Looking at the current trends, it doesn’t seem long when the farmers discard Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and toxic pesticides. And with it, will come hopes of expanding natural farming methods in Meghalaya.
This post is a continuation of our previous conversation with Mr. Canning Shabong, an Agricultural Development Officer in the Department of Agriculture, Meghalaya. He had talked about the Government’s commitment to promoting natural and organic farming.
“Organic farming occupies just 1% of the global farm area, making it an untapped asset to produce enough food for a population that could reach 10 billion by 2050. Source
What is Organic Farming?
According to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Organic farming is "a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects." Mr. Canning Shabong had explained this as:
"The diagram below explains the entire agricultural process. Here the square represents agriculture. The bottom left signifies traditional agriculture which are the farming methods practiced by our forefathers. This include slash and burn or other traditional farming practices based on the region.
Some of these traditional agricultural methods fall under sustainable agriculture, organic agriculture and a small amount into certified organic. Though certified organic is the smallest section in the agricultural square there is a strong movement towards organic agriculture."
With an aim to promote organic farming in Meghalaya. The government of Meghalaya has introduced Meghalaya mission organic in 2014. The mission aimed at
"bringing 2 lakh hectares’ of farmland under Organic Adoption and Certification by 2020 and make rganic Agriculture, Food Processing and Eco- Tourism as the driver for empowerment of rural economies."
MISSION ORGANIC = SAFE AND NUTRITIOUS FOOD
How can the mission be implemented across the 3,39,217 Hectares of cropped land in Meghalaya? According to a report by the Meghalaya Basin Development Authority, the mission will allow the state to partner with eight service providers for organic adoption and certification programs, to cover all the 11 districts of Meghalaya. For such vendors to join in, the department needs to identify key crops which could be focused on for the organic adoption.
Any Target for Mission Organic?
The mission aims to convert 40,000 Hectares of agricultural land initially. Here is the district-wise division of the area:
East Khasi Hills district - 5,000 Hectares
West Khasi Hills district – 4,000 Hectares
Ri-Bhoi district – 4,000 Hectares
South West Khasi Hills district – 2,000 Hectares
West Jaintia Hills district – 1,000 Hectares
East Jaintia Hills district – 2,000 Hectares
Garo Hills - 22,000 Hectares
After knowing these details, Zizira explorers were curious to know more. We wanted to know the current status, what is going on? What is the progress of the mission? They asked Mr. Shabong:
"Starting in 2014, the initial phase saw farmer’s registering for the mission to avail and follow organic farming techniques. Training on farm input generation were given to the local farmers. After seeing positive results, the mission was pushed forward and in 2016, organic inputs were supplied to farmers. This was followed by internal inspections and training. The mission has successfully registered 41,000 farmers."
There seems to be some real determination behind this mission. With the mission going forward with such pace it could only be a matter of time when the farmers of the state can expect to get better returns from their produce owing to the high demand for organic food.
Just as we were digging in deep, a recent news article caught our attention in which Meghalaya finds mention as a state with immense trade potential for farm produce cultivated organically. "Make Meghalaya into a state producing 100 % organic farm product," JS Deepak, Under Secretary Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Did you know? Organic farming leads to better soil quality and reduces soil erosion compared to its conventional counterparts.
With hope and some great work behind the screen, organic farming could soon be one of the most beneficial and most grounded areas in farming today. Not only the food you eat could be an organic and healthy produce but the farmers behind them as well could make a better living. We will keep you posted of any further updates on the mission.