The Centre's overall plan is to develop 10,000 clusters (one cluster of 20 hectares each) across the country exclusively for promoting organic farming to cater to growing domestic demand and the high export potential of such crops. The aim is to increase the cultivated area under organic farming from nearly eight lakh hectares at present to 10 lakh hectares by 2017-18.
The states have, so far, identified over 7,500 clusters for this purpose. Under this plan, 50 or more farmers can form a cluster. Every farmer will be provided Rs 20,000 per acre in three years for seed, harvesting of crops and transporting pro duce to the market under the `Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana' (traditional agriculture development plan) of the agriculture ministry.
The government has allocated Rs 297 crore under the scheme for 2016-17. Besides, an additional amount has been allocated for creating organic value chain for northeastern states.
"The method is expected to increase domestic production and certification of organic produce. Since organic products are grown without the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, it is important to adopt this approach by involving farmers at grassroot level", said an agriculture ministry official.
During 2013-14, while Sikkim had gone fully organic, according to the agriculture ministry, Madhya Pradesh had over 2.32 lakh hectare of cultivable land under organic farming, the largest, followed by Maharashtra (85,536 hectare) and Rajasthan (66,020 hectare).
According to Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority of the commerce ministry, India had, during 2015-16, produced around 1.35 million metric tonnes of certified organic products, which includes all varieties of food products, namely sugarcane, oilseeds, cereals & millet, cotton, pulses, medicinal plants, tea, fruits, spices, dry fruits, vegetables and coffee.
The total volume of export during 2015-16 was 2,63,687 metric tonnes. The organic food export realization was around $298 million during the financial year.
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