Organic food has taken the world by storm. And while some countries are riding the wave with very little regulation, The Indian government is embracing the trend with open arms.
In late 2014, the country’s government launched a National Agriculture Development Program called “Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana” to encourage organic farming, among other things (1).
Just a few months later, Sikkim, a state in northeast India, became the first region in the country to grow 100% organic produce. All of the crops grown in the country, equivalent to about 800,000 tons of produce, were grown without the use of harmful pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and toxic GMOs.
All in all, Sikkim’s produce amounted to roughly 65 percent of India’s total organic produce yields.
Shortly after, the western Indian state of Rajasthan devoted itself to growing a few thousands of hectares of organic pulses (including lentils, seeds, beans, and other legumes). The local government saw this as a solution to the rampant malnutrition and pollution in the area by creating jobs, improving access to food, and reducing environmental damage caused by agriculture.
Organic Farming In India
Goa, another western Indian state, has announced that they will gradually transition to all organic farming. The State Department of Agriculture named the plan “Assistance for use of organic inputs by the farmer.”
Ulhas Pai Kakode, Director of Agriculture, commented, “This is the first step we have taken in the direction of organic farming in the state. Hopefully, more and more farmers should adopt the practice of organic farming after availing this scheme.”
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Through the plan, farmers receive government assistance to purchase organic fertilizers and bio-pesticides, but this generosity isn’t without its conditions (2).
These benefits will be limited 50% of total cost for a maximum of 10,000 Indian Rupees (147USD) per hectare for up to two hectares (5 acres), or INR 20,000 (294USD) per beneficiary.
Smaller farmer will also benefit as long as their land is at least 0.1 hectares (0. 0.247 acres) large. This will help support small-scale indigenous farming that has supported the region for millennia.
A Growing Trend
While India might be producing more organic food, they aren’t necessarily consuming it. In fact, the rise in organic farming is meant to meet Western demand.
A study by ASSOCHAM, which stands for The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, suggests that the organic food market in India will reach $1.36 billion by the year 2020.
“The market is growing at 25-30 per cent at present. There is more potential to grow. The government is spending crores of rupees on organic farming. Despite this, not many people are aware of organic farming,” State for Agriculture Mohanbhai Kalyanb (3).
“India is capable of growing all kinds of organic foods. Farmers should be educated to boost organic cultivation… Organic farming not only protects land and water resources, but also improves farm income,” he added.
In the United States, the organic market counted for $43.3 billion last year alone.
India is a rising economic force with the 6th largest economy in the world. It’s been claimed that they will overtake Britain’s economy by 2020.
Until then, India will continue to invest in organic farming and green technology, not only monetarily, but also through education campaigns to stimulate their internal economy as well.