Small and marginal farmers, who are unable to meet agriculture expenditure, can switch to organic farming as it is cost-effective and profitable. This was stated by Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Radha Mohan Singh while addressing a gathering of CIARI representatives, government officials and other stakeholders at Raj Niwas in Port Blair, Andaman Nicobar Islands.
Singh said he was pleased to discuss important aspects of organic farming with the stakeholders on the island. He said that organic farming is highly favourable in dry and lowly-irrigated regions, hilly states, north-eastern states and islands. In fact, Sikkim has been declared 100% organic state and many states are now following its footsteps. Singh said that his aim is to make Andaman Nicobar Islands an organic island.
The minister said that Andaman and Nicobar Island has been adopting organic farming at a small-scale (321 hectares) and that the island has immense potential and is favourably placed for organic farming due to less use of chemical fertilizers and abundant species. He said that Organic soybean occupies the top slot in organic exports with 70% followed by food grains and Bajra at 6% and chemical fertilizer at 5%. Apart from them, organic spices, tea and cloth etc., also have immense potential.
Singh said that ICAR-Central Island Agricultural Research Institute (CIARI) Port Blair study of fertilizer and ecology has found acceptable limits of pesticides and most of the samples used for analysis were acceptable. He further said that the Directorate of Agriculture, Andaman and Nicobar Administration, Southern Andaman have taken up organic projects and have been assessing the opportunities and challenges. An exhibition of organic production will be held in Organic Farm, a body established by Andaman and Nicobar administration. Besides this, organic coconut farms have been developed in Sippighat Farm, a body established by CIARI. Such model/exhibitions will help win farmers’ confidence.
Highlighting the authenticity of organic produce in these islands as a major challenge, the Union minister said that the authorities have been working to train employees and to implement a partnership guarantee model. Singh said that organic markets are being developed through local marketing programmes so that organic produce can be made available to household consumers. In order to ensure sale of organic produce, the administration is working to develop Andaman Bazaar. Besides, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has taken the responsibility of organic exports.
Singh further added that coconut and its produce in these Islands will be marketed on a large scale to cater to exports and APEDA may provide assistance in this activity. The Port Blair regional office of Coconut Development Board has been providing assistance for organic farming.
–Pic is representational