Area under organic farming has grown many-fold in six years to 2009-10 in India on the back of thrust given to the chemical-free mode of cultivation.

From 42,000 hectares under organic certification in 2003-04, more than 4.4 million hectares area was under organic certification in the country as on March 2010, an official statement said here on Tuesday.

For quality assurance, India has internationally acclaimed certification process in place for export, import and domestic markets.

During 2008-09, India produced about 18.78 lakh tonnes of certified organic products.

Of this, nearly 54,000 tonne food items worth Rs. 591 crore were exported. With more than 77,000 tonnes of organic cotton link production, India became the largest organic cotton grower in the world a year ago.

Indian organic exports include cereals, pulses, honey, tea, spices, oil seeds, fruits, vegetables, cotton fibre, cosmetics and body care products.

The Ministry of Agriculture is promoting organic farming in the country under National Project on Organic Farming, National Horticulture Mission, Technology Mission for North East and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.

National Project on Organic Farming is being implemented since October 2004 through a National Centre of Organic Farming at Ghaziabad and six Regional Centres located at Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Hissar, Imphal, Jabalpur, and Nagpur.

The project supports organic input production infrastructure, technical capacity building of stake holders, human resource development through training, statutory quality control of organic inputs, technology development and dissemination, market development and awareness.

Under the National Horticulture Mission and Technology Mission for North East, assistance is provided at rate of 50 per cent of cost subject to a maximum of Rs. 10,000 per hectare (up to 4 hectares per beneficiary) for organic horticulture cultivation.

Assistance is also provided for setting up vermi-compost units at the rate of 50 per cent of cost up to Rs. 30,000 per beneficiary.

Assistance of Rs. 5 lakh is provided to a group of farmers covering an area of 50 hectares for organic farming certification.

Under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, States are being assisted for area expansion of organic food crops, capacity building of farmers and organic input production.

Keywords: organic farming