Organic Farming Mandates Meeting the Complete Nutrient Requirement of the Crop Only Through Permitted Organic Inputs And Pest Management by Non-Chemical Methods

Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, in Hyderabad addressed the National Symposium on Organic Farming for Farmers Prosperity, organized by CRIDA and NIRD, Hyderabad. In his address he said that the Organic farming mandates meeting the complete nutrient requirement of the crop only through permitted organic inputs and pest management by non-chemical methods. However, in view of large requirements of food in terms of cereals, legumes, oil seed, fodder, fruit/vegetables, fibre etc. organic farming need be promoted in the niche areas.

He said that at present, it appears that the only strategy to sustain food production on long term basis in the country is to adopt integrated nutrient management and integrated pest management to meet the ever growing demand for food, while organic farming practices can be adopted in isolated and niche areas to produce quality products and minimize the adverse effects on the environment. Future organic farming need to be linked with market avenues and export of organic products

Full text of the Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister is as follows:

“In India, a tremendous growth in agricultural production was achieved during the last 40 years through input intensive chemical energy based agriculture with adoption of nutrient-responsive high yielding varieties. This has increased not only the food production but also aggravated the second-generation problems associated with ‘Green revolution’. Sustaining of soil productivity has become a major issue as lands are being intensively tilled under multiple and intensive cropping systems. Such intensification in irrigated agriculture coupled with indiscriminate use of agrochemicals has resulted in many problems like, nutrient leaching and loss, widespread deficiency of secondary and micronutrients due to substantial decline in relative contribution of organic manures as a source of plant nutrients, salinity, sodicity, lower input-use efficiency and deceleration of total factor productivity.

Furthermore, indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides to control various insect-pests and diseases over the years has destroyed their many natural enemies and soil microflora. This calls for adoption of sustainable agricultural practices like integrated nutrient management (INM) and integrated pest management (IPM). Further, organic farming which does not use any chemical inputs either as fertilizers or pesticides is also suggested as a viable strategy for achieving sustainable production at least in niche areas.

One of the important emerging productivity constraint in intensive production systems with chemical fertilizers without organics is soil health deterioration. Due to declined soil health, productivity of important production systems is static despite of other available technologies. Among several strategies to improve soil health, one important strategy is large scale awareness on soil health among farmers, line departments and implementing agencies. Government of India and its Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare have successfully achieved this target on highlighting the importance of soil health cards in overall agriculture production and food security of the country. The productivity of agricultural systems is often limited by physical (e.g. shallow depth, poor structure, high mechanical impedance), chemical (high or low pH, low available nutrient content), or biological (high soil pathogen load, low populations of beneficial microflora) soil constraints. Because agriculture is a soil-based industry that extracts nutrients from the soil, effective approaches for slowing down that removal and returning nutrients to the soil will be required in order to maintain and increase crop productivity and sustain agriculture in the long term.

Organic farming has received considerable attention in India in this direction. Organic farming mandates meeting the complete nutrient requirement of the crop only through permitted organic inputs and pest management by non-chemical methods. However, in view of large requirements of food in terms of cereals, legumes, oil seed, fodder, fruit/vegetables, fibre etc. organic farming need be promoted in the niche areas. Sikkim State has made sincere efforts for agricultural products investments, various techniques of crop production and marketing of products, etc. Organic retail stores have been started by Government of Sikkim in New Delhi and plans are there to open more in major cities of India to market the organic products of Sikkim. Nearly 25-30,000 hectares of land area out of the total 58,128 hectare of available cultivable land has been certified as organic in Sikkim. Regions of North-Eastern and Eastern states where consumption of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is already low, need to be encouraged for organic farming. Similarly some of the specific areas where there is high demand for organic products, more emphasis need to be given. Government of India and its Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare started an ICAR research institute in Eastern part of the country recently to promote organic farming in these regions.

