Introduction to starting organic farming in Uttarakhand: The agriculture sector is one of the most important sectors of the economy of Uttarakhand. In traditional India, the entire agricultural industry was run using organic techniques, where fertilizers and pesticides were obtained from plant and animal products. Rice, Wheat, Sugarcane, Maize, Soybeans, Pulses, Oilseeds, and various fruits and vegetables are the major crops grown in the state. It has 4 agro-climatic zones covering 6 high-altitude farming methods that mean that the state has the potential to grow different crops. Consumer demand for safe and healthy food has increased due to growing concerns over food quality, pollution due to chemicals, serious health hazards, and environmental issues. This growing demand has given rise to a new wave of agriculture, known as organic farming.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, the country is divided into three categories. The states of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, and North Eastern have been placed in the first category. These are the states where the consumption of chemical fertilizers is less than other states. Thus, the government has decided to turn these states into organic agriculture states. Most of the hill farmers in Uttarakhand are deprived of resources and therefore use very few chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides. As a result, mountain soil is almost free of pesticide and chemical fertilizer residues. This is a very strong point for Uttarakhand to become a successful ‘organic state’.
A guide to how to start organic farming in Uttarakhand, process to get organic certification in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is a border state in the hilly northwestern part of India where agriculture is the main source of both subsistence and income. Part of the organic focus is often on the poor and marginal. Land under organic farming in various organic schemes is between 0.1 hectares to 5 hectares. In many cases, the first target is to adopt organic products among the poorest people and thus organic farmers have an area of land that is three to five times smaller than their convention neighbors. In mountainous areas, women play a vital role in agriculture. To a large extent, men plow the land, while women mostly do other tasks such as planting, weeding, fertilizing, and harvesting.
Scope of organic farming in Uttarakhand
In organic farming, Uttarakhand is one of the leading states in India. The state also has a large number of certified organic farmers who are supported by the promotion of organic farming as well as with the help of a well-developed organizational structure for marketing organic crop products. The total area under organic farming in Uttarakhand is 16158.86 hectares.
Currently, the scope of organic farming is best in Uttarakhand as farmers use traditional methods of farming, i.e., rain-fed agriculture, without the use of pesticides or fertilizers. Along with the common farmers, the government is constantly taking active steps to make the state fully organic and with it increase the level of production. For promoting organic farming, the Uttarakhand Organic Commodity Board (UOCB), the state’s nodal agency was set up to promote sustainable development through organic farming.
The following points further make it clear that the future of organic farming in Uttarakhand is very bright.
Uttarakhand has officially certified 23% of its total land for organic farming but the government is committed to increasing the certified percentage of land for organic farming in the state to 31% by the end of 2021. The Uttarakhand government has approved India’s first Organic Agriculture Act for considering the prospects and scope of farming. The Act states that if farmers use pesticides or any type of prohibited fertilizer for their crops, they are subject to fines. It is commendable that about 40% of organic farming in India is done in Uttarakhand and the state sees the future of becoming a ‘fully organic state’ in the next 5 years. The Government of Uttarakhand is fully prepared to promote the organic market with the help of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) which will be under the control of the government to make farmers aware of the importance of organic farming and increase their scale of production.
Uttarakhand Organic Commodity Board (UOCB)
Organic farming is a manifestation of the patronage of the traditional environment of the people of Uttarakhand. Eighty percent of farmers in Uttarakhand are engaged in pre-determined organic farming in rain-fed conditions. This process has been a source of food security for small and backward farmers in terms of safe, plentiful, and nutritious food. Due to its diverse topography, the state has immense potential to promote herbs and medicinal plants cultivation through organic farming. However, it is unusable due to a lack of serious effort. The UOCB has been set up to work towards promoting the potential of organic farming in Uttarakhand. This is important to find the status of UOCB in organic farming.
Functions of UOCB;
1. ‘Fill in the blanks’ service UOCB helps organic farmers and connects them to the market by developing production plans based on market response.
2. In organic farming, UOCB Internal Control System is used for compiles data generated by investigators and workers for the projection of next season’s commodity production. The availability of updated data on a single window helps the marketing cell to plan for the supply chain.
3. UOCB Resource Center provides up-to-date technical information for organic production. The technologies developed by the Board are communicated to the various stakeholders of the State.
4. Finally, the UOCB Resource Generator is important to generate organic development resources in the form of finance, human resources, and building patronage.
