One village at a time
burden of debt drove 205 farmers to suicide in 2003. Such alarming statistics prompted the government to promote organic crops that are drought-resilient.
For this, the government roped in those farmers who were popular in the state for starting the trend of organic farming in early 1990s and have been successfully pursuing it for decades.These organic heroes include Muttalik Desai from Belgaum, Chinappa Budhial from Gadag, Veeranya Gowdapatil from Dharwad and Lalitha Adiga from Udupi, among others who have played a crucial role in kickstarting the organic movement (see ‘Ordinary farmers,extraordinary feats’). It is with their help the government has formed its organic policy.“I never miss a village fair as it gives me an opportunity to tell fellow farmers about the benefits of organic farming,” says 63-yearold Budhial. Desai helps small farmers prepare bio-pesticides. The first phase of the policy implementation in 2004 was the Organic Village scheme, whereby it was planned to bring 100 ha of a village under organic farming in each of the 30 districts.The programme was taken to the next level after every three years—the time needed to turn a field into organic. In 200607, it was extended to all 176 talukas in the state. When the Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power, it restructured the programme in 2010. Under the new model, interested farmers of a village could opt for organic farming instead of a fixed area being brought under organic cultivation.
The Congress, which returned to power in 2013, went back on its earlier model of bringing 100 ha of a village under organic farming.In 2013-14,the programme was extended to the level of hobli (group of panchayats) and renamed Savayava Bhagya Yojane. Currently, groups of farmers in 571