A National Organic Farming Research Institute has been established in Sikkim to promote research and education in the country. Indian Institute of Farming System Research, Modipuram, Meerut is operating two projects - National Network Programme on Organic Farming and All Indian Coordinated Project on Integrated Farming System which collaborate with Agricultural Universities for research in this area. In addition National Centre for Organic Farming, Ghaziabad is working on promotion of organic farming through its regional Centres. This institution is working for human resource development, technology transfer, production, production of organic quality agri inputs and distribution. The analysis of bio-fertilizers, and organic manures is also being performed by this institution. The standardization of the quality of organic manures and promotion of organic farming is also done.

Mission on Organic Value Chain Development for north-eastern region has a provision of Rs.125 crores for 2015-16 with an objective to form farmers groups and certification of organic products. Producers and consumers, collection of produce and processing, marketing and branding are the important ingredients of the scheme. APEDA is another institution which certifies the organic products and facilitates for international markets.

Organic farming practices are mostly associated with improved soil health strategies. Some of the important strategies, where government of India need to focus are ban or reduction of crop residue burning and recycling the farm waste to the soil; on-farm generation of organic matter, tapping house hold and city waste recycling, promotion of community based biogas or individual based biogas plans linked with vermicomposting. Integrated use of permitted chemical inputs or natural resources along with organic manures such as FYM, green manuring and crop residues assumes greater significance in improving the crop productivity through sustained soil fertility and overall these practices would help in contribute and help in enhancing food security of India.

It is well established that continued use of organic manure on a farm improves its organic matter content, which supports the soil micro, meso and macro fauna and makes the soil a living body. Organic matter improves soil structure and increases water-holding capacity, which is important particularly under dry farming conditions. Continuous addition of organic manure assures a regular supply of micronutrients. We need to find innovative ways of producing organic matter on the farm itself by way of bund farming (growing perennial shrubs on field bunds, adding the pruned material in the cropped field as manure cum mulch), cover cropping, use of vermi-compost, recycling of crop residues, green leaf manuring and agroforestry to meet the nutrient requirements of the crops in view of the declining availability of FYM and compost.

The present Government has laid greater emphasis on organic farming. The Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), an initiative to promote organic farming in the country, was launched by the present government in 2015. According to the scheme, farmers will be encouraged to form groups or clusters and take to organic farming methods over large areas in the country. To avail this scheme, a cluster or group of 50 farmers with 50 acres of land may take up organic farming under the PKVY. Each farmer enrolling in the scheme will be provided Rs. 20,000 per acre by the government spread over three years time. Farmers willing to do organic farming upto 2.5 acres of land may also be included in the cluster. This fund can be utilized for obtaining organic seed, harvesting of the crops, and transporting the produce to the local markets. The aim is to form 10,000 clusters over the next three years and bring about 5.0 lakh acres of agricultural area under organic farming. The government also intends to cover the certification costs and promote organic farming through the use of traditional resources. Organic food, thus produced will be linked with modern marketing tools and local markets. In order to implement the PKVY in 2015-16, an amount of Rs.300 crore was allocated. A sum of Rs. 412 crore has been allocated by the government in the financial year 2016-17. PKVY is a more focused and targeted approach towards promotion of organic farming than the earlier initiatives and is implemented in all the States.

At present, it appears that the only strategy to sustain food production on long term basis in the country is to adopt integrated nutrient management and integrated pest management to meet the ever growing demand for food, while organic farming practices can be adopted in isolated and niche areas to produce quality products and minimize the adverse effects on the environment. Future organic farming need to be linked with market avenues and export of organic products”.

