(Down to Earth: Agriculture)
Dec 17: India’s natural farming push: Obvious measures ignored, points out Standing Committee – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/india-s-natural-farming-push-obvious-measures-ignored-points-out-standing-committee-80736
- GS-3: Agriculture
India’s natural farming push
Context: In a conclave, Prime Minister Narendra Modi encouraged farmers to have at least one village in every gram panchayat for natural farming methods. He highlighted the importance of ‘gaudhan’, or the use of cow dung-urine formulations to give a boost to natural farming. During a virtual meeting on natural and zero-budget farming held in Gujarat, he emphasized the importance of natural farming by suggesting that a farmer can harvest many crops in the year through this method. He also mentioned that the maximum benefit of natural farming will be for 80 percent of the small farmers who spend a lot on chemical fertilizers.
The country’s organic farming coverage remains poor despite abundant indigenous resources. The Standing Committee on Agriculture had asked the Centre to launch a scheme for procurement of cattle dung from farmers to boost organic farming and also solve the problem of stray cattle.
- India has the largest cattle inventory followed by Brazil and the United States of America.
- As per the World Cattle Inventory Ranking of Countries in 2020, roughly 65 percent of the world’s cattle are in India, Brazil, and the USA.
- India accounts for almost 31 percent of the total animal population, to be precise 30.70 percent.
But the government ignored such a crucial recommendation, hence, the Standing Committee released a report expressing dissatisfaction with the Centre’s “casual” reply.
- In March 2021, the committee asked the Centre to learn from Chhattisgarh’s cow dung procurement scheme, Godhan Nyay Yojana, and launch one such scheme for the procurement of cattle dung from farmers.
- It recommended that procuring cattle dung directly from the farmers will not only augment their income and provide employment opportunities but also address the problem of stray cattle and promote organic farming in the country, as the country has a vast cattle population.
- The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare argued that the government is already financially assisting farmers for the procurement of cow dung under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region schemes
- Farmers practicing organic farming have milch animals/cattle. However, under PKVY, cow dung is not being procured for composting by the states.
- The government of Chhattisgarh is procuring cow dung under ‘Godhan Naya Yojona’ from 2020 at the rate of Rs 2 per kilogram from farmers for vermicomposting. Since under PKVY-certified organic farming is being done, dung from stray cattle is not allowed.
The committee on analyzing the action taken by the Government
In a report on December 14, the committee reiterated their earlier recommendations for the Government to launch the scheme for procurement of cow dung with the department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying and asked the department also to respond clearly on its recommendations.
- Out of 140.1 million hectares (ha) net sown area, only 0.409 million ha is under natural farming in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.
- Only 2.7 percent of the total sown area was under organic farming.
The Way Forward
- The time has come to shift our focus from lab experiments to land. In this, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, agricultural universities, and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research can help to take natural farming to more and more farmers.
- The government is planning to make a network of labs that will give certification for organic products and farmers’ land, which in turn will help farmers adopt organic farming to get a better market for their products.
- The Government needs to lay down a comprehensive scheme for procurement of cow dung in the lines of the Godhan Nyay Yojana — Chhattisgarh government’s cow dung procurement scheme. As the Central government wants to double the income of farmers by 2022 besides other supplementary programs, such cow dung procurement scheme could be handy in meeting the national target.
Can you answer the following question?
- Cow dung can strengthen our country’s economy. Examine.
- Doubling Farmer’s Income