Draft Planning Board Policy on Harmful Organic Agriculture for Kerala: Expert – The New Indian Express


Express press service

THRISSUR: Expressing concern over the State Planning Council’s draft policy document which proposes to improve crop productivity but denies certain practices like organic farming, the former chairman of the Biodiversity Council, VS Vijayan, said the state government should take a firm stance to promote natural farming practices.

The TNIE had pointed out the Planning Council’s draft policy that called organic farming an irrational practice. Commenting on the matter, Vijayan said that while he was not fully aware of what exactly the draft policy meant, if correct, it should not be allowed.

Dr. VS Vijayan

“When the organic farming policy was first enacted during the tenure of the government led by VS Achuthanandan, I was the happiest person on earth. But it took several months for the policy to gain cabinet sanction. Mullakkara Ratnakaran was agriculture minister when the cabinet first approved the state’s organic agriculture policy. The actual policy document that was released after the cabinet decision was watered down, a far cry from how it was actually conceptualized. Out of 39 provisions of the policy, 34 have been changed,” he said.

Vijayan revealed that a senior IAS official in the state, who was then commissioner for agricultural production, was against organic farming and the case was suspended for 14 months. Vijayan pointed out that agricultural researchers in the state are against organic farming. “When Kerala University of Agriculture is against the practice of organic farming, how can we expect the government which relies on scientific advice from the university to take a different stance.

Yet, through appropriate discussions and awareness programs, we have developed the policy. If this is to continue, the government should work to promote organic farming in a phased manner across the state within a specified timeframe,” he said.

He added that when VS Sunilkumar was Minister of Agriculture, what he advocated was good agricultural practices, promoting both organic and non-organic farming. Vijayan said when the policy was discussed, it was recommended to compensate farmers when they adopt organic farming.

“We expected a loss of around 30% for the farmer when he switched to organic farming. They should be compensated to be able to continue farming. It was also decided to promote organic farming of cash crops first before expanding to other crops like vegetables,” he said.

“I plan to meet with the Chief Minister to draw his attention to the matter. Organic farming was planned for the good of the people and the so-called experts in the field must understand that using chemical fertilizers for cultivation will not be sustainable in the long term,” he added.

Asked about the debate surrounding Sri Lanka‘s food crisis linked to organic farming, Vijayan said adopting such a practice all at once would not be possible.

THRISSUR: Expressing concern over the State Planning Council’s draft policy document which proposes to improve crop productivity but denies certain practices like organic farming, the former chairman of the Biodiversity Council, VS Vijayan, said the state government should take a firm stance to promote natural farming practices. The TNIE had pointed out the Planning Council’s draft policy that called organic farming an irrational practice. Commenting on the matter, Vijayan said that while he was not fully aware of what exactly the draft policy meant, if correct, it should not be allowed. Dr VS Vijayan “When the organic farming policy was first adopted under the government led by VS Achuthanandan, I was the happiest person on earth. But it took several months for the policy to gain cabinet sanction. Mullakkara Ratnakaran was agriculture minister when the cabinet first approved the state’s organic agriculture policy. The actual policy document that was released after the cabinet decision was watered down, a far cry from how it was actually conceptualized. Out of 39 provisions of the policy, 34 have been changed,” he said. Vijayan revealed that a senior IAS official in the state, who was then commissioner for agricultural production, was against organic farming and the case was suspended for 14 months. Vijayan pointed out that agricultural researchers in the state are against organic farming. “When Kerala University of Agriculture is against the practice of organic farming, how can we expect the government which relies on scientific advice from the university to take a different stance. Yet, through appropriate discussions and awareness programs, we have developed the policy. If this is to continue, the government should work to promote organic farming in a phased manner across the state within a specified timeframe,” he said. He added that when VS Sunilkumar was Minister of Agriculture, what he advocated was good agricultural practices, promoting both organic and non-organic farming. Vijayan said when the policy was discussed, it was recommended to compensate farmers when they adopt organic farming. “We expected a loss of around 30% for the farmer when he switched to organic farming. They should be compensated to be able to continue farming. It was also decided to promote organic farming of cash crops first before expanding to other crops like vegetables,” he said. “I plan to meet with the Chief Minister to draw his attention to the matter. Organic farming was planned for the good of the people and the so-called experts in the field must understand that using chemical fertilizers for cultivation will not be sustainable in the long term,” he added. Asked about the debate surrounding Sri Lanka’s food crisis linked to organic farming, Vijayan said adopting such a practice all at once would not be possible.

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