UOCB plays a major role in raising awareness among people about the benefits and importance of organic farming in Uttarakhand.
Recommendations / Suggestions in UOCB
1. There is an urgent need to develop a market for organic crops to increase organic farming profitability.
2. Inform the farmers about the benefits of organic farming as compared to conventional or modern farming through awareness programs conducted by governmental and non-governmental organizations.
3. Make sure, provide better technical support to control pests and diseases. Currently, their ability to control some insects, such as stem borers, is very limited.
4. Credit facility to farmers for access to bio-control agents through the board.
5. To provide funds to the Board for the promotion of organic farming methods.
6. Farmers’ awareness about the certification process must be increased along with increasing their ability to fill in the required documents etc.
7. Improve communication between boards, federations, and farmers. Farmers are most interested in market and price issues.
8. Improving the efficiency of transportation and procurement systems to reduce product losses due to these inefficiencies.
Information about organic farming in Uttarakhand
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- Uttarakhand government will soon introduce a law to legalize organic farming so that organic produce, which is in high demand in domestic and foreign markets, will be more profitable for local farmers.
- Proposed law on organic farming Will provides more profit to local farmers for their organic produce which is in high demand in the domestic and foreign markets.
- Higher profits for their organic fruits and crops will help to solve the many problems of forced migration from the hills.
- Under the proposed law, locally grown organic crops will be known as ‘Organic Uttarakhand’.
- The Uttarakhand government is implementing policies that can encourage organic methods. This includes research, extension services training, incentives and marketing, and promotion. The government’s commitment extends to rural youth training programs, and the concept of bio-villages has been adopted and implemented in many areas. Products manufactured under various measures are commodities. They are led by finger millet, kidney, and paddy but they also include Wheat, Maize, Ginger, Soybean, and many pulses.
Uttarakhand State Organic Certification Agency
The Government of Uttarakhand has commissioned the USOCA to certify the organic production and handling system in the country under national and international organic standards. The Uttarakhand State Organic Certification Agency (USOCA) is used to certify organic production systems. The USOCA administration is non-discriminatory based on race, national background, religious affiliation, sex, age, or marital status. All operators will be treated equally. No client’s candidacy can be rejected based on the above criteria.
The USOCA may issue national market certification based on national standards for organic production (which is considered equivalent to Council Regulation EC 834/2007 and the Swiss Organic Farming Ordinance for the production of unprocessed plant products grown in India) and USDA-NOP certification and certification system identification.
The organization is committed to improving the ecologically good food production and conservation of natural resources, soil quality, and health through organic and sustainable farming methods. The negative effects of agriculture based on artificial fertilizers and herbicides are noticeable in the decline of soil fertility, food quality, the taste of food, and so on. Organic farming can be a boon to counteract these adverse effects.
In large-scale organic farming, Sunethi Alampur, Qadarpur, Delana, and Kunja Bhadurpur villages will be model villages of the Bhagwanpur block as farmers in these villages are engaged. Similarly, according to USOCA data, 162 farmers are practicing organic farming in 11 villages of Narsran block. Out of which 55 farmers are producing organic paddy, 45 farmers are cultivating organic wheat and the remaining 62 farmers are producing organic Sugarcane and Chickpea. 75 farmers were a model of our project in which 25 farmers were producing organic paddy, 21 farmers were producing organic wheat and 29 farmers were producing organic sugarcane in Narsan block.
Quality Control and Product Certification – Certification is the process of verifying that products are organic and manufactured to specific standards. All the farmers claimed that they are well versed in the certification process and always report that UOCB officials visit their farms regularly and if any one of the selected farmers is using inorganic fertilizers or chemicals. If so, check and cross-check. Immediate action is taken in case of negligence. Usually, 1-2 visits are made for this purpose in each harvest season. No additional monitoring fee is charged from the farmers. About 8% of payments were made on selected forms, according to a visit by officials from the foreign agency Uttaranchal State Organic Certification Agency (USOCA). Field staff visits usually once or twice a year depending on the location of the field. The possibility of low numbers in remote areas cannot be ruled out. The farmer selected under the project must visit at least the paddy: at the time of sowing, at the peak of plant protection, and at the time of harvest.
Organic crops grown in Uttarakhand
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The Himalayan state of Uttarakhand produces a range of certified organic products that are exported globally. Some of the organic spices, herbs, and pulses are grown in Uttarakhand are listed below.
