Is organic the past or the future of Kerala?plantrich
Thinking of going organic— the youth of Kerala has now started to shift to living healthy and going organic. Choosing a lifestyle based on a certain diet seems to be the new growing trend among the youth and this choice speaks as the telling story of a person’s perspective and character to others. Contradicting the general stigma of IT professionals addicted to consuming junk food over healthy foods has now changed dramatically. Even though US is the godfather of all things junk and carefree living, Pennsylvania—a state in the US is recorded to be the second-highest organic products sales in the world by USA Agricultural department.
We love imitating the western countries largely and consequently ‘go green’, ‘live healthy’ has penetrated the life of the common crowd too. When Sikkim was announced as the first organic state in India, Kerala too pledged an oath to go green and organic followed by the state government’s project of ‘Green Kerala’. India has the highest number of organic farmers globally; however, most of them are struggling due to poor policy measures, rising input costs, and a limited market. The organic product market in India has been growing at a CAGR of 25 percent and it is expected to touch ₹10,000-₹12,000 crore by 2020 from the current market size of ₹ 4,000 crores, according to a report produced jointly by Assocham and Ernst & Young. Nevertheless, this rise is just a small percent of the global organic market pie. Even in this scenario, organic Kerala was growing and numbers of organic farmers were increasing.
The recent floods, which ravaged the state, have adversely affected our organic farmers in Wayanad and Idukki. Did you know that it takes approximately around 3-4 years to prepare the land for organic farming? Our organic farmers in Idukki who contributed 4% to the current organic market size proved the misconception that organic land would produce less wrong. However, this contribution would decrease in the next upcoming years due to the Kerala floods 2018, which washed away not only the homes, livestock, and belongings of the organic farmers but also the productive soil.
‘The soil will definitely yield if we do not choke it with pesticides and artificial fertilizers, but now the soil has lost all its minerals, the floods have left the soil barren’, says an organic farmer from Idukki who has been affected by the recent Kerala floods 2018.
The preparation time of the soil and the amount invested for the same is high which will leave these farmers to survive on an empty stomach for the next few years. Our farmers were getting a good price for their commodities when the crops were sold in the Fairtrade market. The current scenario has washed away 12000 hectares of crops of more than 2000 organic farmers in Idukki district alone. This accounts for a 30-40% less yield in the next few years.
Unless these farmers are revived with a fresh hope of life and inputs for survival, Kerala floods would also mark the death of organic Kerala. The gestation periods of the perennial crops are 3-4 years, so it will take a minimum of 4-5 years for an agricultural rehabilitation. Hence, the losses calculated are for the next 4 years. This is a huge period and if our organic farmers were not supported, Kerala would see the death rates rising with a high ratio of suicides along with the end of ‘green Kerala’.
Should we leave Organic Green Kerala as a page in history or should we revive it for our future generation? Should we let our organic farmers who provided the best vegetables and best organic food produce on our tables to perish as an aftermath of Kerala floods 2018?