GUWAHATI, Aug 9 � The State Agriculture Department is working on an ambitious project to spread organic farming with support from the Government of India.
Meanwhile, a programme to prepare the farmers of Golaghat district for organic certification is also on, while the State Government is undertaking 785 demonstration programmes on its own, to spread the knowledge and technology of organic farming of sali paddy among the farmers.
Another positive development taking place in this respect is that construction of the Panjabari Organic Super Market of the Agriculture Department is nearing completion. It is expected that this super market for organic agricultural items is expected to come up within the current financial year.
It needs mention here that the State Government had implemented a pilot project on organic cultivation of the sweet-smelling joha rice in the districts of Udalguri and Lakhimpur between 2004-�05 and 2007-�08. The State could export 17.5 MT of organic joha rice to Switzerland in 2007.
But due to the ban imposed by the Union Government on export of non-Basmati rice in 2008-�09, the export of this aromatic rice could not be continued and hence the scheme had to be abandoned, sources in the Agriculture Department said.
Sources said that the Government of Assam (GoA) is submitting its proposal for the organic farming project to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation. The Government of India is expected to extend, during the current financial year, a financial support worth Rs 1 crore to the State for the purpose.
By this time, the GoA is undertaking demonstration programmes, on its own, spending the amount of Rs 46 lakh it had already provided for in its 2009-�10 budget. Implementation of these demonstration programmes started in 2010-11. The demonstration programmes for organic farming of sali paddy are running in different districts of the State. Each demonstration will cover two bighas of crop land.
The above amount of Rs 46 lakh is also meant for a 100-hectare (750 bighas of land) organic certification programme of vegetables and mustard seeds in Golaghat district. This organic certification programme is running for the second year now. The first year of the programme was spent on selection and training up the farmers and identification as well as categorization of their crop land.
Now these farmers are readied with the organic technology for cultivation of vegetables and mustard crop in the coming Rabi season. The vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, knolkhol, broccoli and brinjal will be grown in this season, besides mustard seeds. This will be followed by cultivation of the Kharif vegetable crops like ridge gourd, cowpea, ladies finger etc.
The organic certification programme in Golaghat District will have to complete three years� consecutive cultivation to make the farmers eligible for securing the organic certificate. However, it is learnt that in 2010-�11, the GoA has not made any budget provision for running the programme for the third consecutive year.
The State Agriculture Department has engaged M/s SGS India Pvt Ltd (Gurgaon), which is one of the organic certification agencies accredited by the GoI, for the Golaghat certification programme.
It needs mention here that the State Agriculture Department has received an amount of Rs 70.24 lakh from the GoI for development of infrastructure in matters related with organic farming, like construction of vermiculture hatchery unit, various training programmes, organic input demonstration, model organic farms, service provider schemes etc, the funds was received in 2008-�09 fiscal, sources said.