|Arun Jaitley and Mukul Sangma
Shillong, July 13: While the BJP-led NDA government is dreaming of transforming the entire Northeast into an “organic region”, some states are already on the job to alter the agricultural mode from inorganic to organic.
Last week, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in his maiden budget set aside Rs 100 crore for developing organic farming in the Northeast.
Prime minister Narendra Modi had referred to Sikkim and its organic farming, which could be replicated in the entire region. The tiny Himalayan state had impressed Modi, which probably led to the budgetary allocation
exclusively for the development of organic food.
Reacting to the allocation, Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma had recently said the allocation, which has to be divided among the states of the region, was insufficient.
However, he said the state government had already sanctioned Rs 14 crore to encourage the farmers to go in for organic cultivation.
He also said the state government has been encouraging organic farming for many years adding that a mission mode programme on organic farming has been adopted which is different and exclusive from any other programme being run by other states in the Northeast.
“The objective of the state government is to convert all forms of farming in the state into organic and then brand the state as an organic-farming state,” he said.
However, Sikkim has been far ahead among the Northeastern states as far as organic farming is concerned.
Sikkim has been aggressively encouraging its “farmers” to use organic manures during cultivation and it had set a target of turning the entire farming method into organic by 2015.
Sangma cited few “cultivation”, including cashew plantation in Garo hills where farmers have preferred organic manures to fertilisers.
“Certification was issued that cashew is produced organically and growers of fruits like pineapples and tea growers have been encouraged to use organic manures,” he said.
Stating that organic products have been liked by many, the chief minister said there has been a tendency among the people to buy such products and the benefits of foods produced through organic farming was also linked to health since food produced by using chemicals such as pesticides and fertilisers might lead to various kinds of diseases.
“One can be healthy not only by doing regular exercises, but it is also linked to the clean and healthy food we are eating,” Sangma said.
He said the state government would create an awareness on the importance of organic farming with an aim to encourage farmers to use organic manure for producing agricultural products and each family should have an access to organic products.
Recently, the state government had directed the agriculture department to discontinue the use of chemical pesticides and chemical manures, an official from the department said.
The department had recently issued quotations seeking for the supply of bio pesticides, bio fertilisers and bio manures only and not the chemical pesticides and chemical manures, an official said.
From now on, the official said, farmers who have been getting benefits from the department would no longer be supplied with chemical pesticides and chemical manures.
“This is a step towards ensuring organic farming so that health improves and diseases decline,” the official said.
However, the official expressed apprehension that some farmers could procure chemical pesticides and chemical manures from other places located in the Northeast.
In Meghalaya, a model organic farm for turmeric and ginger has been set up at Umsning, Ri Bhoi district in technical collaboration with the Central Institute of Horticulture, Nagaland and the International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture, Bangalore.