Ranchi, Aug. 17: Jharkhand is set to hop on to the organic farming bandwagon this financial year.
Plans are afoot to cultivate 25,000 hectares spread over 13 districts and the state government has already earmarked Rs 17 crore for the purpose and work is expected to begin by the end of this month or early next month.
The money has been allotted to Jharkhand State Horticulture Mission (JSHM), which executes and monitors the ambitious National Horticulture Mission (NHM) projects in the state.
According to plans, cultivation would be carried out in three categories — Organic Spices Mission, Organic Medicinal Plant Mission and Organic Horticulture Mission, for which Rs 5 crore, Rs 2 crore and Rs 10 crore have been earmarked respectively.
Elaborate plans are being drawn up to make cultivation successful in Ranchi, Khunti, Lohardaga, Simdega, Gumla, Latehar, West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum, Seraikela-Kharsawan, Dumka, Jamtara, Pakur and Sahebganj. List of spices, medicinal and other plants that grow well locally are being finalised.
Director of Jharkhand State Horticulture Mission Prabhakar Singh told The Telegraph that NGOs have been roped in each district to execute the project. “NGO personnel have already been trained about different aspects of organic farming. We will also involve an agency to certify the organic products in the near future,” said Singh.
He explained that in order to get an organic tag, products have to be cultivated on a plot where there is no use of any chemicals like fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides. The water source is also monitored.
He added that by default, many farmers grow vegetables organically, but lose out on the higher earnings as there is no agency to certify their produce. A valid organic tag fetches good prices for farmers who are already engaged in environment-friendly and sustainable cultivation.
Notably, Sikkim and Uttaranchal governments have already taken up organic farming in a big way.
Last fiscal, as part of the National Horticultural Mission, the state agriculture department had taken up an organic farming project over 200 hectares in Ranchi district. The crops chosen were turmeric and ginger.
Other than that, organic farming has been confined to tussar cultivation in the state. Jharcraft’s pure organic tussar silk is certified by Onecert Asia. Speaking to The Telegraph, Jharcraft managing director Dhirendra Kumar said the outfit had benefited greatly because of the organic tag, which distinguishes its products from others in India and abroad.