The use of synthetic chemicals for agriculture was halted completely in 2005 by the Union territory
Lakshadweep, after Sikkim, is on its way to become 100 per cent organic.
The Union territory’s agriculture department had submitted a proposal to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, seeking to declare its entire 32 square kilometre geographical land area as organic.
The proposal was approved October 26, 2020 after receiving required certifications and declarations under Centre’s Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (organic farming improvement programme). Om Prakash Mishra, the agriculture secretary, Lakshadweep, expressed his pleasure on social media over this.
Lakshadweep is physically cut off from the mainland; for the last 15 years, no chemical has been shipped into this territory, except medicines and some cosmetics. This has already made Lakshadweep 100 per cent organic by default, Mishra said.
Lakshadweep consists of 36 islands and is India’s smallest UT. It is a uni-district UT and comprises 12 atolls, three reefs, five submerged banks and 10 inhabited islands. All islands are 220-440 km away from Kochi.
In September 2020, Lakshadweep administration formally declared that its entire farming community was practicing organic agriculture and using organic inputs such as compost, poultry manure, green leaf manure. The UT was following organic or biological methods for plant protection as well.
Synthetic chemicals for agriculture were reduced in a phased manner and stopped completely by 2005, according to the declarations provided by the Lakshadweep administration.
The administration had not spent or earmarked any amount for procurement or distribution of synthetic chemicals in budget since 2005. Neither was any synthetic chemicals for agriculture practice transported from outside to Lakshadweep islands since that time.
An 100 per cent organic Lakshadweep will open new opportunities for women self-help groups. Photo: OP Mishra / Twitter
The UT administration had imposed a formal uniform ban on sale, use and entry of synthetic chemicals for agriculture purpose from October 2017 onwards to make the islands a chemical-free zone.
All farmers, agriculture units and other stakeholders were instructed to use only organic fertilisers, including locally available organic inputs and organic waste.
According to the requirement of organic certification, no genetically modified organism is allowed to be used in the entire territory.
Opportunities for women
The 100 per cent organic status of Lakshadweep would open new opportunities for women self-help groups. A major portion of the UT’s area is already certified as per the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) standards by an external organic certification body INDOCERT since 2011.
Through the certification, it is possible to get 150 women self-help groups to scale up their production of virgin coconut oil, tuna pickels, jaggery and other products for export, OP Mishra had tweeted.
Lakshadweep recently constituted an expert committee requested the Union agriculture ministry to get a certified organic status for the territory under the participatory guarantee system (PGS) of India through Centre’s Paramaparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana.
The communication from the agriculture ministry, uploaded by official twitter handle of Department of Fisheries, Union Territory of Lakshadweep, revealed that proposal for declaration of entire territory of Lakshadweep as organic has been approved.
The Union agriculture ministry has asked for further details to generate a village-wise certification under PGS-India programme. A formal announcement regarding this is likely to be made soon.
First published by Down to Earth on 13 Nov. 2020