News sent by Carol, currently working in Mexico:
The government has decided to develop 38 “organic grams (organic villages)” for which a sum of Rs 255 crore has been sanctioned for five years. Some of these villages are: Dahour (Patna), Sartha (Nalanda), Belsand (Gopalganj), Gaighat Jaata (Muzaffarpur), Rajapaakar (Vaishali) and Narpatganj (Araria).
This programme is being run under the leadership of A K Sinha, agriculture production commissioner (APC). At the district level, the district agriculture officer (DAO) has been entrusted with the task of monitoring the programme.
Any farmer residing in the chosen villages, who has land possession certificate (LPC), can do organic farming. For this, the minimum land requirement is one acre and maximum four hectares. In return, farmers growing organic crops will get all the benefits from the government. At present, farmers in these villages are producing only organic vegetables and fruits, including potato, cauliflower, tomato, cabbage, peas, ladyfinger, carrot, litchi, guava, mango, etc. At present, certification of organic crops produced in Nalanda has started which is being done by an agency, Ecocert. In Muzaffarpur, the National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) is doing certification of “litchi”. For the certification of organic crops in rest of the districts, the government will soon float tenders.
Under this plan, the government is currently helping these farmers in producing natural fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides. For the first time in India, Bihar farmers will get 50% subsidy for production of wormy compost, a natural fertilizer. Dr R K Sohane, director, Bihar Agriculture Management and Extension Training Institute (Bameti), told TOI, “Organic farming is in the agricultural roadmap of the Bihar CM. These organic crops will be available in market for domestic buyers and for catering industry which includes hotels, flights, etc. But along with that, we are planning to export them to bring benefit to state farmers.” “The changing lifestyle of people and increasing demand for healthy food has forced the government to take this initiative,” said Dr Ajay Kumar, deputy director, horticulture department, Bihar.
Devinder Sharma comments that 38 villages out of a few thousand is not significant enough to make a difference and adds: “If the idea is to take this up on a pilot basis, it is welcome.
But ‘planning to export’ gives cause for concern . . . regionally or internationally?