On a recent visit to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in Meghalaya, our group was told that Northeast India is organic by default. This means most small farms have never used pesticides or fertilizers. Farmers are still using traditional methods of farming. Old fashioned farming has become a strength. In other words because Northeast India has been so far behind the times, farmers still use old fashioned farming methods. They now have a big advantage because this naturally ascribes the land as the best organic farming region.
The advantages of Northeast India for organic agriculture are listed in a report titled Opportunities for Organic Agriculture in North Eastern Hill Region by Aditya Kumar Singh and Lala I.P. Ray.
- North Eastern Region (NER) is home to some niche crops like Assam Lemon, Joha Rice, Medicinal Rice and Passion fruit which has high market demands.
- NER accounts for 45 percent of total pineapple production in India and an Agri-Export Zone (AEZ) is already set up in Tripura.
- Sikkim is the largest producer of large cardamom (54 percent share) in the world.
- NER is the fourth largest producer of oranges in India.
- Best quality ginger (low fiber content) is produced in this region and an Agri-Export Zone (AEZ) for ginger is established in Sikkim.
- Extent of chemical consumption in farming is far less than the national average.
- Approximately 18 lakhs ha (hectare) of land in NER can be classified as “Organic by Default”.
- Thin population density per square kilometer (13-340 compared to 324 at national level).
- Dependence of mid and high altitude farmers on within farm renewable resources.
- Time tested indigenous farming systems and use of indigenous technical knowledge in agriculture.
This region of India can become known for organic foods.
Organic farming practices have a great deal to offer in the formation of organic matter in soils. It is also capable of storing significant amounts of carbon in the soil which is an effective way of combatting climate change.
We should follow the traditional organic farming methods to maintain the purity of our farms. The Northeast India is blessed with natural resources. We receive enough rainfall even during winters. We need to go back to our indigeniousl farming system, where we get fresh air, clean water and more nutritious food for consumption” said Dr. S.V. Ngachan, Director ICAR NEH in a farmers exhibition at Bhoirymbong
A 2014 study about Northeast India provides this final insight:
“To improve the socio-economic condition of the poverty-ridden rural masses of the North Eastern states, integrated organic farming is the suitable answer. (Sustainable Agriculture in the Northeastern States of India -A New Vision by Asian Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies).”