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India: Agro-biodiversity benefits from organic production

The preservation of indigenous crop strains, a strong political will and a movement towards organic farming were the subjects for a discussion on agro biodiversity that took place at the Vasundhara International Film Festival this week.

A group of seven farmers from various parts of the country exhibited organically produced produce as examples of organic farming's contribution to agro bio-diversity.

Seedbank promotion has taken off successfully in Karnataka, said Bangalore-based Krishna Prasad, who has set up the state's first organic producers' company.

"Karnataka is the first Indian state that brought out an organic farming policy and also allocated Rs 250 crore for organic farming. We have an organic village programme, now in its third phase, where it is implemented in every district through a network of NGOs," said Prasad, who works with a network of 30 farmer groups across the state.

Satish Awate from Pune-based Centre for Environment Education, said, "We are gradually going the organic way and people are realising the nutritional value of what they eat. Indigenous species of crops that comprise a rich dietary heritage need to be preserved."

Deepika Kundaji, who focuses on conserving rare and endangered vegetable varieties in Auroville, Pondicherry, said, "We have 90 different varieties of vegetables that are being shared with gardeners and farmers all over India. National seedbanks make no sense because these are ex situ conservation attempts.

Sabarmati, who works with a network of farmers in Orissa's Nayagadh district, faces the challenge of promoting the indigenous crop varieties in her area. "People have to gain back faith that indigenous varieties also do perform well.

The rising production cost of farming led a group of farmers in 15 villages of Sangamner district to resort to the organic way. "Six years ago we began to acquire private plots for growing produce organically. We've realised this project can be branded and packaged properly for mass consumption," said a farmer from Sangamner.

Publication date: 2/24/2012


 


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