Organic farming is an eco-friendly farming system that follows the principle of health in relation to soil, the environment, animals, and human beings. The products under organic farming are nutritious, safe, and free from chemical residues. On the other hand, chemical-based farming adversely affects soil, animal and human health, and the ecosystem. Soil fertility can be improved and sustained through organic farming. The production rate will be uniform will be in uniform for a long period because of good soil health.
Thus it will help the farmers to double their Production following a suitable cropping system. Organic products, if certified, will have good demand in the market with premium prices over the common commodities, giving an additional return to the producer farmers. Generally, a three-year transition period is required to get certified in organic farming so that the production system becomes free from chemical residues. Two types of certification systems are followed in organic farming –
- Participatory Guarantee System (PGS)
- Third-Party Certification system.
Because of less or no application of fertilizers and chemicals in the production process, in comparison to the other progressive states, most of the areas of Assam are considered organic by default. These areas may be easily converted to organic cultivation to produce different horticultural crops. Conversely, in the commercial production pockets, it becomes difficult to change the mindset of grower farmers to adopt complete organic procedures.
In a cluster area where organic crop production is followed, because of the nonuse of any chemicals, the whole area becomes free of chemicals, and the milk, meat, fish, etc., food commodities produced in the cluster becomes organic. Presently there are three organic schemes of the central sector being implemented in the state
- Paramparagat Krishi Vikash Yojana (PKVY)
- Rashtriya Krishi Vikash Yojana – Organic (RKVY – Organic)
- Mission Organic Value Chain Development in North Eastern Region (MOVCD-NER)
Assam organic farming
Major crops in Assam
The economy of Assam is fundamentally based on agriculture. Approximately 70 percent of the state’s population is employed in agriculture as farmers, agricultural laborers, or both. In addition to food crops, Assam produces cash crops as well. In the state, rice (paddy), maize (corn), pulses, potatoes, wheat, and tobacco are the principal food crops, while tea, jute, oilseeds, sugarcane, cotton, and tobacco are the principal cash crops.
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The productivity of rice, Assam’s most important staple crop, hasn’t increased over the years, while other crops have grown in both productivity and land area. There was a similar increase in jute, sugarcane, potato, rape, and mustard. Assam’s most important cash crop is tea, for which the state is world-renowned. 229,000 hectares of land were under tea cultivation (gardens) in 1989, employing an average of 500,000 people daily.
A significant portion of Assam’s population is also dependent on secondary and tertiary tea industries. Sugarcane is another important crop grown in Assam. It also has a lot of potential for the future, thanks to the tremendous rise of the industry over the last decade. This crop is particularly popular in Karbi Anglong, Nagaon, and Dima Hasao.
|Areas growing in Assam
|Cachar, Hailakhandi, Karimganj, Goalpara, Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Kamrup
|Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Udalguri, Sonitpur, Nagaon and Karbi Anglong
|Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh and Sibsagar.
|Tinsukia, Udalguri, Sonitpur, Dhing and Kampur
|Barpeta, Goalpara, Nagaon and Darrang
|Karbi-Anglong, Nagaon, Dima Hasao, Sonitpur and Golaghat
|Goalpara, Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Kamrup
Organic vegetable farming in Assam
Various Central and State government schemes are being carried out to increase the production and productivity of high-value commercial fruits, vegetables, spices, and floral crops by the Horticulture & FP Department of Assam. Furthermore, the department is emphasizing the production and availability of quality planting materials for commercial horticultural crops; higher production with better quality becomes possible, for which establishment of nurseries is encouraged under HMNEH, and accreditation is advocated.
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Assam has emerged as one of the country’s dominant vegetable producers. Dalgaon–Sialmari block of Darrang district contributes significantly to vegetable farming and occupies a place of respect in the Assam state’s economy. The region grows diverse vegetables like potato, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, pumpkin, brinjal, carrot, green leaves, and many more from Rabi and Kharif seasons.
Ghansimuli- Balugaon vegetable market of Kharupetia is one of the outstanding market centers of north-east India with prodigious potential for exporting vegetables. After the local needs are fulfilled, the vegetable is exposed for business purposes. A bulk amount of vegetables are exported through different market centers like Balugaon, Tangni, Bechimari, Koupati, etc.
Exported products go to different places, including Guwahati, Nalbari, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, Silchar, etc., and out of the state Itanagar, Agartala, Dimapur, Mizoram, Tripura, Kohima, etc. In addition, a small number of vegetables are exported to Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. Subsequently, the urban center, including Kharupetia, Mangaldai, Guwahati, Nagaon, Dalgaon, etc., essential import0 commodities needed for vegetable farming.
Organic fruit farming in Assam
Because of the increased demand for organic farm produces, farmers must be equipped with ideas and technologies for the adoption and certification of organic farming to get additional economic benefit from their produce. Therefore, the department encourages the organic Production of Horticultural and field crops through MOVCD and HMNEH schemes.
