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Farmers take organic route

Bongaigaon, Feb. 26: Organic agriculture has slowly spread its wings in Bongaigaon — covering only three farmers two years ago to 80 strong practising it today — thanks in large part to two activists of the Bharatiya Janata Yuba Morcha (BJYM).

In October 2012, BJYM activists Hari Dev Rai and Balbahadur Thakuri mobilised three farmers — Jadav Pathak, Bhagirath Chaudhury and Gajendra Pathak — from Charapet in the Popragaon area, 6km from Bongaigaon district headquarters.

“The decision to shift to organic farming was taken after we found that we were producing less after using chemical fertilisers and pesticides. We were helpless and about to leave agriculture,” Bhagirath Chaudhury said.

Spurred on by the rise in production, in March 2013, the two BJYM activists trained 32 local farmers in the use of vermicompost, manure and bio-insecticides with the help of agriculture village-level extension worker Akhil Chandra Bhaumik.

After a month, Bongaigaon district agriculture officials launched a scheme on organic farming, under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikash Yojana, at Popragaon, covering 50 hectares of farmland and involving 80 farmers.

The organic farming scheme was launched in 2012-13 and was to be implemented in only 30 Assembly constituencies of Assam.

In Bongaigaon district, the scheme was implemented in Ikrabari and Popragaon villages in Abhayapuri South and Bongaigaon Assembly constituencies. Around 150 farmers in these two villages got involved in organic farming last year under the scheme.

Agriculture department officials say organic products have a huge market in the country and abroad, and Assam, which has conducive geo-physical conditions for organic farming, has the potential to emerge as a leader in the sector. “ There should be proper certification of organic products,” an agriculture department official said.

The farmers in the two villages successfully produced Ranjit and Keteki joha variety of paddy organically. They got the paddy seeds free from agriculture department. Nileswar Ray, a farmer, said he produced huge quantities of brinjal, tomato, broccoli, chilly and cabbage using manure and bio-pesticides.

The farmers are selling their organic vegetables at reasonable prices. They are selling potatoes for Rs 25-Rs 30 per kg, tomatoes at Rs 20 per kg, brinjal at Rs 20 per kg, cabbages at Rs 10 and broccoli at Rs 30 per kg.

Village-level extension worker Akhil Chandra Chaudhury said gradually farmers were coming forward and taking up organic farming. “We are trying our best to encourage farmers to take up organic farming and we are helping them to get their produce to the market.” social activist Hari Dev Ray said.