Gardening the Bhutanese Way

Monday, August 31, 2015

Organic Agriculture-Final Recommendations for SAARC nations

I have the  final recommendations for adoption in the SAARC nations in our way forward for organic agriculture inscribed in the lines below. My 2 days experience of being a Rapporteur had me acquainted to assimilating and reflecting the points of discussion. However, this is not final as there is a span of a month allotted for it to undergo amendments or to include points if any before finally endorsing it for adoption.

Participants at Rochogpel Hotel Conference Hall.

1.  SAARC Organic standards and certification system should be developed in line with the existing policies and standards of SAARC nations. SAC, Dhaka should initiate a plan to implement this recommendation.

2.Each SAARC nation should develop a Model Organic Village using the proposed SAARC standards.

3.Each SAARC country should have a focal point expert through governing board member of the respective country for seamless information exchange on research & development related to organic agriculture including the technologies, packages of practices and farm-level success stories. An information exchange system should be developed by SAC, Dhaka to share the information received from the focal points.

4. Considering the contribution of organic agriculture to safe food, health of soil and people and environment, the organic growers/movement should be suitably supported with better incentives to enhance the percolation of Organic farming in member nations. While providing  incentives, the conversion period  should be taken care with appropriate policies if yield declines.

5. It is noted that the status of Organic agriculture in education, Research & Development in the member nations are in infancy stage. Hence, adequate allocation of human, financial and physical resources to Organic agricultural education in the form of degrees, basic and applied research infrastructure for research and development in all the countries is required.

6. Country specific model  should be prepared for safe and secure food. The model proposed by India having the components of scientific Organic Agriculture in default organic areas and towards organic approach having integrated management with non-pesticide use can be adopted. This will compliment the safe food production. SAC, Dhaka can synthesize the model for SAARC region.

7. Conversion period should be crop and area specific depending on the nature of the crop and land use history. This should be noted while making the sub-standards.
8. In the national agricultural census, there is a need to include information on the organic farming. The data should be shared with the member nations through SAC, Dhaka  for creating  better markets.

9. Inputs for organic farming should be generated through government-controlled mechanisms to ensure quality of inputs.

10. To capture high end domestic market in the region, potential OA zones should be identified and be named as special OA system zone. This zones can also be made as agro-ecotourism centre for attracting the nature-loving tourists. Tax holidays for private sector investor who will invest in the zone can be considered. This zone should be panned in such a way that all requirements of inputs, certification, processing and packing are met within the zone itself.

11. Strategy to lead at least one component of OA by SAARC nation should be developed. Each member states could lead Research & Development in specific components( Bio-pesticides, Bio-fertilizers, crop varieties, packing areas, etc.)

12. Inter-ministerial coordination among agriculture, health and environment is essential to promote organic agriculture.

13.Free flow of organic commodities among the member countries should be allowed under SAARC organic standard.

Research &Development:

14. Organic Agriculture is  constrained mainly due to lack of practical solutions to weed, pest and disease management practices in all the SAARC member countries. Hence there should be a network of research  among SAARC nations to address the issues at the cross country level. In the process, the indigenous  practices adopted by the farmers should also be documented and shared.

15. Cross-country capacity building program including training of Researchers, Extension functionaries, farmers and other relevant stakeholders among member nations should be developed and coordinated by SAARC.

16. SAARC regional level recognition for researchers, extension functionaries and farmers involved in organic farming by providing award and certificates.

17. Periodic/annual review of the progress over this recommendation will be made by SAC, Dhaka and disseminate to member nations.