The importance of promoting traditional organic paddy varieties was the focus of a conference organized by the Department of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics at Bishop Heber College in collaboration with Consumer Research, Education, Action, Training and Empowerment ( CREATE) and its affiliate program Save Our Tamil Nadu Rice Campaign on Friday. The event included an exhibition of traditional paddy strains.
“For the past 15 years, we have organized the National Paddy Festival and distributed traditional rice seeds to farmers. As a result, they started switching to organic rice farming. But they face a major problem in marketing their products. Only when they can sell their harvest can farmers maintain organic farming. We are taking steps to remedy this situation from this year,” said P. Duraisingham, President of Madurai-based CREATE. The Hindu.
“As Saturday is World Consumer Day, we have invited consumer group leaders from 40 districts to brief them on the medicinal value and nutritional benefits of traditional paddy,” he added.
Lack of certification is a major drawback in organic rice farming today, said Duraisingham, who is also a member of the Bureau of Indian Standards. “We would like the state government to formulate an organic food policy to regulate outlets. From the consumer’s point of view, the price of organic rice is exorbitant. This too needs to be normalized as some farmers and middlemen create a false impression about the high cost of organic farming,” he said.
In her remarks, Usha Soolapani, national campaign manager for the ‘Save Our Rice’ campaign, said: “Along with wheat, maize and potato, rice is one of the four crops that ensure global food security. Paddy is part of Asian culture and India is a major rice producer. But even though farmers grow more than three times what we need, they still lose money when they invest in growing rice. This is why they are moving away towards more remunerative crops such as bananas, coconuts and areca.
R. Ponnambalam, Managing Director of CREATE, Sridhar Radhakrishnan, National Coordinator of the Save Our Rice Campaign and Bakkiyalakshmi, Assistant Professor of Biotechnology, Bon Secours College, Thanjavur also spoke.