ERJ staff report (TP)
Kochi, India − Organic farming of rubber is slowly gaining traction in Kerala state as an alternative to traditional methods using chemical fertilizers, said experts in this field. However, the spread of this method is unorganized as individuals, rather than farmer groups, are implementing it driven by the long-term merits of the switchover, reported Shenoy Karun for The Times of India.
"I know about 25 farmers who have opted organic farming," said Mathew Sebastian, executive director of Aluva-based Indocert, a certification body accredited to the National Programme for Organic Production.
According to the supporters of organic farming, there is a significant reduction in farming costs in addition to higher yield. Kurian Varghese Myladoor from Muttom in Idukki district [Kerala] said he had experienced up to 25 percent increase in productivity while costs came down to one third of traditional farming costs. "If you use the conventional style, annual farming costs would be Rs25,000-30,000 (€295-355) per acre (0.4 hectares), whereas it is only Rs10,000 (€118) in organic farming," said Myladoor who first tried organic cultivation in 2.5 acres (1.012 hectares) of land and later scaled it up to 20 acres (8.1 hectares).
Bobby Issac, director of the Indian operations of Germany-based certification body, Lacon, also has noticed this growing trend among rubber farmers. "There are a number of farmers with a proactive thinking and innovative ideas turning towards organic rubber farming," he said. However, a ready market for organic rubber-based products is absent in India, he noted. "Organic rubber-based products have good demand in the Europe, but this awareness is yet to catch up in India," he added.
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Full story from The Times of India