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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

Organic farming picks up in Himachal Pradesh

Naresh K Thakur, Hindustan Times  Dharamsala, June 02, 2014
First Published: 12:09 IST(2/6/2014) | Last Updated: 12:12 IST(2/6/2014)

Even as organic farming has started making headway in Himachal Pradesh with more and more growers shifting to this mode of farming, experts feel a farmer-centric marketing strategy is needed to bring more area under green agriculture in the hill state.

As many as 20,000 farmers have been registered under the organic farming programme, of which 2,000 have obtained ‘organic producer certification’.

More importantly, the organic produce is fetching 25 to 60 per cent higher price ensuring remunerative returns to the farmers but the lack of marketing strategy is a teething problem faced by promoters of green agriculture in the state.

“Most of the far mers have marginal farmlands here. The quality of produce is very good but low volume poses a problem in marketing. Most of the registered farmers are practicing green agriculture individually and we have dearth of market,” said JP Saini, head of the organic agriculture department of HPAU Palampur.

Saini said that a collective effort is needed on part of the farmers for large-scale production of the organic crops.

“Of course, an organised marketing strategy is the need of the hour so that the farmers practicing organic farming could find a permanent market for their produce,” said Saini while adding that the premium price the farmers a regetting for their produce is low.

Giving another reason for the organic farming not picking up at a faster pace, Saini said that after switching over to this mode of farming, initially the productivity declines and hence the farmers remain sceptical about taking the plunge.

“The farmers don’t get market benefits immediately and we need to rope in agencies that assure the far mers that their produce will be purchased on a reasonable premium price,” said Saini.

According to farm scientists, the casual approach can’t be beneficial and growers need to involve themselves fully into organic farming as the inputs like bio- fertilisers and bio- pesticides are produced in farms.

Dr Ashok Kumar Yadav, president of the International Competence Centre on Organic Agriculture, who is known as the organic man of India, said India intends to provide organic certification to 5% farmers in the country by 2025.

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