Come new year, and Uttrakhand will have its own Organic Agriculture Act making it the second state in India, after Sikkim, to have its own Act. It will be a major leap in transforming Uttarakhand into a fully 'organic state' of the country and the Act will lay thrust on cultivating indigenous organic products.
State government sources said that the Uttarakhand Organic Agriculture Act has been modeled on the one implemented by Sikkim, the first fully organic state in the country that has implemented organic practices on around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land.
Director of Uttarakhand Organic Commodity Board (UOCB), Vinay Kumar, said, "Our focus is on 'organizing' unorganized organic sector of Uttarakhand which has very high potential for buyers of national and international markets. The Act will regulate the private agencies, NGOs, etc. engaged in export, trade and processing of organic agricultural produce. Also, the entire process of organic certification for the farmers would become extremely easy with the induction of Organic Act."
In Uttarakhand, almost 40,000 hectares of farming land has already been turned into organic and about 80,000 small and medium farmers are already committed towards the go-green initiative of the state government. The state has maximum organic farms in Rudraprayag (3,422 hectares) followed by Pithoragarh (3,241) and Uttarkashi (2,966).
Uttarakhand's organic products are being purchased by 30 different organic firms in India from as far as Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat, according to department's data. The data of the UOCB also indicates that farmers are reaping good benefit by selling amaranth, millets and medicinal and aromatic products.
However, experts said that turning the chemically-treated terrain into organic will be a challenging task. In the hills, apple and vegetable belts see intensive use of chemicals. And, in the plains the transformation of land cannot be done instantly due to fear of losing food security.
While the state is planning to introduce the Act from the third week of January, farmers are still doubtful.
A farmer from Biharigarh, Jayanti Devi, said, "How much surety they would give us about marketing and safeguarding our fields from wild animals? Here we are not being able to save our basic crops, how are they expecting us to go organic without assuring us that our produces will capture a stronger market?"
Uttarakhand's agriculture sector which contributed 22 per cent in gross state domestic product (GSDP) in 2004-05 has taken a nose dive to touch almost nine per cent in one decade as per a study conducted by ASSOCHAM, previous year.