The Uttarakhand government would develop nearly 10,000 organic clusters in the mountain region even as a move “is on” to legalise organic farming, agriculture minister Subodh Uniyal said Thursday.
“The Centre has agreed in principle to allocate a budget of Rs 1500 crore to develop 10,000 organic clusters in the state. It is one of several steps initiated by the Centre to realise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to develop Uttarakhand as an organic state so that local farmers’ income could be doubled by 2022,” Uniyal said.
Modi had made an announcement to this effect while laying foundation stone for the Kedarnath reconstruction projects last year.
Uniyal said funds “have started flowing in to pave the way to give a fillip to organic farming even as the state government had initiated steps” to legalise the alternative agricultural system.
“In that connection, we will soon introduce two dedicated laws,” he said adding the Organic Agriculture Bill and the Nursery Management Bill would be enacted in the assembly’s budget session that would commence by March end.
The Organic Agriculture Bill, once enacted, would provide legal backing to the government’s initiatives aimed at developing the hill region as a full-fledged organic state. “It would be mandatory for private parties, who would be roped in to provide plants and seeds to farmers, to register themselves under the proposed law,” said Uniyal adding, the rule would ban the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides in areas selected for organic farming.
Besides, the proposed law would have strict provisions for penalising those who would be caught using chemical fertilizers or insecticides while growing organic crop of any kind. “Besides, under that law, it would be mandatory for farmers to get their products certified by the designated agencies,” he said. The provisions would also be applicable to the agencies that “provide plants and seeds etc to farmers or those (agencies) that undertake value addition of organic farm produce.”
All such legal measures would help establish “our agricultural produce” as a distinct brand. “That will help us achieve our objective to establish the mountain state as an exporter of organic produce internationally”, Uniyal said. “Export of organic produce will fetch huge foreign exchange hugely benefiting our farmers doubling their income by 2022 in keeping with the Prime Minister’s vision.”
Similarly, the proposed Nursery Management Bill would also have strict provisions. “Once this bill is enacted, those who dupe farmers by supplying substandard saplings or seeds will be severely penalized,” he said adding, the government had already declared 10 blocks as “fully” organic.
Other 10,000 organic clusters would be developed under the Prampara Krishi Vikas Yojna, a centrally-funded scheme. “This project will be implemented in a five lakh acre area and will boost the income of five lakh farmers. Under this scheme, separate clusters of organic seeds, vegetables, fruits of different kinds, varieties of agricultural crops including Basmati rice besides those of herbs and medicinal plants would be developed. Besides, plans were afoot to develop 500 clusters of high density apples. “Our aim is to be at par with neighbouring Himachal Pradesh in apple production,” Uniyal said.
Besides, the state government would soon introduce a project under which an Integrated Model of Agriculture Village would be developed. Under that project, each cluster would be equipped with facilities such as cold storage and sorting-grading units etc. “These clusters will also be equipped with farm machinery banks so that farmers can use state-of-the-art farm equipment to enhance the agricultural productivity,” Uniyal said.