Northeast demands government umbrella policy to subsidize ecological fertilization in agriculture

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Guwahati, Sep.3 (ANI): Government officials, civil society representatives, academicians and farmer representatives from north eastern states today urged the Central Government to create an umbrella policy to subsidize and support ecological fertilization in agriculture.

The consensus demand came out of the Northeast conference deliberations organized by Rashtriya Gramin Vikas Nidhi (RGVN) and Greenpeace India as part of the nationwide "Living Soils" campaign.

In her message to conference participants, Assam's Agriculture Minister Pramila Rani Brahma said: "Indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers has an adverse impact on the life of the soil. Further it leads to its deterioration. Organic biomass in large quantities' is required to support life in soil and to maintain its structure and texture. Hence generation and application of biomass is critical to ensure soil health."

"Bringing all the schemes and policies that support ecological fertilization under one umbrella and raising the support for all components of ecological fertilization will not only help to save the soil but also will contribute to the livelihood security of the farmers," she added.

"A proper research backed scientific approach to promote ecological fertilization supplemented by policy support and incentives by the Central Government and respective State Governments will go a long way in preserving soil health which is crucial in achieving food security without compromise on health and environment. Putting in place an umbrella policy encompassing all aspects of ecological fertilization and soil health will enable us achieve this important objective," said Dr Mukul Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya in his message which was read out at the conference.

"Sikkim has adopted a policy to go completely organic by 2015 and we have already phased out the usage of chemical fertilizers. Improved package of practices are being developed. A support system for ecological fertilization will help the farmers of Sikkim in a big way and will help to ensure food security in the state," said S K Sinha, Principal Director of Agriculture, Government of Sikkim.

Dr Purkaysta, Joint Director-Agriculture, Arunachal Pradesh, said: "More than 81 percent of Arunachal Pradesh is organic by default. A support system for ecological fertilization will contribute to the food security of the state."

The conference and the demand assumes significance in the context of Central Government acknowledging the problems associated with intensive chemical fertilization and initiating a reform in its fertilizer subsidy policy.

Dr Amiya Sharma, Executive Director, RGVN, who presided over the inaugural session said," We cannot continue to tax the environment for satisfying our greed. Protection of soil is important for maintaining life on this earth."

The conference signed a charter of demands to the Central Government, the summary of which is as follows:

1. The indiscriminate usage of chemical fertilizers needs to be checked at the earliest through proper policy measures at the Central and State Government level.

. Central Government should create an umbrella policy to support all components of ecological fertilization which includes: eneration of biomass, for bulk addition of organic matter in the soil for maintaining proper soil health: This includes promotion of livestock as integral part of the farm, providing infrastructure facilities to farmers for proper collection and usage of livestock manure. Sole cropping/intercropping/bund cropping of green manure crops, planting of Green manure trees etc.

Promotion of nutrient intensive ecological fertilizers (such as composts) romotion of biofertilizers

Recycling of farm and house hold waste.

Crop rotations to enrich soil (eg: to include pulses and leguminous crops)

Eco bonus for maintaining soil health

3. Documentation, Research and promotion of indigenous traditional knowledge to maintain soil health.

4. Promotion of eco-friendly soil amelioration techniques.

5. Convergence of policies in the rural sector: Ecological fertilizer production can open up employment opportunities in rural areas and hence can find synergy with Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarentee Scheme. (ANI)

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