27th september 2016, SLI. An interview with Subhasini Sridhar, Programme Director, Centre for Indian Knowledge System, Sirkazhi, Nagapattinam district.
Tell us about your work and current priorities at CIKS...
What is the current status of organic farming in Tamil Nadu?
At present people are more aware about organic farming and there seems to be increase in adoption of organic farming methods by the farmers. Many farmers are now aware about the hazards of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and they want to switch over to organic farming. The only constraint is the marketing of the organic products. There is lack of availability of platforms to market the products and the market is full of products which are adulterated- ‘the so called organic products’, but it contains pesticides residuals. In order to promote organic farming in Tamil Nadu it’s marketing needs to be taken care of.
You mentioned that there are many so called organic products which are not really organic, how do we differentiate between the adulterated organic products with the real products?
Many of the farmers by default practice organic farming and some have switched to organic farming but in spite of that, they do use small amount of chemical fertilizers and pesticides though they are selling it as organic products. So in the market there is a competition between the genuine organic as well as the so called organic products. The onus shifts to the consumers, who need to figure out what is the real organic product. For that consumers need to be aware of the details about the products they are consuming.
Towards this end, we are educating the consumers on how to identify the products as organic, we are also making effort to establish link between the consumers and the farmers, so that the consumers are aware about the producers and the technique adopted by them.
According to you what is the role of youth in Organic farming?
As far as youth are concerned their role is very important but at present there is increase in migration of rural youth to the urban and semi-urban cities which is very alarming. Presently, mostly people above 40 are engaged in agriculture and the youth are more or less uninterested. But in some pockets we can see that the youth are leaving their corporate jobs and coming back to farming but unfortunately most of the youth are switching off to other occupation.
How do you plan to tackle this issue?
Our centre in collaboration with organisations such as Sustainable Livelihoods Institute wants to retain the village youth in agriculture. Therefore, our major focus for the next two years is to encourage the youth in organic farming by giving them capacity building training focusing on enterprise formation and better agriculture with profitable income.