Believe it or not, almost 70 per cent of the national Capital was used for organic farming in 2011-2012, according to National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF), which comes under the Ministry of Agriculture. While the total geographical area of Delhi is 1.48 lakh hectares, NPOF data shows 100238.74 hectares (almost twice the size of Mumbai) was used for organic farming during that period.
What smacks of data fudging and a gigantic scam took place between 2009 and 2012 when the Sheila Dikshit government was in power in Delhi and Congress-led UPA ruled at the Centre. As per the central government scheme, a subsidy of Rs.10,000 per hectare of land is given to a farmer for organic farming. Hence, Rs.100-crore plus subsidies in 2011-12 were given by the Union government for organic farming in the national Capital for 100238.74 hectares. And Delhi, on paper, produced 4,765 tonnes of organic products in 2009. The state of Assam produced 2,329 tonnes. In other words, urban Delhi’s output of organic products was 100 per cent higher than that of Assam. The scam was exposed by the Crop Care Foundation of India (CCFI) through an RTI.
When MAIL TODAY asked the Ministry of Agriculture if indeed such gigantic tract of land inside Delhi has been used for organic farming or if the national capital is such a big producer of organic vegetables, we got no answers. Neither did the Commerce Ministry which is in charge of export of organic products come up with any answers. Both ministries passed the buck and pointed fingers at each other.
The Delhi Agriculture department says there is hardly any organic farming done in Delhi. “There is no awareness about organic farming in Delhi. We don’t get any specific data on such farming from the government. Neither do we get any subsidy,” an official from the department told MAIL TODAY. Delhi agriculture department records show 30,922 hectares of land were used for overall agricultural activities in Delhi in 2011-12. Agriculture activity in Delhi takes place only on six blocks, out of which there is negligible farming in 50 per cent of the area. NPOF was introduced by the Congress-led UPA government during the 10th five-year plan as a central sector scheme with effect from 10 October, 2004, with an initial outlay of `57 crore for promotion of organic farming in India. Though introduced by the UPA government, the scheme continues till date with substantially enhanced budget.
Dr Krishan Chandra, Regional Director, National Center for Organic Farming (NCOF), Ministry of Agriculture, said: “Agriculture is a state subject. The Centre’s role is to help states monetarily so that they can take up organic farming. We have different schemes through which we help farmers by providing money to states. But there is no scope of organic farming in Delhi as there is meagre land available for any kind of farming. As far as subsidy is concerned, we give subsidy for the export of organic produce.” According to the data available with the Ministry of Agriculture, the annual export value of Agriorganic products for 2012-13 was Rs.1155.81 crore.
Dr Chandra said that on noticing major glitch in the data provided by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), under the Ministry of Commerce, regarding organic farming in Delhi, he asked them for clarification.
“The data regarding land for organic farming is maintained by APEDA and not by our department. They said that earlier they used to enter the data manually but now they are doing it using computers. There may be some data manipulation as it is not possible to carry out such large-scale organic farming in Delhi,” said Chandra. “At times the state helps the farmer financially to carry out organic farming. Farmers furnish address details of the national capital, but the land is somewhere else. The responsibility to check such details furnished by farmers lies with the Commerce Ministry,” he said. Sources in the Agriculture Ministry said that there is a possibility of embezzlement of funds at the state level because who the beneficiaries would be are decided by the state.
The state agriculture department claims to have no information on organic farming in Delhi. “We don’t have any information,” said Kaushal Kishore, joint director, agriculture, Development department, Delhi government. Rajinder Chaudhry, Director (Media), Ministry of Commerce, said: “We are not aware about the disparity in data from other sources. The data provided by APEDA is sourced from TRACENET – a web-based traceability system operational under NPOP.”