Help Me Produce & Feed Organic Food @JPNadda @RadhamohanBJP @fssaiindia #LetOrganicGrow
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I want to provide you with safe, pesticide-free food…..
So why is the government burdening me?
I am Selvam Ramaswamy, a farmer with 13 acres of land in Erode,Tamil Nadu. I grow paddy, groundnut, sesame, coconut and mango. My father used to use chemicals in our farm. So I have seen up close the kind of harmful effect that pesticides and chemical fertilisers have on land, the environment and you – the final consumer. That is why I resolved to keep my farm organic from the time I took up farming. For over 18 years, not a single drop of pesticide has touched my farm. I am happy with organic farming, because the cost is very low, we get to eat healthy food and this approach is more profitable. Above all and most importantly, I have been able to feed you poison-free food. My conscience is clear.
But now things are changing. And it is not for the better. Neither for you, the consumer nor me, the farmer. From 1st July 2018, organic farmers like me will not be able to sell our produce under the label “organic” unless we get it certified under a new regulation system.
This is a problem for all of us. Here’s why.
Under the new regulation brought in by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the food safety regulator, the certification process is expensive. I cannot afford to pay Rs. 15000/- to Rs. 20000/- to an external certification agency. Nor can other poor farmers. If I do so, I will have no choice but to pass on the cost to you, the consumer. Making organic food more expensive for consumers pains me deeply.
Certification is also tedious.
Under an alternate system called "Participatory Guarantee System" (PGS), organic farmers are required to work in groups of at least 5, to monitor each other's farms, which is not always possible both in terms of presence of other farmers around me and time.
It is also time-consuming and time-specific. Any farmer who applies for organic certification today, will have to wait for a minimum of 3 years for the mandatory “conversion period” to pass before s/he can sell her/his produce as organic and recover her/his costs.
What I also find unfair is no such regulations are being imposed on farmers who use pesticides and other chemicals. Compared to us, they do not have to spend one additional paisa to show consumers or the government that they are also complying with regulations of the FSSAI, even as they continue to blatantly use deadly chemicals.
The onus of responsibility of providing a quality assurance to organic consumers, on behalf of organic farmers should be that of the government. I strongly feel that this regulation should not have been notified without the government first putting into place a certification process in a free, simple, time-bound accountable manner.
If the government does not withdraw the FSSAI notification, I will be forced to sell my high quality, safe, organic food in the regular supply chain which also has chemical-laden food. I will lose upto Rs. 30000/- per season - not a small sum for an Indian farmer. More importantly, I feel sad that the safe food that I have produced will not be accessible to consumers like you.
Here is what I have to say to the policy makers and regulators on this subject: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ENOqXc2sWyMPDRgRcTA4Z52-lKZXlv_hg1mizdQScHs/edit?usp=sharing
Sign my petition asking the government to withdraw this notification and put into place new, fair and equitable regulatory mechanisms that will be a win-win for both organic farmers as well as consumers.
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