Organic spice cultivation should find priority in the 12th Plan programmes, according to a report which is to be submitted to the Government of India.

Addressing a meeting of the state holders of organic spice industry at Myladumpara in Idukki district of Kerala, Dr A Jayathilak, Chairman of Spices Board, promised all support to organic farmers to gain experience through exposure visits to farms of elite cultivators in various states.

Dr Jayathilak promised to establish an organic input and output testing laboratory at the Indian Cardamom Research Institute in Myladumpara, during the first year of the 12{+t}{+h} Plan which is slated to commence from next year onwards. With the world sourcing natural products and increasingly moving away from fertiliser-pesticide based commercial agriculture, the demand for organic spices has been growing.

And more importantly, consumers from the US , Europe and Japan are increasingly willing to pay a substantially higher price for such products, spice cultivators said. To facilitate increased export of organic spices from the country, spices producer companies will be formed and the Spices Board would also set up e-Research cum Demonstration plot for organic farming of cardamom.

In order to suggest modalities for promoting organic production and marketing of cardamom, a committee consisting of organic growers, organic groups, scientists and development officers has been constituted. This committee is expected to examine the present constraints before organic farming and suggest various measures to promote organic cultivation and marketing of organic spices.

Dr Jayathilak inaugurated the personal accident insurance scheme initiated by the Spices Board and Union Ministry of Commerce under the Price Stabilisation Fund Trust scheme targeted to benefit cardamom-growers and workers. He gave away insurance policy certificates to the beneficiaries.

To achieve ideal results in organic cultivation, the farmer should start practising simplicity in his lifestyle and farming practices, Dr Narayana Reddy from Bangalore and Mr Sundarama Iyer from Sathyamangalam said. Rev Fr. Sabu John of Peermade Development Society, Mr N M Kurian of High Range Organic Producers Society and Mr P C Joseph highlighted the problems of the existing players in the organic field. The importance of cattle rearing as a facilitator for organic farming and the maximum use of cow dung and urine in cultivation was also stressed upon.

Dr Jayathilak also met the representatives of the cardamom-growers' associations, traders and auctioneers and promised to take action on implementing several programmes to sustain cardamom prices, which have witnessed serious erosion in recent times.

(This article was published on July 29, 2011)
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