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Why Organic Farmers in Bihar are Struggling with Low Yield and High Input Cost

When Mongabay-Hindi visited the organic clusters of Vaishali and Mokama, many farmers complained that no meetings were held to train the farmers to reduce their input costs and get high yield business. A farmer from Mokama said that in the last two years, hardly one or two such meetings took place regarding organic farming.

Dr Poonam Batra
Organic Farmers in Bihar are Struggling with Low Yield and High Input Cost.
Organic Farmers in Bihar are Struggling with Low Yield and High Input Cost.

Bihar government had a head start on the organic farming concept and launched its organic corridor two years ago in 13 districts along with river Ganga Patna, Buxar, Bhojpur, Saran, Vaishali, Samastipur, Khagaria, Begusarai, Lakhisarai, Bhagalpur, Munger, Katihar, and Nalanda. But organic farmers of Bihar are struggling with low yield, limited selling avenues, and unavailability of effective pest management on the organic crops.

Farmers are forced to sell produce at lower rates as there is no market for organic products. The farmers are availing of grants under the organic farming scheme even after getting the grants they are still using chemical fertilizers. Sunil Kumar Pankaj, the director, of BSSOCA, says, “After receiving applications from farmers for certificates, our team conducts field visits thrice and collects samples for testing. Out of the total farmers who apply, the samples 2-3 percent fail the lab test due to the presence of chemical fertilizers. A source from Buxar further revealed that “Officially, about 1000 farmers are part of the organic corridor.

But only 25% of them are doing organic farming. Rest all are using chemical means and also taking grant from the government. Agriculture officials are also aware of all these facts. Mr. Manoj Kumar, District Agriculture Officer of Buxar district, says, “Around 50 percent of the farmers involved in the organic corridor in the district are using chemical fertilizers. It is difficult to stop them as it requires close monitoring. The most effective way is to make them aware of the importance of organic farming. Also, the low yields, high input cost, and heavy insect pest attacks demotivate them to follow the organic farming guidelines.”

When Mongabay-Hindi visited the organic clusters of Vaishali and Mokama, many farmers complained that no meetings were held to train the farmers to reduce their input costs and get high yield business. A farmer from Mokama said that in the last two years, hardly one or two such meetings took place regarding organic farming. There is also concern regarding the future of Farmer Producer Companies (FPOs). As Vinod Tiwari, who is associated with a Buxar-based FPO, reveals, “Farmers do not have any training in organic farming. Apart from limited markets, there are many other problems. If the government does not pay due attention to these, organic farming will remain on paper only.”Kavitha Kuruganti, who is associated with Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), maintains, “Market is a big problem in the country.

But if farmers are lured by the market, then organic farming will not be sustainable. The day market support is not available, they will move towards chemical farming. The government should focus on how to increase the income of the farmers by reducing the input cost in organic farming.” She adds, “If farmers are switching to chemical pesticides, then it is not their fault but the fault of the government, which has not adopted the right model.” She said that around seven lakh farmers are successfully adopting organic farming in Andhra Pradesh, with new farmers joining every year. She has given the example of Andhra Pradesh and said that “It seems that organic farming is being done in Bihar under the component of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) of the central government.

In Andhra Pradesh, the guidelines of PKVI were changed and implemented; due to which organic farming is picking up every year. In Andhra Pradesh, the government did not give any grants, and neither did they lure them in the name of the market. The state enriched the knowledge base of the farmers by teaching them how to get more products at less cost. A similar model needs to be implemented to get a successful model in Bihar as well.”

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