The Telegraph
Thursday , May 29 , 2014
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3-phase meet on organic farming

Guwahati, May 28: Dispur has undertaken a three-phase programme involving forming farmer groups, certification agencies and focus on research to boost organic farming in Assam.

“We have undertaken a three-phase programme to make producers aware of organic farming and to create a viable market for what they produce. In the first phase, 30 constituencies have been selected and groups of farmers organised to practise organic farming on a farm of 50 hectares,” Vinod K. Pipersenia, state agriculture production secretary and additional chief secretary (agriculture), said today.

Speaking at a seminar on organic production organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce here, Pipersenia said the risk-reward ratio must be adequate for farmers to take up organic farming. “Organic farming has a gestation period of three years and the certification process takes two years. The state does not have a certification agency and most agencies here are run either by NGOs or private companies. So we are trying to set up a certification agency and in this regard plan to take it up with the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority,” he said.

Organic farming has emerged as a major thrust area in agriculture over the years. The Northeast, despite abundant biotic resources, has, till date, not been able to realise the importance and benefits of organic farming.

Of the 12,865.83 hectares under organic cultivation in the Northeast, Assam has an area of 2001.76 hectares.

“There is no clarity about the kind of inputs (vermin-compost, organic insecticides or bio-fertilisers) to be used or avoided in organic farming. The absence of research does not help as far as sharing knowledge and awareness on such inputs. Therefore, we need to focus more on research by also involving institutes so that information about crop practices and inputs can be given to farmers,” Pipersenia said.

Researchers, the agriculture production secretary said, must develop standard practices in organic farming.

He said the idea should be to form clusters near the urban areas.

“Farmers in the rural areas generally produce for themselves but when clusters are formed near the urban centres, it will cater to a bigger market. We also need to help create enough demand for the organic products to sell in the market,” he said.

The concept of traditional farming will not go far, he said. “So the future of agriculture lies in knowledge-based farming. Farmers must know what they are doing, must adhere to proper crop planning and carry out a proper market study. As facilitators, we need to implant such skills to take organic farming forward,” Pipersenia said.

He also stressed on improved packaging and branding so that the products are acceptable in the market.

“Consumers must be aware of organic products, the practices used to produce them and their health benefits. They must be willing to pay more,” he added.

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