‘Krishi Unnati Mela: Seminars and conferences highlights on day 2’

‘Krishi Unnati Mela’ a National Level Agriculture Fair-cum-Exhibition, is organised jointly by the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India and Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI), Pusa, New Delhi at Indian Agriculture Research Institute from March 19-21, 2016. In continuum to technical seminar on ‘PM Fasal Bima Yojana’ held on day 1 of ‘Krishi unnati Mela’, followed second day that featured number of seminars that involved brainstorming sessions and information dissemination along with farmers’ participation in it. These seminars that involved Scientist-Farmer interaction were webcasted so as large number of farmers can be benefitted. Following are major themes and subjects of these seminars that involved panel of experts of respective subject matter:

Technical Session II chaired by Dr. N. K. Krishna Kumar, DDG (Hort.), ICAR was held on ‘Integrated Farming System (Horticulture and Fisheries) and Government Schemes’. Vegetable based Integrated Farming System, Fruit and agro-forestry based Integrated Farming System, Integrated Farming and Fresh water, Brackish, Marine Fishery and related schemes, Farmer-led Business model of Fishery are some of the major issues discussed at seminar.

Technical Session III chaired by Dr. Ramesh Chand, Member, Niti Ayog, GoI was held on ‘Agricultural Marketing and Government Schemes’. National Agricultural Marketing scheme, Market-led production and processing of Horticultural crops, Market-led production and processing system for dairy, fish and meat, and Farmer-led Business models are the issues discussed, followed up by Q & A session.

Technical Session IV chaired by Dr. A.K.Singh, DDG Extension, ICAR, New Delhi focussed on Farmer-Scientist Interaction. Sessions on Agrarian challenges and Participatory pathways, National Mission on Agricultural Extension and Technology, ICT initiatives in agriculture, this was followed up by Panel discussion on modern agro-technologies and service delivery approaches.

Technical Session V chaired by Shri A V J Prasad, JS(LH), DAHD&F was held on ‘Integrated Farming System (Crop-Livestock) and Government Schemes’ It involved issues of Integrated Farming System- Approaches and Technologies, Dairy based Integrated Farming System, Pashu Poshan, Small ruminants and Backyard Piggery based Integrated Farming System Poultry based Integrated Farming System, also Government schemes for dairy based enterprises/interventions.

Technical Session VI chaired by Addl. Secretary, MoFPI was held on ‘Processing and Value Addition and Government Schemes’. Technologies for Farm Gate Primary Processing, Processed products based enterprises, processed product development at cottage level (MSME) & related schemes, Opportunities in Food processing enterprises, and Government Schemes for scaling up for industries and export of processed products are the topics highlighted at the seminar.

Technical Session VII chaired by Dr JS Samra, EX CEO National Rainfed Area Authority and Ex DDG (Natural Resource Management), ICAR was held on ‘PM Krishi Sinchai Yojana’. Enhancing water use efficiency through precision irrigation was the theme emphasised and it was followed up by Q& A session that involved farmers, stakeholders and panellists.

Technical Session VIII chaired by Dr. J. S. Sandhu, DDG (CS), ICAR was held on ‘Increasing Crop Productivity and Enhancing Soil Health and Government Schemes’. Pulses for Improving Soil health and Nutritional Security, Increasing Oilseed Productivity for self reliance in edible oil, Soil Testing for balanced plant nutrition and distribution of SHC, Integrated Nutrient Management for improving soil health and crop productivity, Organic Farming, Government Initiative for enhancing Soil Health and sustainability were major topics at the seminar.

Technical Session IX chaired by Dr. A. K. Sikka, DDG (NRM), ICAR was held on ‘Management of Crop Residues & Government Schemes. Crop residue management through conservation agriculture, Technologies for conservation agriculture, Agri-waste management and renewable energy, Solar power based farm mechanization, Govt. schemes related to renewable energy and solar power are the themes highlighted at the seminar.

Technical Session X chaired by P. L. Gautam, Former Chairperson, PPVFRA was held on ‘Interaction with Innovative Farmers’. Institutional support system for harnessing and dissemination of farmers’ innovations, sharing of experiences Farmers’ innovations followed up by Question-Answer session at the seminar.