- Glycine soja (Soyabean)
- Maize Corn
- Pigeon Pea
- Kidney bean (Rajma)
- Pearl millet
- Jhangora Rice (barnyard millet)
- Mandua Atta
- Jakhiya Seeds
Process for starting organic farming in Uttarakhand
Know the organic farming basics – It is important to know the basics of organic farming are the first step to starting an organic farm. It gives you an idea of what to expect and where to start. It is helpful to invest in pre-hand research. It is also important to engage with people who are already in business. Participate in organic farm training programs and farmer meeting symposiums. The experience of another farmer going through a similar phase is very helpful in making the search process very smooth. The Internet plays a big role in organic farming.
It takes some careful planning to turn your idea into a reality. Before you go any further, you need to learn more about organic farming. First of all, it’s a good idea to talk to farmers who are already practicing organic farming, and you can learn all about the pros and cons. If you already have some experience, you can try to offer your services for a while to learn more about the differences. Getting to know another farmer who is already in the process of starting or switching to organic farming can be very helpful. Visit some hands-on training courses specifically designed for organic farming, and meet like-minded people. Learn more by reading books and the Internet.
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Site is key – The site plays a main role in the success of any project. The organic farm location determines how the project will turn out. It is more difficult to manage the irrigation process if the water source is far away. For a newcomer, but it’s also important for the success of the project.
The farm’s proximity to the market plays a major role in the sustainability of the farm. The farm’s proximity to the market allows easy transportation of produce for sale. It helps save on transporting materials cost to the farm. However, site selection should also be done with the purpose of the organic farm. If the form is not for commercial purposes, the role of these factors is to be diminished. The main purpose of the farm determines its size.
Connect the land with what it is best for – When deciding what can be grown in the soil, it is very important to consider the soil condition of the site as well as the available resources. A plant that is endemic to the landscape, temperature, altitude, and available resources is much easier to manage than growing an exotic plant for the area. However, there are practical ways to grow crops and animals that are not native to that particular area. Remember, though, that can be a little daunting for first-time organic farmers. There are also instances when the available land area is relatively insufficient for the wide range of crops that the farmer is planning to grow. There are many tried solutions for limited agricultural space like vertical gardening, container farming, and intercropping.
Know your market – It is important to know what kind of market the farmer is managing. Some agricultural products may not be marketable in any particular market. This reflection is very helpful in making this project sustainable. Find out what agricultural products the market needs, what the market is capable of buying, and how the market buys such products. It is also important to know how the farmer will sell the product in the market. Also, have a backup marketing plan.
Prepare the soil and make good compost – Organic farm production starts with good soil. Treating inorganic soils can potentially harm the environment and plants as well as consumers who eventually consume food. Good soil means soil with essential nutrients for plant growth and development. Good soil is a mixture of compost, leaves and grass clippings, and manure, among other important compounds.
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Farmers generally benefit when they make their fertilizer onsite. Fertilizer helps conserve water, cut weeds, and keep waste away. This step is more important when one starts organic farming.
Take care of the plants – Organic farming takes time and requires more attention. Organic farming does not necessarily work for all the plants on the farm. Regular watering is essential for plant growth. It is very important that watering the plant in the morning is very useful as it is cool in the morning. Because the water does not evaporate rapidly. Wedding is another important maintenance task. Herbs grow in good soil and these undesirable plants get nutrients for crops.
Because you can’t use traditional herbicides, you have to work harder with nature and often use other methods to remove or prevent weeds from occupying your crops. Examples are;
- Frequent crop rotation
- Extending a thick crop stand
- Choose the best crop types for your land
- Using cover crops
- Planting only clean seeds
- Keeping the soil healthy and balanced pH level
- Maintaining good soil texture. Planting the soil well in spring
- Delay planting until late May, early June
- Tilling the ground a few days after sowing the seeds for crops.
- Use special tools after weeding to remove weeds and these weed removing tools are weeders, cutaway discs, spinners, rotary hoes, shields, flamers, etc.
- Regularly remove the weeds by hand and prevent the weeds from reaching the seed.
- Mulching, which can also help control weeds. The use of organic herbicides such as vinegar is another area of pest control that needs to be handled differently with organic crops.
- Prevention requires biodiversity and habitat support to keep the soil healthy and beneficial organisms living and thriving.
