“What is happening in the fields will come to your plate and we as consumers need to be conscious about what we consume,” said Dr Ramanjaneyulu GV, executive director, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad.
A pioneer in organic farming, who has motivated farmers against the use of pesticides in 17 states, Dr Ramanjaneyulu delivered a talk on ‘Poison in Food’ at the Chandigarh Press Club on Wednesday.
Dr Ramanjaneyulu, as part of the talk, reflected on varied aspects of organic farming, stressing the urgent need for Punjab to turn to natural and organic farming, need for policy change and enhancement in research and regulations and most importantly, government support to support organic farming and farmers, which it has completely failed to do until now. “Systematic shift is the answer and it must be done as soon as possible. In Punjab, the use of pesticides, chemicals and insecticides is one of the highest in the country, accounting for almost 12 per cent of the total in the country. There is a high use of groundwater and the soil is becoming sterile for there is a lack of crop rotation, with wheat and paddy the only main crops being grown,’’ said Dr Ramanjaneyulu, who also works with farmers in Punjab.
Giving the example of Andhra Pradesh, where as many as 36 lakh acres of land was cultivated without pesticides, and alternative methods were used for pest control, Dr Ramanjaneyulu said the result was heartening, as it increased production, cleaned the soil and water, and generated more revenue for farmers. “By 2027, we hope all farmers here will go pesticide-free and we have launched initiatives to promote organic farming in 13 states, organising training workshops and there is a lot Punjab can learn and replicate, according to its own conditions. Another urgent need of the hour is to stop stubble burning, which has been causing havoc since 2000. We need smaller and effective machines to cut this stubble, an economically viable way for the farmer,” added Dr Ramanjaneyulu.
Dr Ramanjaneyulu said, “Farmers need the support of the government and us, and need to improvise and become entrepreneurs. There has to be institutional support to train farmers. We have helplines for farmers and also training facilities in Andhra Pradesh to encourage farmers. Each state has its own solution and we can take examples. But the shift should begin and an integrated approach be taken,” Dr Ramanjaneyulu said.