State’s organic farming policy criticised

By adopting a policy decision to switch over to organic farming, Kerala could be chasing a delusion, according to S.Ganesan, chairman, International Treaties Expert Committee, Indian Chemical Council.

Talking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a national seminar on `WTO, FTAs and Impact on Agriculture and Allied Sectors’ organised by the WTO Cell of the Department of Agriculture here on Thursday, he said the organic farming policy announced by Kerala revealed the lack of commercial acumen.

“It is significant that states like Sikkim and Kerala that have lagged behind in the agricultural sector are making the switch to organic farming. You cannot turn your back to technology in this era”.

Dr.Ganesan said the amount of money spent on promoting organic farming in India was quite disproportionate to the returns. He observed that organic farm products had contributed very little to the country’s exports. “Since 2007, the Government of India has spent close to Rs.3000 crore on organic farming. Yet, of the total agricultural exports of $36.96 bn from India, organic products account for only $0.36 bn, a share of just 1 per cent. Only 87,676 metric tonnes of organic products were exported in 2011- 12”.

He said Kerala’s expectations of riding a global demand for organic food products were largely misplaced. The global market for organic food products is niche and amounts to just $ 60 bn. Most of the demand is for organic meat and met by local producers”.

In his presentation at the seminar, he said Kerala could significantly improve its export earnings by identifying markets for its products like jackfruit, gooseberry, tamarind and palm jaggery. “Much of the jackfruit produce in the state is wasted. There is a huge potential waiting to be tapped”.

Dr.Ganesan stressed the need for India to adopt strict standards for import of agricultural products. “For too long we have quietly accepted the standards fixed by other countries importing our goods. It is time we flexed our muscles by imposing Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) standards for import and preventing unchecked entry of food products into the country”.

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