Center targets bringing more area under organic farming: Tomar
Government offering assistance to set up hi-tech nurseries for exotic fruits
The Government is planning to bring 6.5 lakh hectares of land under organic farming in the country through Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER), Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Tomar told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
In a written reply in Lok Sabha, Tomar said currently 59.12 lakh hectares have already been brought under organic farming as certified by National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) and Participatory Guarantee System (PGS).
Citing the report published by Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Statistics 2022, the Minister said India ranks fourth in terms of certified area globally.
The US, European Union (EU) and Canada are the three major destinations for the export of Indian organic products. India exported 1.86 lakh tonnes (lt) of organic products valued at $326.15 million to the US in 2021-22. This was followed by EU and Canada at 1.70 lt (valued $302.39 million) and 40,677 tonnes (valued $49.01 million), respectively.
To a separate query on the promotion of exotic fruits’ cultivation in the country, Tomar said the assistance is provided under the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) scheme for the promotion of exotic/foreign fruits such as dragon fruit, kiwi, passion fruit, etc., in the country.
Under MIDH, assistance is provided for setting up new hi-tech nurseries, small nurseries, tissue culture (TC) units and upgradation of existing TC units, for production and distribution of good quality seeds and planting material of fruit crops, including exotic/foreign fruits, he said.
Drone assistance to Kerala
Answering to a question on the use of drones in agriculture, the Minister said the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, so far, has provided funds amounting to Rs.2.25 crore to the Kerala government for the purchase of 14 drones for its demonstration in 4,000 hectares through farmer producer organisations. The department has also provided Rs.52.50 crore to Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) for purchase of 300 drones and their demonstrations in 75,000 hectares through 100 krishi vijnan kendras and 75 ICAR institutions across the country.
One of the Lok Sabha members wanted to know whether yield across many crops in east Asian countries, especially of China, is far higher than that of India. Answering to this, Tomar said the yield of a crop depends on various factors such as weather extremities, rainfall, soil type, agro-climatic condition, irrigation facilities, types of crops cultivated, use of fertilisers and pesticides, length of growing seasons, technology used, etc.
He said the yield level of China and some other East Asian countries in certain crop categories is higher than that in India. At the same time, the yield level of India is higher than China and some other East Asian countries in some other crop categories. Multiple crops are grown by farmers in India in a year, he said.
R&D in agri sector
Replying to a member’s query on research and development in agriculture sector, Tomar said ICAR Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) has developed a clear roadmap for next 10 years harnessing the power of science and innovation for securing food and nutritional security of the people, farmers’ prosperity and to enhance natural resource base to promote inclusive growth and sustainable development of Indian agriculture sector.
The focused areas of research and developmental include genetic enhancement of plants, animals, fish for higher productivity under increased intensity of biotic and abiotic stresses; productivity enhancement through sustainable intensification and mechanisation of agriculture and food system; and development of energy-efficient technologies and farming practices among others.
Replying to a separate query on the shortage of straw fodder this year and increase in its price, Parshottam Rupala, Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, said the shortage of straw fodder is generally reported in some States during summer months. He said the cost of straw fodder was also comparatively higher as compared to other months due to non-availability of greens and more demand for fodder.