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Big role for India in organic food trade: Pawar

New Delhi, July 7 (IANS) India can play a significant role in global organic food trade, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said here Wednesday.

‘Organic agriculture in India has made good progress during last six years. With a combined effect of farmers’ efforts, NGOs’ work, government interventions and market forces, Indian organic agriculture has reached a stage where it can play a significant role not only in the growing domestic market but also in global organic food trade,’ the minister said.

Pawar, who also has the consumer affairs, food and public distribution departments, was addressing the parliamentary consultative committee attached to agriculture ministry.

‘In India, as against 42,000 hectares under certified organic farming during 2003-04, initial estimates for 2009-10 indicate that organic agriculture under certification has grown to 10.5 lakh hectares. Out of this, nearly 7.5 lakh hectares is fully certified while the remaining three lakh hectares are under various stages of conversion,’ the minister said.

The agriculture ministry is promoting organic farming in the country by implementing various schemes such as National Project on Organic Farming, the National Horticulture Mission, the Technology Mission for North East and the Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, Pawar said.

‘The ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) has initiated an All India Network Project on organic farming to ensure the development and promotion of scientifically proven methodologies in organic farming,’ the minister added.

He also described organic farming as an ideal option for rain-fed, marginal land and hilly areas.

‘Promotion of organic farming will not only ensure increased availability of organic and biological source of nutrients but will also provide technologies and information which help other forms of agriculture in restoring soil health and conservation of resources,’ Pawar said.

The minister also called for tapping the growing demand for organic food in domestic and international market for the benefit of farmers and the country.

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