Harvest crops right time – One of the many benefits of organic farming is the high reward value of the product. Harvesting at the right time is essential to get the best results, and the best times to harvest will vary depending on the type of crop you have.
Find a mentor and network with people – This does not seem to be directly related to what we are discussing, but experienced organic farmers think it is very important. There are some instances when farmers get lost in the pursuit of organic farming, and they do not know what to do next. Books and online tutorials can help in unexpected situations. It is also important to network with people who can help sell farm products. They also link organic farmers to the right markets.
Status of organic farming in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is the 27th state of India located in the northern part of the country. Uttarakhand is known for its beauty and is also known as “Devbhoomi” for its shrines, temples, and places of worship and meditation. The plain region of the state known as Tarai Bhabar consists of parts of Haridwar, Udham Singh Nagar, and Nainital and Dehradun districts. This hilly region covers parts of Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Almora, Bageshwar, Uttarkashi, Tehri, Puri, Champawat, Pithoragarh, and Dehradun, and Nainital districts. The entire state is a hilly area except for Adham Singh Nagar, Haridwar, Dehradun, Puri, and Nainital districts.
Administratively, it consists of two divisions, Kamaun and Garhwal, comprising thirteen districts. Uttarakhand is in Zones 9 and 14 of the National Agricultural Climate Zone. With its favorable climatic conditions and traditional farming methods, the mountainous state of Uttarakhand is often by default organic. Organic farming is wildly considered to be not only a path to potential development by the state but also a solution for many people. State economic and environmental problems Uttarakhand’s cropping pattern reflects altitude, climate, and soil variations. Despite the dilapidated and uneven terrain of the region, the enormous environmental problems have not been able to suppress human effort and energy. On the other hand, they have developed a high level of adaptability and extraordinary physical strength to deal with the unwelcome hospitality of the environment.
The future of organic farming in Uttarakhand
Organic farming in Uttarakhand has a long-term future as it has numerous benefits for both producers and consumers. With greater awareness of consumer health and sustainable development, the state of Uttarakhand is rapidly advancing towards achieving a fully organic status. Farmers in Uttarakhand, with the help of the government, are constantly looking for opportunities for organic farming. The government is shifting certain districts to organic standards where farmers will only be allowed to grow organic crops and farmers are also welcoming the decision. UOBC is working to simplify the certification process for organic farming or crops in the state. As a popular tourist destination, Uttarakhand is at the forefront of promoting its organic products through word of mouth.
Get the certificate of organic agricultural products in Uttarakhand
- For agricultural production, a person (farmer/farmer group/processor/trader) who is looking for a certificate of organic farming should ensure that his form is from the National Organic Production Program (NPOP) complies with established standards in organic crop production.
- According to the National Program for Organic Production (NPOP), they submit the application in the required format along with the fee.
- Some general standards for organic crop production have been provided by the Uttarakhand State Organic Certification Agency (USOCA) and they are available on the USOCA website link.
- The application form is available. The application should provide all the information requested by Uttarakhand State Organic Certification Agency (USOCA) such as name, address, contact person details, field location, group details complete, signed, and in the office. Should come back Registration in TraceNet.
- The operator is registered on TraceNet after that submits the system plan for organic certification.
- Upon receipt of payment, the date of inspection is fixed and a copy of the form record and a copy of the NPOP standard is sent along with the inspection notification letter.
- The inspection will be done on the day it is finalized and then a signed copy will be provided to the contract operator.
- The inspection report copy will be handed over to the operator at the inspection time. And, a detailed inspection report is submitted to the evaluator.
- A detailed list of crops for the individual operator and a deadline for corrective actions has been entered into the TraceNet.
- After that, the evaluator operator reviews the file and then submits it to the Certification Committee. Though, the Certification Committee makes the final decision based on the corrective action taken by the operator against the inconsistency in the inspection report.
- The operator has to send an application to the office which will be forwarded to the operator under the NSOP after the approval of the Certification Committee to use the Certification Agency logo or India Organic logo. The draft labels must be sent to the certification agency’s office for verification and then approval before printing.
Validity – A valid organic certificate is valid for one year only, it has to be renewed every year.
Eligibility – The product needs to be authenticated for 2 to 3 years to get the qualification certification. The soil meets some basic requirements of being free from the use of prohibited substances for many years. A conventional farm should adhere to organic standards for this period.
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