The Basavaraj Bommai administration has cut the budget allocation for organic farming this financial year to Rs 20 crore, the lowest in eight years, angering supporters and practitioners of this sustainable farming model.
Last year, the government set aside Rs 50 crore for organic farming.
With the exception of 2020-2021, when the money allocated was around Rs 10 crore due to the pandemic, successive governments have allocated at least Rs 40 crore to develop organic farming in the state.
Final allocation less
Not only that, over the years, while successive governments have pledged large sums to develop organic agriculture, the final allocation is disappointing, lamented AS Anand, chairman of the empowered committee of the State Mission for Agriculture. ‘Organic Agriculture.
For example, in the 2021-22 budget, former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa announced a spending of Rs 500 crore on organic farming in his budget speech.
Eventually, the budget estimates only reflected Rs 50 crore for organic farming related schemes.
“Finally, the amount released was only Rs 33 crore and that too 15 days before the end of the financial year. What is this money for? Anand inquired.
He stated that he had made several approaches to the CM, requesting an increase in the budget allocation.
This decrease in budget allocation is pushing Karnataka on its back when it comes to adopting organic farming, said Jayaprasad, an organic farmer and chairman of the Regional Federation of Organic Farmers Cooperative Associations of Hassan and Kodagu .
Even though Karnataka was an early adopter of organic farming, today states like Assam and Sikkim are doing better.
Infra, marketing suffers
This is because the state has not followed with adequate funds, he said. Without funds for basic infrastructure or marketing, farmers resort to chemical farming, he pointed out.
“The government had sanctioned our federation Rs 50 lakh in 2016. This was released just two months ago. It’s apathy,” he lamented.
According to him, each of the 15 organic farmers federations in the state needs at least Rs 25 lakh of annual funds to get more farmers to grow and market their
“No dip, it’s diversification”
However, what may appear to be a decrease in allocation is actually a diversification of funds for various sustainable farming methods, according to Agriculture Commissioner Brijesh Kumar Dikshit.
The government is looking to expand beyond organic farming to other sustainable farming methods such as natural farming, agro-ecology, among others.
Focus on natural farming
“This year, the focus will be on natural farming. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t focus on organic farming,” the official said. DH.
Karnataka has about 1.7 lakh hectares of land certified as organic farming, or about 2% of the total cultivated land.
The current allocation of Rs 20 crore will be adequate if the government announces additional funding for natural farming or converges various programs in related departments such as horticulture, for example, said N Devakumar, Director of Extension, GKVK, Bengaluru.
Nevertheless, it is time for the government to focus beyond organic crop production and look at post-production and marketing, he added.