One vil­lage at a time

Down to Earth - - IMPACTS -

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

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