Karnataka was the first state in India to adopt a policy on organic farming in 2004. Since then, several initiatives have helped farmers fight drought, but costly certification is discouraging poor farmers from taking it up
BSilicon Valley ENGALURU, THE of India, is fast turning into an organic farming hub. The bustling city is home to India’s biggest organic restaurant, Green Path Organic Estate (gpoe).Spread over 2,322 sq m,its detox cafeteria serves traditional organic foods, such as millet bisibhat and sweet snacks made of ragi.gpoe purchases certified organic food from a voluntary farming association called the Organic Food Club (ofc) in Belgaum. ofc supplies jaggery,maize,pulses,vegetables and fruits to city-based outlets and exports its produce to Europe.Then there is Lumiere, India’s first organic restaurant,which became fully functional in 2009. It purchases food from a registered farmers’ association called Shaja Samruddhi Nandana.
These outlets provide a tiny glimpse of the organic movement Karnataka has been witnessing for the past 10 years.In Bengaluru alone, there were nearly 100 organic restaurants and outlets till 2013 and more than 82,000 hectares (ha) of land in the state is under organic cultivation,benefitting more than 166,000 farmers (see ‘Karnataka’s organic boom’, p21).
Inspired by organic heroes
In March 2004, Karnataka became the first state in India to introduce a policy on organic farming.This was adopted in the midst of an agrarian crisis in the state that was leading to farmer suicides.“We wanted to reduce the farmers’ input cost by minimising their dependency on costly fertilisers and pesticides and save them from the vicious cycle of poverty and debt,” says H K Patil, former state agriculture minister. According to the 59th round of the National Sample Survey Organisation on agricultural crisis in 2002, Karnataka was among the top five states in India which had the highest agricultural household debt,averaging The high
Prabhu Mediwala, a small farmer from Kamdhenu village in Dharwad district, has turned a rocky patch of land into an organic agricultural farm and doubled his income
JITENDRA / CSE