The Government’s decision to consider an MSP for organic crops seems to have evoked a mixed response from some leading organic farmers in the state.
Speaking to inmathi.com, Dr M J Narasimhan a leading organic farmer and doctor for last several decades in Kanchipuram district says, “The report says government is mulling MSP for organic produce. So they are yet to decide. Till now no concrete plan has ever been in effect in the state regarding organic produce. I have been growing traditional paddy varieties and selling them through my personal contacts and through Organic Farmers network group. The local government mandis care a hoot for organic and even if I take my produce there, I am paid the same price as that of conventional ones,” he says.
Anantoo, Coordinator, Safe Food Alliance and a person who is credited with creating the Organic Farmers Market in the state where different outlets have been opened in several parts of the city to purchase organic products directly from farmers, welcomes the fact that the government is talking on organic and MSP. But I do not know how the proposed 20% plus MSP can be applicable for all farmers in the entire country. Input costs differs from farmer to farmer and from region to region. Nevertheless it is a welcome call now, since never in the past such a talk on giving impetus to organic was ever done by any government.
A senior official from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, who does not wished to be named says, “Compared to north-eastern, northern and some southern states like Kerala, in Tamil Nadu organic farming has been done only by interested farmers. It was their own decision and they sold the products through personal contacts and networks. Other than this, the Tamil Nadu government has done nothing big in boosting organic farmers’ momentum. The percentage of farmers in the state is quite high today with many young people joining the organic bandwagon both as producers and consumers. But marketing has largely been left to the farmers themselves.”
D Bharani, a well known organic farmer in Mayiladuthurai, has this to say: “It is a welcome move if the government implements it. But they should also ensure that organic farmers get the same facilities like subsidies that conventional farmers enjoy. But I am not able to understand how they arrived on 20 percent more MSP?”
“My land , my labour etc is different from those who are doing organic farming in Vandavasi or Tiruvarur. The land cost, labour costs are different. So how can MSP be the same for everybody? he asks.
“If the government is keen on this then the first thing they should do is simplify the organic certification system. As of now, organic is largely based on personal contact. We know a farmer is doing organic and we take his word. If government steps in then it would be different. They will insist on certification. Even now there are some farmers who pay a huge amount to get organic certification from certain NGOs who have the power to issue organic certification to them. My thinking is the government should simplify the procedure. Say they can give a organic certificate for a three-year period along with a ID card so that we can show it at the mandis or any other place the government is setting up for purchasing our products.”
“And we do not know how the government has planned to help us in buying our produce? Their idea is still not clear. My guess is they might include this through their local community mandis. We need to see how this works. As of now nothing is clear,” emphasises Dr Narasimhan.
Many organic farmers whom inmathi spoke to welcomed the idea and all voiced one opinion in common, which is that the increase should be more than the 20%. The general feeling among them is a blanket MSP will not be favourable or helpful to them. But for a state which has long neglected organic farming this new rule, if comes into effect, may bring out a subtle change, though not a dramatic one in the state.
We tried to get in touch with the state agriculture minister for his reaction. We were informed the minister is busy and will get back. Till this article went to print the minister’s office has not responded.