Staff Reporter

Interactive workshop on draft organic farming policy organised

Say organic farming was given up in the 1960s

Pesticides have contaminated most foodgrains

PALAKKAD: Representatives of farmers’ organisations and environmentalists have demanded financial help in the initial years of organic farming for those who switch over from present-day cultivation.

They were participating in an interactive workshop on the draft Organic Farming Policy, 2007 here on Tuesday.

They said organic farming was abandoned in the 1960s when Green Revolution started. But “modern agriculture” had damaged soil and polluted water and air. Pesticides contaminated most foodgrains and farm produce. Runoff from farmland had contaminated wetlands, rivers, tanks, ponds, reservoirs and lakes and the life in them. Health hazards had become unimaginably high.

Incidence of fatal diseases rose, they said. Pandiyode Prabhakaran, general secretary of National Farmers’ Protection Committee, said farmers wanted to return to the traditional sustainable ways of cultivation without harming the ecosystem. But it could be a slow process. There were doubts on the practicability of organic farming. It would bring down the yield. This would put farmers in further loss, leading them to debt traps. Organic pesticides and manures were not available. So, the government should provide financial help to the farmers to meet this loss and help them to go for organic farming. He said the State government had double standard in this. While it talked of encouraging organic farming, it campaigned for cultivation using chemical fertilizers and pesticides to increase production.

V.S. Vijayan, Director, Kerala State Biodiversity Board, in his introductory remarks, said the objectives of the Organic Farming Policy were making farming sustainable, remunerative and respectable; enhancing soil fertility and productivity naturally; soil and water conservation; agricultural bio-security; food and nutritional security; and so on. In the discussions on the environment policy, the major issues raised were ensuring conservation of resources; equitable access and sustainable use of resources; efficiency in environment resource use; and mitigation and restoration activities.

The draft policy called for integration of environmental concern in economic and social development and enhancement of resources for environmental conservation.

A number of environmental groups, non-governmental organisations and others participated. Municipal chair person P. Devayani inaugurated the meeting organised by the State Biodiversity Board, in association with the nature club of Government Victoria College. Alice Kutty Mathew, Principal of the college, presided. R.V. Varma, Member Secretary of the Board; Latha of River Protection Council; and Tony Thomas and S. Guruvayurappan, environmentalists, spoke.