BHUBANESHWAR: The Odisha government and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have decided to collaborate to promote organic farming in the state.

Executive director of UNEP, Erik Solheim met chief minister Naveen Patnaik at the state secretariat on Friday and discussed the scope of organic farming in Odisha.

There is a lot of scope for organic farming in Odisha for which the state government is interested in sustainable and climate resilient organic agriculture. Organic farming should be given importance in
rain-dependent and tribal areas of Odisha where there is no application of chemicals in agriculture, said Naveen Patnaik.

Stating that the UNEP is interested to take up programmes in social and economic fields and for environment protection in Odisha, Erik Solheim said there is scope for organic farming which can be successful with cooperation from the government.

A ten-member team from UNEP headed by Erik Solheim attended a high level meeting presided over by chief secretary AP Padhi where applying green technology to achieve sustainable development was discussed.

Generating solar energy, promoting organic farming and developing Odisha’s traditional agricultural potential were discussed.

Officials said millet organic farming has been introduced among 14,000 farmers in Odisha. The decision was taken to promote maize, which has a potential business worth of Rs1000 crore annually.

 AP Padhi said appropriate marketing mechanisms should be created to encourage farmers to take up production of maize, millets and other foodgrains. Padhi suggested that a joint committee be constituted
to identify specific areas for future collaboration between Odisha and UNEP.

The joint committee will be headed by development commissioner R Balakrishnan andl have Manoj Ahuja- principal secretary agriculture, and TK Pandey- principal secretary finance, as members.

UNEP will be represented by Satya S Tripathy, senior advisor, 2030-agenda for sustainable development.

The meeting also saw additional chief secretary, forest and environment Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, principal secretary in the steel and mines department Raj Kumar Sharma, secretary in the energy department Hemant Sharma, secretary in the rural development department Bishnupada Sethi etc.