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Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh Started Using Cluster Approach for Organic Farming

India is now looking at a "cluster" approach to increase the area under chemical free farming in other states, after turning Sikkim into a fully organic state. Maharashtra already started earmarking exclusive organic farming zones, it leading the pack, with 932 exclusive clusters, followed by Madhya Pradesh (880), Rajasthan (755), Uttar Pradesh (575), Uttarakhand (550) and Karnataka (545).

For promoting organic farming to cater to growing domestic demand and the high export potential of such crops, the Centre's overall plan is to develop 10,000 clusters, in which 1 cluster is of 20 hectares each, across the country exclusively. The aim of this planning is to increase the cultivated area under organic farming from nearly eight lakh hectares at present to 10 lakh hectares by 2017-18.

A cluster is formed by 50 or more farmers. For seed, harvesting of crops and transporting produce to the market under the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana' (traditional agriculture development plan) of the agriculture ministry, every farmer will be provided Rs 20,000 per acre in three years.

The government has allocated Rs 297 crore under the scheme for 2016-17 and an additional amount has been allocated for creating organic value chain for northeastern states.

According to the agriculture ministry, during 2013-14, while Sikkim had gone fully organic. Now Madhya Pradesh had over 2.32 lakh hectare of cultivable land under organic farming, the largest, followed by Maharashtra (85,536 hectare) and Rajasthan (66,020 hectare).

During 2015-16, India had produced around 1.35 million metric tonnes of certified organic products, which includes all varieties of food products, namely sugarcane, oilseeds, cereals & millet, cotton, pulses, medicinal plants, tea, fruits, spices, dry fruits, vegetables and coffee.