News Report of ASSOCHAM stating that Wheat Production in the Country this year is likely to be lower is Factually Incorrect

Union Agriculture and farmers Welfare Minister,said here said that “news report of ASSOCHAM stating that wheat production in the country this year is likely to be lower by 1.5 crore tonne is factually incorrect. In 2015-16, wheat production in the country is estimated at 93.82 million tonnes (2nd Advance Estimate). The recent untimely rains and hailstorm in some parts of the country have caused some damage but, as per present assessment, production of wheat in the country would still be around 92-93 million tonne which is substantially higher than the wheat production of 86.53 million tonnes during 2014-15”.

He said that the present stock of wheat with the Food Corporation of India is higher than the stocking norms. Against the stocking norm of 7.6 million tonnes as on 1st April, 2016, the present stock of wheat in the central pool is 13.5 million tonne. During the last one year FCI has sold 7 million tonnes of wheat through open market operations. For the past some time, the market response to the tenders floated by FCI has been weak which implies that there is no shortage of wheat in the country at present.

Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister informed that during the last one year international price of wheat have been subdued. In order to protect the interests of farmers, Government of India, imposed 25 per cent import duty on wheat. He further said that the harvesting of wheat has started. With a target of 30.5 million tonne, FCI has already started procurement activity.

He said that at this juncture, such incorrect information is being publicized with a view to compel government to reduce import duty on wheat. Lower import duty on wheat would lead to a fall in wheat price in the domestic market and farmers will incur heavy loss while traders will purchase from farmers at lowered price.

Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister said that the Government is keeping a close watch on prices, particularly prices of food items and will make all efforts to keep food prices under control.

Fertilizer companies are required to print the MRP and available subsidy on each bag of P&K fertilizers.

The Minister of State for Chemicals & Fertilizers informed the Lok Sabha in reply to an Unstarred Question that the existing mechanism put in place to monitor the prices of P&K fertilizers is as under:

i. Sale of fertilizers above the printed price is punishable under the EC Act.

ii. (a) It has been made mandatory for the fertilizer companies to submit alongwith their subsidy claims, the cost data of their fertilizer products from 2012-13 onwards in prescribed format on six monthly basis . The Department has also appointed Cost Accountants- Firms to scrutinize the said cost data to ensure that the prices fixed by the fertilizer companies are reasonable. (b) It has also been stipulated in the provisions that in cases, where after scrutiny, unreasonableness of MRP is established or where there is no correlation between the cost of production or acquisition and the MRP printed on the bags, the subsidy would be restricted or denied even if the product is otherwise eligible for subsidy under NBS Scheme. In proven case of abuse of subsidy mechanism, the Department of Fertilizers, on the recommendation of Inter-Ministerial Committee may exclude any grade-grades of fertilizers of a particular company or the fertilizer company itself from the NBS Scheme. This punitive provision checks overpricing of Fertilizers.

Department of Fertilizers allocates sufficient -adequate quantities of fertilizers to States by issuing monthly supply plan and continuously monitors the availability of fertilizers. Details of availability of all chemicals fertilizers ( Urea, DAP, MOP & NPK) for the last three years 2013-14 to 2015-16 ( April, 2015 to February, 2016 ) are given below:

2015-16 (April-15 to Feb-16)

It can be seen from the above table that availability of all chemical fertilizers against sales is sufficient / adequate and there is no shortage of fertilizers.

Gram Vikas Yojana

Ministry of Tribal Affairs had implemented a programme for development of forest villages since 2005-06 as a one-time measure for integrated development of forest villages with a view to raise the Human Development Index (HDI) of the inhabitants of the forest villages and for providing basic facilities and services in the 2,474 forest villages/habitations spread over twelve States in the country. The programme was implemented as a part of the Special Area Programme ‘Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Plan’. The programme included infrastructure works relating to basic services and facilities viz., approach roads, healthcare, primary education, minor irrigation, rain water harvesting , drinking water, sanitation, community halls etc. and activities related to income generation.

This information was given by Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs in a written reply in Lok Sabha.