Organic farming in Kerala – Economic nonsense

Sustainability is a good thing. Everybody agrees on it. However, what is the process of achieving this?

Previously we reported that 9 Indian states are looking at organic farming to tap into the $37 billion
global market. That is good. The Mint reports that Kerala is planning to get into the field by converting all its cultivable land into organic farms in 5 years.

“The policy will be ambitiously aimed at freeing Kerala of all chemical fertilizers and pesticides in five years. This is with a long-term vision of ensuring that future generations here do not consume food contaminated by toxic pesticides and fertilizers. The strategy is clear: Convert 20% of the cultivable land to organic farming using biofertilizers and biopesticides every year so that total conversion can be achieved in five years,” adds Vijayan. Currently, there are around 7,000 certified organic farmers covering a minuscule area of 5,750ha, when the net sown area in the state is 2.13 million hectares.

To begin with, 100 villages across the state will soon be organized as organic farm villages. Mullakkara Ratnakaran, state agriculture minister, says the government will set up an Organic Agriculture Authority of Kerala, which will be the nodal agency to interact with grass roots level groups, and also national and international agencies.

The authority will have a governing council headed by a chairman, to be elected from representatives at the pan chayat and village levels, where organic farmer interest groups will be formed. The council will also have officials, scientists, farmers’ representatives and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) promoting organic farming, he adds.
Vijayan admits that a major stumbling block will be funds and the lack of a market for this produce.

For the first three years, conversion to organic farming means a drop in yields, putting farmers to hardship.
It is for this that the authority will have funds both from the Union and state governments to support the farmers. Financial support from international agencies can also be looked at, Vijayan says. As part of the marketing thrust, the authority will look at independent retail outlets and also tie up with others to market these products, which will include rice, vegetables and fruits.

It has been clearly demonstrated around the world that centrally managed economies do not work.

Even though organic farming may be a good thing; the process of converting all lands compulsorily without figuring out the market for the produce and creating more hardship for already poor farmers is totally unacceptable.

This is the exact kind of economic nonsense that has troubled India all these years. If this is the same thinking used for “sustainability issues” then it will not make any difference and can actually harm the people and the environment. Economic sense matters.


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