Several horticultural crops are grown in Assam, including fruits, vegetables, spices, potatoes, ornamental, medicinal, and aromatic plants, plantation crops, cashew, and betel vine. Among the major fruit crops of the state are bananas, pineapples, papayas, Assam lemons, oranges, guavas, litchis, jackfruits, and mangoes.
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Despite its high potential, the Central Government prioritized horticulture as a priority sector due to its low production and productivity of horticulture crops. The introduction of a centrally sponsored scheme under the horticulture mission by the Government of India and Rashtriya Krishi Vikash Yojana (RKVY) has shown remarkable progress in both area, production, and productivity of horticulture crops, as well as the income of small and marginal farmers.
|Areas growing in Assam
|Goalpara, Darrang, Kamrup, Lakhimpur, Nagaon, and Sivasagar
|Karbi Anglong, NC Hills, and Cachar
|Goalpara, Kamrup, Lakhimpur, and Nagaon
|Dibrugarh, Golaghat, Cachar, Chirang, Nalbari and Dima Hasao.
|Tinsukia, Kamrup and Golaghat
|Golaghat, Cachar, Chirang, Nalbari and Dima Hasao.
|Sonitpur, Goalpara, Darrang, Kamrup, and Lakhimpur
|North Cachar Hills and Karbi Angling (East Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong)
Organic herbs farming in Assam
With its vast hills and forests, Assam is the home of various medicinal herbs and plants. About 300 medicinal herbs and plants are known to exist in abundance in the state. However, an approximate calculation states that only about 5- 10% of the plants and herbs are commercially cultivated for extraction purposes and hence present a huge resource.
Established by the Centre in November 2002, the National Medicinal Plants Board coordinates all matters relating to medicinal plants and supports policies and programs for trade, export, conservation, and cultivation. In this three-year project, medicinal plants will be planted on 2,000 hectares in Kamrup, Nagaon, Chirang, Dibrugarh, and Cachar.
Members of the joint forest management committees will execute the project. Moreover, the project will be implemented by joint forest management committees under forest development agencies spread throughout the state. Agar, Amla, Pippali, Ashoka, and Sarpagandha are some medicinal plants that will be grown as part of the project.
Organic millet farming in Assam
The Assam state government launched Assam Millet Mission, targeted to raising the nutrition quotient & doubling farmers’ income. To increase productivity, it will also contribute to crop diversification. The state government has inaugurated six soil testing and quality control laboratories at Bongaigaon, Morigaon, Udalguri, Golaghat, Karimganj, and Darrang and two knowledge centers at Dhemaji and Titabor.
As the farmers in the state are less familiar with millet farming, the government inaugurated knowledge centers to benefit the farmers. In the coming days, 96 more knowledge centers will be set up across the state under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) for a quantum leap in agriculture production.
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Various nutrient-rich millets are grown in Assam, including finger millet, foxtail millet, and sorghum. Among all Assam districts, Chirang district registered the highest millet productivity of 1,500kg per hectare, followed by Dhubri (1,422kg per hectare) and Baksa (1,042kg per hectare). Based on crop area and productivity, the top 15 districts in Assam, including lower, central, upper, and hill districts, produce around 97% of the state’s millet.
Organic livestock farming in Assam
Livestock and poultry, as a source of milk, meat, egg, manure, draught, and transportation, form an integral part of the rural farming system in Assam. The livestock and poultry sector has an immense contribution to the rural household economy, employment, food, and nutritional security. The contribution of the livestock sector to GSDP is estimated at 7.7%, only second to crop agriculture.
Assam contributes 3.25% and 8.36% to the country’s total livestock and poultry population. Assam has the country’s largest pig population, accounting for 17.96% of the country’s total pig population. The livestock population in the state is large in numbers, but its productivity is very low compared to other parts of the country.
A mega mission, Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojana (CMSGUY), was launched during 2016-17 to develop the state’s rural areas and double the farm income in Assam. Under this initiative, the animal husbandry and veterinary directorate will undertake the Assam milk, meat, and egg mission. AMMEMS-CMSGUY, also known as Assam Milk, Meat & Egg Mission Society, will supervise the meat and egg society for the chief minister’s Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojana.
To popularise poultry farming, emphasis has been given in back yard poultry farming and rearing of a special type of birds like Banaraja and Giriraja other than locally available birds, which are regarded as zero input birds with high Production of eggs(180 eggs per annum against 78-80 eggs by locally available birds).
Govt. owned Pig Farms have been strengthened with financial assistance under World Bank and Integrated Piggery Development Programme (100% Central Assistance) to produce quality piglets and to distribute the same to the farmers/breeders to upgrade the local variety for meat production.
