The Uttarakhand government has a target to certify 31% of the total agricultural land as organic in 2021 to expand the area under organic farming, said state agriculture minister Subodh Uniyal on Tuesday in Dehradun.
He informed about the same while addressing a gathering at the seminar on State Focus Paper 2021-22 by the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) with a theme of collectivisation of agricultural produce for enhancing farmers’ income.
“At present, the total area certified for organic farming is about 23 per cent, which would be increased to 31 per cent by the end of 2021. This is a significant move because today, 40 per cent of the country’s total organic farming is being done in Uttarakhand which is also the first state in the country to have an act on organic farming,” said Uniyal.
Enabling SHGs to sell their products directly to tourists
On the steps taken by the government to improve agriculture, especially in the hilly areas of the state, he said, “The agriculture department is working on mechanisms to enable the self-help groups (SHG)s to sell their products directly to the tourists and to develop zone-based farming”.
“There are about 6,000 SHGs working in the state producing various products. We are working to develop a system in which they would be able to sell their products directly to a large number of tourists visiting the state every year without the involvement of middlemen,” said Uniyal.
“We are also working to develop zone-based farming under which an area growing the same crop would be termed as a zone which would help in selling and marketing the produce in a much better way,” he said.
Some people giving communal colour to farmers protest
During the event, the agriculture minister also spoke on the ongoing farmers protest and said that “some people are giving a communal colour to it.”
“It is very unfortunate that some people are giving communal colour to the protest of farmers. Religion and politics should always be kept separate. But some people for their vested interests are doing so which should be stopped,” said Uniyal, adding that “The farm laws are beneficial for the farmers and the Centre is ready to talk to the protesting farmers.”
Some irregularities in giving farm loans in banks
Uniyal, later while speaking on giving credit to the farmers under various initiatives of NABARD, raised the issue of “irregularities in banks while giving loans to farmers.”
“It has come to our notice that there have been some incidents in which the bank staffers provided farm loan to landless people just for their own vested interests. While on the other hand, the deserving farmers had to move pillar to post for a loan. This should be looked into with strict action against those involved from the banks,” said Uniyal.
Per capita income rises to ₹20,2895
Earlier during the event, regional chief general manager, NABARD Gyanendra Mani, while informing about the economic indicators in the institution’s State Focus Paper, said that the per capita income of the state is “slated to increase from Rs 1,91,450 (2018-19) to Rs 2,02,895 (2019-20) with Haridwar district having the highest per capita income and Rudraprayag district having the lowest.”
He also informed that the total credit projection for Uttarakhand in NABARD has increased to Rs 27160.16 crore for 2021-22 from Rs 24656.53 crore in 2020-22.