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Kerala's Making an Ambitious Pledge to Go Organic

Despite its congenial climate, the Indian state of Kerala is not agriculturally self-sufficient. Relying on produce from neighboring states wasn't a problem for Keralans, who have high literacy rates and tend to choose better paying jobs over farm positions.

But then chemicals on imported food were blamed for high cancer rates. This, in turn, has sparked a revolution: A push by the state government to ensure its agriculture is 100 percent organic by 2020.

Just five years ago, Kerala imported 70 percent of its food. Biju Prabakhar, the director of Agricultural Development for Kerala, says that between 2010 and 2013 they started finding high amounts of pesticide residue on vegetables as well as antibiotics in meat and poultry.

“[The chemical residue] was actually widely publicized in the media — that these kinds of spurious materials are in our food, and the medical community agreed this is one of main reasons for the cancer, because Kerala has a high incidence of cancer,” Prabakhar said.

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