Reap­ing or­ganic

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

Down to Earth - - AGRICULTURE - JI­TEN­DRA |

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


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