September 19, 2023

Kerala Department of Agriculture rejects planning council proposal neglecting natural farming – The New Indian Express

Express press service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Department of Agriculture and the State Planning Board seem to be heading for a direct confrontation. The ministry has disavowed the council’s draft policy document which proposes to improve crop productivity but denies some practices, such as natural farming, followed by the government.

Even though Kerala has promoted organic farming and is striving to become a carbon neutral state, the approach paper advocates, albeit indirectly, the need to use more chemical fertilizers. The Department of Agriculture’s stance against the policy document may open up a major debate about natural farming and the planning board’s reluctance to promote the same.

The 14th Five-Year Plan 2022-27 document, while proposing a transformation of crop productivity, downplays major aspects like environment, climate and agriculture, and remains silent on organic farming.

Curiously, he even calls farming without chemicals an irrational practice. “Irrational agricultural practices – at one extreme, advocacy of chemical-free agriculture, and at the other, complacency in the misuse and excessive use of chemicals – should be discouraged by the development of a system of modern and responsive agricultural extension,” states the draft approach document.

It has been reliably learned that there are differences even within the planning council on the approach document. Furthermore, it has also drawn serious criticism from within the government, with Agriculture Minister P Prasad rejecting the document. The minister made it clear that the state government strongly disagreed with the approach put forward by the planning council regarding organic and natural farming.

“We have implemented and promoted various centralized programs that facilitate organic farming in the state. Particular emphasis is placed on carbon neutral agriculture. The Department of Agriculture has no plans to implement the approach document in its current form,” Prasad said. The new Indian Express.

Environmentalist Sridhar Radhakrishnan pointed out that many practices followed by Kerala are not addressed in the document.

“Silent document on solving the problems of climate refugees”

“There is no mention of organic farming, which currently holds the largest share of funds from the Union government. Unlike the situation in Sri Lanka, where organic farming was introduced outright. sudden, resulting in major chaos, here it is done in a step-by-step manner,” Sridhar said.

“The approach paper appears to be biased because it fails to take into account the state’s evolving perspective on climate and agricultural practices like organic farming. It totally negates the agricultural practices and climate initiatives followed by the government. Although the state has advocated for a carbon neutral goal, there is no mention of the same. In short, it’s an approach paper with no ‘approach,'” Sridhar joked.

He also said the newspaper was completely silent on how to rehabilitate climate refugees. “The state witnessed major calamities like floods, Ockhi and Covid during the 13th five-year plan from 2016 to 2021. The majority of those affected are yet to be properly rehabilitated. The document should have prioritized the issue of climate refugees,” he said.

Prof R Ramakumar, head of agriculture at the State Planning Council, said the council had promoted organic farming and there was no reason to specifically mention it in the document.

“Furthermore, the natural farming followed in the central systems has not been scientifically validated either by the Indian Council of Scientific Research (ICSR) under the Union Government or by the Agricultural University under the Union Government. state. Many ICSR reports have dismissed zero-budget natural farming as a rational alternative,” he said.

Ramakumar said organic farming and natural farming are two different concepts. The approach document talks about practices such as natural farming, which are presented as other alternatives to organic farming, he said.

“Alarming drop in fertilizer use”

“Contrary to the opinion that there is excessive use of fertilizers in the state, the consumption of N, P and K fertilizers in Kerala was only 36.4 kg per hectare, the lowest among The consumption of N, P and K fertilizers in Kerala has decreased alarmingly over the past decade, from 106 kg per ha in 2010-11 to 36.4 kg per ha in 2018-19” , indicates the draft document.

“No plan to implement the paper in its current form”

Agriculture Minister P Prasad has made it clear that the state government strongly disagrees with the planning council’s proposed approach to organic and natural farming. “The Department of Agriculture has no plans to implement the guidance document in its current form,” the minister said.