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No to organic farming

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Jan 31, 2009 | From the print edition

Punjab farmer commission says it's not feasible



THE Punjab State Farmers Commission has said that organic farming is not feasible in the state due to shortage of organic raw material.

The commission in its report has advocated a mix of organic and synthetic chemical farming. "Organic material like green manure available in the state is sufficient only for 20 per cent of the land," said G S Kalkat, the commission's chairman. "Fertilizers and pesticides need to be used in the remaining cultivable land to maintain yields," he added.

It will take a decade to breed livestock to meet the state's requirement of cow dung and cow urine used in organic farming, he added. The commission in its report has also suggested a special legislation to curb destruction of organic raw material like rice straw. Nearly 80 per cent of the rice straw in the state is burnt leading to loss of 227,000 tonnes of nitrogen (soil nutrient) worth Rs 250 crore.

The report is largely based on studies by Punjab Agriculture University that has said that discontinuing the use of chemical pesticides in certain areas had reduced rice yield by 20 per cent and wheat produce by 60 per cent.

The report has been termed scientifically flawed by G V Ramajaneyulu, executive director of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture that promotes farming without pesticides in Andhra Pradesh. "Nutrient availability cannot be equated with cow dung availability. Dung and cow urine is used as inoculants," Ramajaneyulu said. He added that nobody is looking into availability of fertilizer, either in Punjab or in the rest of the country. "Subsidies to the fertiliser industry have increased but there is shortage in most places," Ramanjanyeulu said.

Ajay Tripathy of Kheti Virasat Mission, a non-profit promoting natural farming in Punjab, criticized the report for ignoring sustainable farming initiatives in Punjab and other states.

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