The department also established” Pig Villages” to create an organized network for more meat production and gainful employment. Currently, 460 SHGs are supported for the production of pigs, and a farm is expanded to accommodate 100 sows for piglet production to cater to the state’s needs.
Organic aquaculture farming in Assam
In the northeastern region of India, the province of Assam has a superb subtropical climate for expanding and improving freshwater fish culture. In addition to providing sustenance, fish farming plays a significant role in the state’s economy. Therefore, the state implies an amazing opportunity to improve the provincial economy by improving small-scale fish farming.
Creating awareness and improving the skill sets of the fish farmers and their farming practices is crucial so that later on, they can extend their activities with money made available locally. For the farmers in Assam, fish farming using technology is new, and if they are provided with proper training and access to new techniques and money, fish farming will surely be a blessing.
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Various water resources are available in Assam, covering more than 2.86 lakh hectares. The different types of water resources are ponds, rivers, tanks, beels, etc. There are also two major river systems in the state, the Brahmaputra and Barak. Over 90 percent of people in Assam eat fish, and the fish market is rising. The fisheries sector is a major force behind the state’s socioeconomic development.
Fish varieties such as Catla, Rohu, Mrigal, Silver carp, Grass carp, Common carp, Kurhi, Mali, and Java Puthi are widely cultivated in the state. Fish production and related activities can create many employment opportunities, especially for rural Assam. In Assam, there are more than 200 freshwater species, and the state produces approximately 3.07 lakh MT of fish annually. Morigaon, Nagaon, and Kamrup districts are well known for fish farming in the state.
How to get an organic certificate in Assam
The National Programme governs organic farming certification in India for Organic Production (NPOP) under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry. The National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) provides organic production standards, accreditation criteria, and procedures for certification bodies, as well as rules and regulations governing the use of the National (India Organic) Logo.
In addition, standards and procedures regulating organic imports and exports have been formulated following other international standards. Therefore, farms that have obtained Organic Farming Certification should adhere to the norms specified by the National Programme for Organic Production.
- For a farm to be granted an organic farming certificate, the farmer (or group of farmers/processors/traders) must comply with the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) standards.
- The National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) requires applicants to submit an application in the requisite format with a fee and complete field verification.
- The Assam Seed & Organic Certification Agency (ASOCA) has provided the general standards for organic crop production, which are available on the ASOCA website.
- On the ASOCA website, you can download the application form under the registration forms section.
- All the information requested by the Assam Seed & Organic Certification Agency (ASOCA) in the application must be provided, such as the name, addresses, details of the contact person, field location, and group details, must be completed, signed, and returned to the office for registration.
- After the application is scrutinized by the evaluator and accepted, the offer letter (approximate fees for the inspection and certification) and a copy of the agreement will be sent to the operator by the evaluator. In cases where the client cannot be accepted for certification due to technical reasons, the same will be informed to the concerned.
- The operator is registered on tracenet.
- The requested person should pay the prescribed registration fee, field inspection fee, one-time travel cost, and the application form.
- On receipt of the payment, fix the inspection date in consultation with the operator and send the inspection intimation letter along with a copy of the farm records and NPOP standard.
- The inspection shall be conducted on the day finalized, and the signed mutual agreement will be provided to the operator. A copy of the inspection report will be handed over to the operator during the inspection. The detailed inspection report is submitted to the evaluator.
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- For individual operators, the detailed crop list along with the major and minor non-conformities and the corrective actions deadline are entered into the tracenet.
- For group farmers, The certification body verifies the data entered in the tracenet by the group and enters the major and minor nonconformities along with the deadline for corrective actions.
- After receipt of the full payment, the evaluator reviews the operator file and submits the same to the Certification committee. The Certification committee takes a final decision based on the corrective measures taken by the operator against the nonconformities raised in the inspection report
- The quality manager will generate the certificate through the tracenet and send the same to the operator.
- For the use of the certification agency logo/ India Organic Logo, the operator must send a request for the same to the office, which will be sent to the operator after approval by the Certification committee will be sent to the operator as per the NSOP. In addition, the draft of labels must be sent to the certification agency office for verification and approval before printing.
To qualify for certification for the first time, the soil must meet the basic requirements of being free from prohibited substances (synthetic chemicals, etc.) for several years. In addition, the organic standards must be adhered to by a conventional farm during this period. The organic certificate remains valid until one year after the date stipulated on the certificate. For your certification status to remain valid, you must apply for an annual renewal yearly.
Organic farming will cover 20,000 hectares in 15 districts and 150 clusters in Assam in the next four years. The federal and state governments have also taken several measures to promote agriculture and its allied industries. In addition, several innovations are also taking place in the agri-horticulture sector. For example, the Assam Millets Mission was launched in 2022 for seven years, from 2022 to 2028. It is expected that around 50,000 hectares will be cultivated throughout the mission.
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