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40k hectares to be organic certified land

SHILLONG/JOWAI/TURA: The Agriculture Department is converting about 40,000 hectares into organic certified land and the process is already in its second or third year in some areas.
P Sampath Kumar, Commissioner and Secretary of the Agriculture Department, said the use of chemical fertiliser had degraded the soil quality and this has prompted the government to push for organic farming since 2014.
Kumar was speaking on the occasion of World Soil Day under the theme ‘Caring for the planet starts from the ground’ at District and Local Research and Laboratories on Tuesday.
“This is an important direction, the shift that the state has taken and from 2014, the state government has been continuously promoting organic way of cultivation,” he said.
The department has introduced the 18-day compost for the first time in the state and farmers will be trained in producing compost by themselves, said the official but added that one challenge is procuring inputs.
“We have 2 lakh hectares of cultivable areas where we need to go organic. We are actually going for 40,000 hectares as part of our plan. We will make policies in such a way that we will be able to cover the entire state,” Sampath said at the function organised by the research officer of East Khasi Hills.
Toll-free number
To establish a direct connection between farmers and buyers, Sampath said, “1917 is a toll-free number which is going to be functional soon. We got the number from the Ministry of Telecommunications. We are building the call centre-Agri-Response Call Centre which will come up soon,” he added.
A part of the call centre, there is also the logistic system where people will be provided vehicles to take their produce to the market where farmers can call Uber or Ola.
Sampath said he has visited all blocks to learn what the farmers are doing and an immense learning experience for him to see the hardwork put in by farmers which he described as “strength of the state.” Soil Health Cards were distributed to farmers by him.
Erratic weather
NESFAS along with Laitsohpliah, Laitthemlangsah and Laitumïong communities marked the day at Laitsohpliah.
Villagers raised the concern over erratic weather conditions like heavy rain and fog which make organic farming a difficult option.
Resource person Dr. A K Nongkynrih, HOD Department of Sociology NEHU highlighted the fact that the villages around Sohra region experience heavy rainfall, therefore there is a high amount of soil erosion. Hence it is important for the communities to preserve the soil.
Programmes and discussions were organised several places, including Jowai and Tura.
Addressing a gathering at the function of the East and West Jaintia Hills district agriculture and horticulture offices, joint director of agriculture R Langstieh said, “Every existence on earth depends on soil and without soil we cannot survive, therefore we need to thank the soil for all that it provides and we need to protect it.”
JHADC chief Andrew A Shullai attended the programme as chief guest.
In Tura, senior agriculture scientist and head in-charge of Indian Council of Agricultural Research Tura, A.S. Singh, emphasised the significance of Soil Health Card which farmers need to follow to preserve soil health.
Altogether 136 farmers from different villages in Garo Hills took part in the annual World Soil Day celebration at the DLRSL research centre in Sangsanggre, Tura on Tuesday, organised by Indian Council of Agriculture Research in collaboration with the state agriculture department.

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