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TS for promoting organic farming

RECENTLY answering a question about organic farming in the Telangana State assembly, Agricultural Minister Niranjan Reddy said that the State government was planning to establish Polytechnic college for promotion of Organic farming.

TS for promoting organic farming
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TS for promoting organic farming 

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Hyderabad: RECENTLY answering a question about organic farming in the Telangana State assembly, Agricultural Minister Niranjan Reddy said that the State government was planning to establish Polytechnic college for promotion of Organic farming.

The state government has identified that growth potential for individual farmers or group of farmers who tie up with the companies for selling the organic produce in the market or directly deliver the organic foods to customers.

Particularly, in the surroundings of Hyderabad, of late, majority of farmers have taken up organic farming. Many farmers are converting barren lands into organic fields. With the increasing awareness about organic farming, some farmers ended practice of cultivation using pesticides.

However, agriculture experts suggest farmers to follow a scientific procedure for converting the pesticide- infested farmland into organic farm. It takes three years for converting a normal farm land into an organic field. The farmers also need to get the organic certificate from the organisations nominated by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) for exporting and marketing the organic foods within the country.

Telangana Organic Certification Authority (TOCA) in the State gives the organic certification for farmers and trade bodies. TSSOCA does the inspection and certification of agricultural products and food processing by assessing conformity of products with NPOP standards and other international standards. "We give the certification after inspecting the farm field every year from the date land was registered. Even during the conversion period, the farmer has to get certificate for each year. At present, we have 250 farmers and traders, who are certified by us to do organic farming and related business," said Yogamayi, Organic Evaluator, TSSOCA.

Though there is good development in organic farming, yet no proper facilities are available to the farmers in the State. The farmers find difficultly in selling the cultivated organic products in the market, as they don't find any separate platform for organic foods when compared with general foods.

"The State government should provide separate stalls for organic product vendors in Rythu Bazaars or vegetable markets to differentiate them from the regular vegetable vendors. The government should also establish separate cold storage units in the State for organic products. These steps will benefit the organic farmers and also encourage the other farmers to take up organic farming," said Vemula Satyanaryana, organic farmer, Sri Shiva Sai Nursery.

Owing to the lack of proper facilities in marketing the products, the farmers sell the products to the companies at half the price or below the market rates. The farmers also face problems in getting the payments from the companies, as they pay the money after a week or a month. The Covid lockdown also made some farmers to discontinue the export of organic products as there was no operation of cargo flights.

"I used to export to Singapore, but due to Covid, the company stopped buying from us. Now, I sell vegetables to Bangalore-based company at fixed price for their products, but they are half of the market rates. I also face financial problems as the company delays payments. This is forcing me to borrow money from other sources for starting new crop," said Thirupathi Reddy, an organic farmer.

There is an increase in consumption of the organic foods by people due to Covid, as they are good for health compared to the cultivated through pesticides and fertilisers. Though many people are interested to consume organic foods, but the higher costs make the hindrance in buying them. People who can afford the organic foods are buying them regularly.

The sales of organic food depend on the location of the stores or markets. The prime places like Jubilee Hills, Madhapur, Gachibowli areas in Hyderabad will have more number of regular customers than other parts of the city.

"Owing to the already high cost of the organic foods, people hesitate to buy them and now with onset of Covid pandemic, the business has not been good. Our store has less business, where as in Kondapur we have very good sales," said Arun, SR Nagar Store In-charge, Lakshyas Natural Foods.

The State government and corporates should chip in to develop proper facilities to encourage more farmers to take up the organic farming, thereby reduce the prices of the organic foods in the market.

Dinesh Macharla
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