After turning Sikkim into a fully organic state, India is now looking at a cluster approach to increase the area under chemical free farming in other states. Many states have already started earmarking exclusive organic farming zones, with Maharashtra leading the pack.
Maharashtra has 932 exclusive clusters which are followed by Madhya Pradesh (880), Rajasthan (755), Uttar Pradesh (575), Uttarakhand (550) and Karnataka (545).
The Centre's overall plan is to develop 10,000 clusters (one cluster of 20 hectares each) across the country exclusively for promoting organic farming to cater to growing domestic demand and the high export potential of such crops.
The aim is to increase the cultivated area through organic farming from nearly eight lakh hectares at present to 10 lakh hectares by 2017-18. The states have, so far, identified over 7,500 clusters for the same purpose.
Under this plan, 50 or more farmers can form a cluster for which every farmer will be provided Rs 20,000 per acre in three years for seed. The cluster would also include harvesting of crops and transporting produce to the market under the `Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana' (traditional agriculture development plan) of the agriculture ministry.
The government has allocated Rs 297 crore under the scheme for 2016-17. Besides, an additional amount has been allocated for creating organic value chain for northeastern states.