On the table: possible solutions for organic farming as part of a soon-to-be-launched national initiative, India may provide farmers incentives to switch to natural agricultural methods.
Incentives being proposed include monetary assistance for the purchase of high-quality seeds and natural manure for farming, as well as marketing assistance for output. A final decision on the incentives will be made soon, a senior government official mentioned.
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According to an unnamed government official, the government is preparing to launch a national mission on natural farming, which will lay out a road map for the adoption of sustainable and cost-effective natural farming techniques.
Natural farming is a traditional and chemical-free farming system that integrates crops, trees, and cattle without the use of fertilizers. It is mostly focused on on-farm biomass recycling, with a focus on biomass mulching, the use of on-farm cow dung-urine formulation, periodic soil aeration, and the avoidance of any synthetic chemical inputs.
The suggested plan also intends to increase export opportunities by certifying naturally produced agricultural items. Other assistance measures, such as marketing, could also be implemented, according to the official.
‘The government is considering giving farmers monetary incentives to switch to natural farming while also allowing backward linkages with gaushalas (cowsheds) for traditional manure procurement,’ said the source.
Several debates on natural farming approaches have taken place between the NITI Aayog and the agriculture ministry.
In her Budget speech in February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman revealed the government’s intention to launch a natural farming initiative.
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‘At the outset, chemical-free natural farming would be promoted throughout the country, with a concentration on farmers’ lands in 5-km wide lanes along the Ganga,’ she had stated.
The government has covered 650,000 hectares of farmland with natural farming under the pilot project, and the objective is to extend it to 2 million hectares over the next five years.