The Gujarat government has decided to set up an agriculture university under the organic farming policy of the state. The location of the proposed university has not been finalised so far.
According to officials, Rs 10 crore has been sanctioned for 2016-17 for setting up the farm university, the idea for which is said to be conceived by CM Anandiben Patel. This would be the sixth farm university in the state after Anand, Navsari, Dantiwada, Junagadh and Kamdhenu universities. Kamdhenu varsity is currently operating from Krishi Bhawan in Gandhinagar and it focuses on research on cows and other cattle. Agriculture principal secretary A M Solanki said, “At present, everything is at the initial stage.’’ The move has been welcomed by NGO Jatan and other groups working to promote sustainable organic farming in the state.
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Asked about the need for an agriculture university especially for organic farming when four agriculture varsities in the state have organic farming department, Junagadh Agriculture University vice-chancellor A R Pathak said: “A separate university will focus exclusively on organic farming and research on what kind of crops can be grown in a particular area depending on the type of soil and the local climate.”
The university, according to agriculture department officials, could also focus on research to provide high-yielding seed varieties for organic farming.
According to the officials, Gujarat is suited for organic farming as a significant per cent of agriculture in the state is rainfed unlike in riparian states. In fact,organic farming is gaining ground in the country with Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Karnataka coming up with their own organic farming policies, they said.
Under its organic farming policy, the Gujarat government plans to increase the organic farming area by 10 times in five years.
Currently, the area under organic farming in the state is around 4,500 hectare.