To encourage organic farming in Maharashtra, the State Government has formulated a special policy for the sector. The policy has devised a roadmap for developing the whole value chain — from the farm gate to the consumer.
The policy has defined organic farming as an integrated method, which uses local natural resources for farming and which rejects the use of chemicals for cultivation. Such a farming method will help improve the quality of land and reduce air and water pollution.
In Maharashtra, about 200 lakh hectares is under cultivation. Over the last 15 years, a number of farmers’ groups have been practising organic farming techniques. The total area under organic farming is still small, but it is growing steadily due to remunerative prices of such farms products in the metropolitan area.
Agriculture Commissioner of Maharashtra Umakant Dangat told Business Linethat the policy has set an aim of converting 10 per cent of the total farmland to organic farms, and 25 per cent of the farm lands to use some agronomic practices of organic farming. The policy has not set out any milestones, but in the next five years, it wants to get the maximum area covered under this framing method, he said.
He said for implementing organic farming methods across the State, not much capital is required. The farmers need to be made aware of these methods, which their forefathers use to practice.
“In fact, by using organic farming methods, farmers can save money and not have to shell out for fertilisers and pesticides. If they convert farm waste into manure, their cost of cultivation can also be controlled,” Dangat said.
The policy is aiming to develop organic food safety standards, which are in sync with international ones. Incentives would be given for industries setting up units for processing, packaging and temperature controlled warehouses for organic foods. It also wants to develop a marketing infrastructure for such products.
Agriculture expert Raosaheb Pujari said awareness among farmers has been on the rise. Farmers know that chemicals are harmful for crops for personal consumption are grown using organic methods, “But a farmer’s land is now conditioned to chemicals. The farmer cannot switch overnight to organic methods, because his farm yield will take a hit,” he said.
“Today, a higher price for organic products and marketing infrastructure is the need of the hour. Only then, organic farming will be successful,” Pujari said.