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Kerala's organic farming policy seen as a right step

BS Reporter  |  Chennai/ Thiruvananthapuram 

The Kerala government's new organic farming policy, which plans to make the farm sector totally organic during the next five years, has come in for praise.
Agriculture affairs expert R Hali, who is a former director of agriculture and consultant to MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, described it "as the most foresighted agro economic policy proclamation of the Kerala government during the last 500 days in office".
Recalling that MS Swaminathan, in his study report on 'WTO concerns of Kerala', had in the year 2003, mooted the promotion of organic farming and commencement of an organic farming research and certification centre in the state.
"Though the report did not get the attention it should have got, the present road map drawn on the promotion of organic farming in Kerala generated great hope and courage to build up a sustainable platform," Hali said.
The Kerala State Organic Farming Policy unveiled recently, envisages measures to make farming sustainable and remunerative and proposes a variety of measures aimed at reviving traditional methods of cultivation for livelihood security of farmers and improving agro-biodiversity.
The policy document moots a participatory approach involving government departments, farmers' associations, clubs, cooperatives, SHGs and local self-government bodies for capacity upgrade, storage, transportation, processing, value-addition and marketing of organic produce.
Pointing out that organic farming must also be seen as a major solution to help farmers earn a better margin by highlighting super quality, purity and high health standards of these agro products, Hali said the aspect was very vital for a state like Kerala, which is compelled to sell 80 per cent of its farm produce outside the state and the nation round the year.
"We may also bear in mind that Kerala accommodates 48 per cent of the plantation crop grown in India and is the only state in the country having a substantial stake in the important plantation crops such as coffee, tea, cardamom, pepper, cashew and marine products, which are all export-oriented. In this context, the formation of organic agricultural authority of Kerala is a welcome step and the build-up of micro level organisations are steps in the right direction," he added.
Calling for a proper assessment on the existing situation in production, processing, export and efforts made to get acceptance in the highly competitive international market, he said this would be a basic requirement before finalising the action chart for this task.
Every effort in this regard is important since each one is interrelated in the well-knit style, Hali added.

First Published: Wed, October 10 2007. 00:00 IST