`Employ practical approach to promote organic farming'

MORE TO READ: The Vice-Chancellor of TNAU, C. Ramasamy, releasing a publication of the Horticulture Research Station in Udhagamandalam on Thursday. The First copy is being received by the Nilgiris Collector, Santhosh K. Misra (right). - Photo: D. Radhakrishnan  

Special Correspondent

Chemicals in agriculture affect environment: VC

Growers switch to safer methods of cultivation`Use technology to improve productivity'

Udhagamandalam: Organic farming has been recognised world wide as the best alternative to chemical farming, said the Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), C. Ramasamy, while inaugurating a three-day national-level, `Brain Storming Conference on Organic Agriculture', organised by the Horticulture Research Station (HRS) and the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) here on Thursday.

Reverse situation

Stating that excessive chemical farming over the years had led to chemical contaminated food products, low nutrition, poor taste and adverse effects on the soil, water and the environment, he said that appropriate technologies and research to reverse the existing situation and simultaneously improve farm productivity and income was the need of the hour.

However, in promoting organic farming, a practical approach backed by scientifically proven facts should be adopted. Stating that one should avoid attacking the existing system of farming while propagating an alternative system, Dr. Ramasamy said that misuse of chemical inputs had overshadowed the benefits of the green revolution.

Organic farming had been in vogue till about fifty years ago. However, it was now in focus. The rising concern over the hazards of chemical farming has induced growers worldwide to switch over to safer methods of crop production. Various forms of organic farming have gained momentum. At present organic methods of crop cultivation was being practiced on about 23 million hectares in various parts of the world including Germany, Australia, New Zealand and USA. About 20 million hectares were being converted.

However, in India organic agriculture was just beginning to become popular. At present, about 2.25 lakh hectares were under organic cultivation in States such as Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. The organically produced crops included tea, cotton, coffee, medicinal and aromatic plants, spices and basmati rice. The global market for organic foods has risen from three billion dollars in 1994 to around 25 billion dollars in 2005. The TNAU would introduce a PG (Diploma) course in Organic Farming this year.

The Nilgiris Collector, Santhosh K. Misra, who presided, said that with adhering to the conditions laid down by the World Trade Organisation having become the order of the day, food products with pesticide residues cannot enter the international market. Growing, handling, packaging etc of food items should be in accordance with the international rules.

Stating that the farmers should be made aware of the benefits of organic agriculture, he said that through concerted efforts it was possible to convert the Nilgiris into an organic farming zone. The Chief Consultant, NHM, New Delhi R.K. Pathak said that though theoretically switching over to organic farming seemed difficult, practically it was easy. What is needed is a change in mindset, he added. Within 10 or 20 years it was possible to make India a major organic farming country.

A compulsion

The Director of Extension Education, TNAU, E. Vadivel, said that organic farming was no longer an option but a compulsion. The Assistant Commissioner, Horticulture, New Delhi, B.S. Negi, also spoke. The Dean, Horticulture, TNAU, D.V. Thatham, welcomed the gathering. Dr. Ramasamy released a manual in English on horticulture. Its Tamil version was released by Mr.Misra. The Head, HRS, N. Selvaraj, proposed a vote of thanks. Among the delegates were horticultural officers from Bhutan.