Indian State of Uttarakhand Introduces Country's First Organic Agriculture Act
The Governor of Uttarakhand has approved the Organic Agriculture Act (2019)
With this act, Uttarakhand has now become the first state in India to introduce an organic agriculture act. Although, let it be noted that the state of Sikkim has already achieved the rank of the country's first organic state.
Through the Organic Agriculture Act, the government has taken official steps toward turning the state fully organic. As it stands, 10 of the state's development areas currently operate organically.
Under the new act, NGOs, private entitites, and traders engaged in the export market and processing of organic products will be regulated. The sale of chemical fertilizers will also be regulated and the act allows for penalties for banned substances. Fines for which may reach up to one lakh.
The act will also help simplify the certification process, which will facilitate the organic certification of agricultural products. Moreover, the state 'organic Uttarakhand brand' will receive encouragement.
The Organic Community's Response
Kalyan Paul, Executive Director of the Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development Foundation, located in Uttarakhand, and IFOAM - Organics International Member notes:
"The Uttarakhand Organic Commodities Board was established more than a decade ago and initiated various steps in some ten Blocks or so. After all these years, no one seems to have been pleased with the performance and the organization does not have much of a presence. However, the government has recently enacted the Act mentioned and we are hopeful that over the next few years, small and marginal farmers in the state would benefit from the proclamation of this Act.
Much would depend upon the actual roll-out policies and it would certainly help if the government co-opted the voluntary/civil society sector in the planning as well as implementation of the Act. In this PGSOC could provide significant inputs and lessons of the past decade in promoting organic farming systems. Some portions of the Act ought to be reviewed as the movement would gain more from mentoring and guidance. We wish the Act brings much relief to the farming community in the state where almost 100 percent farmers, except for those in the foothills, are owners of one acre of farm land only."