Organic farming yet to bear fruits in isles

Report by: 
ZEENATH BIBI
Port Blair
19 Jan 2019

Despite concerted efforts by the UT administration to promote organic farming system of food production in the islands, majority of farmers are yet to adopt organic farming. Factors such shrinking agriculture land and consumption of agriculture land for commercial and tourism use are set to be the sticking points.
Speaking to EOI, the Director of Agriculture said that the Agriculture Department has been making concerted efforts for promoting organic cultivation to bring changes in the conventional agriculture. The effort towards organic has been a gradual process since many years. During 2003, the soil conservation-cum-demonstration farm at Sippighat was declared organic and renamed as ‘Organic Horticulture Farm’.
The department of agriculture is working with the objective of reducing the usage of chemical fertilizer in a phased manner through promotion of organic farming. Assistance is provided to the farmers on production of organic /vermi compost unit under various departmental schemes. Under RKVY project. 'Promotion of Organic Farming’ 1930 nos. of vermi compost units(with the capacity to produce 6 MT of composed annually) established & 2024 nos. Vermi beds distributed. 40 vermi hatcheries established at different locations throughout the islands for regular supply of earthworms. 20 nos Vermi-compost units established in the departmental farms for multiplication of the earthworms.
Most of the cultivated areas in Andaman and Nicobar Islands are under traditional agriculture i.e. natural farming .The average consumption of inorganic fertilizer in A&N islands is very less as compared to other states in mainland. Major part is consumed in case of vegetable cultivation in Neil, Havelock and Diglipur Islands. Promotion of organic vegetable cultivation in Neil Island was launched on 1st February 2015 in mission mode to attain sustainability in agriculture production and provide a premium price to the farmers by facilitating marketing linkage.
In Nicobar, traditional natural farming system is practiced since centuries. The basic component of organic farming (i.e. not using the chemical input)is followed unknowingly in some of the Islands, which has attracted these islands towards the organic movement. Nicobar District except Campbell Bay, by default is practicing natural farming. We must take advantage of this opportunity by arranging certification for better market avenues for these products in the domestic and international markets which will raise the living standards of our small and marginal farmers.  
The Administration is focusing on bringing complete organic agriculture in all the Islands in a phased manner. To encourage the farmers towards organic agriculture, subsidy on organic manure & bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides increased to 50% respectively. Implementation of Central Scheme on Paramparagat  Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY) is another step towards promotion of Organic farming in the islands
The whole of A&N Islands can be converted into organic only after certain things are to be put in place. These are to restrict the usage of chemical fertilizer and chemical pesticides, to supplement the nutrient requirement with organic materials (Organic fertilizers, organic manure, bio-fertilizers) and bio pesticides adequately either by import or local production in farmers fields, PSG certification and branding of produce for better price and marketing facility and linkage to domestic and international market and incentive to farmers in the initial year of conversion (2-3 Years) to compensate the yield loss.