With organic farming reviving across India, and the world, the area under such cultivation is expected to increase from 7 lakh hectare (ha) now to 20 lakh ha by 2020.
Before the onset of Green Revolution in the 1960s, organic farming was widely in use, but productivity was low. India was forced to depend on imports due to acute shortages. During the Revolution (1960s-1980s), food production increased but its benefits did not reach farmers.
Besides, soil fertility and ground water quality and volumes, due to excessive use of fertilisers and irrigation, were impacted very negatively.
“In the 1980s, farmers revived organic farming and, in the 1990s they discovered new commercial opportunities,” Manoj Kumar Menon, Executive Director, International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture (ICCOA), Bengaluru, told BusinessLine.
“In 2001, the Government of India announced a national policy on growth of organic products. The confirmed area under certified organic farming increased from just 42,000 ha in 2003-04 to 7 lakh ha now. In fact, in 2016-17, the overall area under certified management for organic farming is 11.8 lakh ha, including area under-conversion in Year-1, Year-2 and Year-3 stages.”
Among the organic crops, the largest area, at 3.8 lakh ha, is under cotton cultivation. Other popular organic agro-products include high-value soyabean, fruits and vegetables, cereals and basmati rice, tea, coffee and milk, he said.