R. Krishna Kumar

The centre will emerge as an agency to certify organic products

It is the first organic farming research station in the StateStress will be laid on soil health

MYSORE: In a major policy shift indicative of the growing apprehension of indiscriminate use of chemicals in agriculture, the Government has converted the Agricultural Research Station at Naganahalli into an Organic Farming Research Station.

The organic farming research station, located on the outskirts of the city on the Bangalore-Mysore Highway and spread across 25.2 hectares of land, is reckoned to be the first such venture in the State. It has been established to scientifically validate and analyse the claims of organic agricultural produce and help popularise it among farmers. It will emerge as a certifying agency empowered to authenticate organic products.

The research station is affiliated to the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, and is being funded by the Organic Farming Cell of the Department of Agriculture.

H.L. Vasanth Kumar, senior farm superintendent of Naganahalli Agricultural Research Station. told The Hindu that the immediate reason to lay thrust on organic farming had stemmed from the perceived health hazards of the indiscriminate use of chemicals in agriculture as evident in the use of endosulfan in cashew farming in Kasaragod.

"We will now embark upon research and farming methodologies that will obviate the use of chemicals and synthetic pesticides in agriculture and rely on crop residue and use of in situ green manure, cow dung and other bio-fertilizers," Mr. Vasanth Kumar said.

Outlet

The Naganahalli research station will establish an outlet on Bangalore-Mysore Highway to market its organically produced fruits, vegetables and cereals. It will ensure a steady supply of organic products by staggering production, he said.

"Our products will be 100 per cent organic and meet the National Standards for Organic Products (NSOP)," Mr. Vasanth Kumar said.

Organically cultivated mangoes, vegetables, seeds, organic rice, bananas, and other horticultural products, will be up for sale. It will be the first outlet to sell organic agricultural produce that is scientifically authenticated by NSOP, he said. The agricultural station is a partner in many all-India coordinated projects, including the one on maize. It caters to the needs of the department, the seeds corporation and farmers. It will also conduct research on conventional farming technologies, but on a lower scale. But the conversion from modern chemical-based agriculture to organic farming should be gradual, he said.

Mr. Vasanth Kumar said that in organic farming, the produce is free from chemical pesticides, nutritionally superior.

"Organic farming lays stress on soil health because soil microbial activity is a must to increase the fertility of the soil. We will lay stress on this aspect," he added.

Mr. Vasanth Kumar said cotton was cultivated only on five per cent of the total agricultural land in the country.

"Almost 50 per cent of the entire chemical pesticide used in India is for cotton farming. Cotton seeds are also used as cattle fodder and these chemicals have now entered the human food chain. Our research on organic farming is expected to come out with methods that will gradually reduce the use of chemicals," he said.

More In: KARNATAKA | NATIONAL