...but govt falls way short
There is no word on the constitution of an Organic Farming Board announced by CM Parkash Singh Badal in March last year leaving Punjab behind in the march towards an Organic India.
At the same time, PM Narendra Modi recently announced that the North East was fast becoming the organic farming capital of the country.
Agriculture Minister Tota Singh said, “organic farming had no future in the state without incentives, subsidy and substantially raised crop prices. I will take up the matter of forming the board with the CM Badal shortly. Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan governments will have to give higher price of at least 50 per cent than the normal crop rates or at least Rs 3,000 per quintal for organic crops to attract more farmers,” he added
Only 2,475 acres are registered for organic farming in the state out of approximately, 4.2 million hectares. The figures are lesser than even half a per cent which are far below the figure of 10 per cent envisaged for each state in the Preliminary Report of the Task Force on Organic and Non-Chemical Farming, released recently.
The Minister said “we need to work out the programme details in the context that people are ready to pay higher prices for good quality food as was evident from a village in Moga district where farmers have earmarked 450 acres for organic farming in return of better prices for their produce. People are willing to venture into the new areas but a government push with a policy will be of great help,” he pointed out
Kahan Singh Pannu, Director, Punjab Agro, said “Punjab was adding sizable land share every year under organic farming because of increasing demand. We are creating a separate market for premium crops on higher rates. Special stalls will be set up at apni mandis,” he added.
The Task Force has sought establishment of at least 1000 Organic Schools (as resource centres) all over the country. The CM had last year announced to register at least 1000 farmers with them every year. He had also announced allotting panchayati land for setting up organic farms in every block of the state.
Umendra Dutt, a member of the committee on Task Force, said, “hiking the prices of organic crops was a valid point. Research to increase yield of organic crops would also prove beneficial”.