|Demand of the question Introduction. What is organic farming? Body. Discuss the need of encouraging the use of organic farming in India Conclusion. Way forward.|
As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic farming is a system which largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) and relies upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, organic waste, and biological system of nutrient mobilization. Organic farming system in India is not new and is being followed from ancient times. It promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. Currently India ranks 33rd in terms of total land under organic cultivation and 88th in terms of the ratio of agricultural land under organic crops to total farming area.
Need of encouraging the use of organic farming in India:
- Unsustainable conventional agriculture: The ill effects of the conventional farming system are felt in India in terms of the unsustainability of agricultural production, environmental degradation, health and sanitation problems, etc. Organic agriculture is needed as an alternative method to the modern system.
- Agricultural productivity: The national productivity of many of the cereal crops, millets, oilseeds, pulses and horticultural crops continues to be one of the lowest in the world in spite of the green revolution. The fertilizer and pesticide consumption has increased manifold but this trend has not been reflected in the crop productivity to that extent. Organic farming has the potential of increased productivity in the long term due to better soil conditions and ecosystems.
- Rising population: With the increase in population there is need to increase agriculture production further in sustainable manner. The scientists have realized that the ‘Green Revolution’ with high input use has reached its peak and is now diminishing returns. Thus, a sustainable organic alternative is needed.
- Employment Opportunities: According to many studies, organic farming requires more labour input than the conventional farming system. India which has a very large amount of labour unemployment and underemployment can generate agricultural jobs through organic farming in rural areas. In India the organic food market is approximately of Rs. 5.6 billion and is an emerging opportunity for generation of employment and income at village level.
- Healthy food: Several indirect benefits from organic farming are available to both the farmers and consumers. While the consumers get healthy foods with better taste and nutritive values, the farmers are indirectly benefited from healthy soils and farm production environment.
- Eco-tourism: Eco-tourism is increasingly becoming popular and organic farms have turned into such favourite spots in many countries like Italy. Organic farming adds to the beauty of the fields and provides protection to the ecosystem, flora, fauna with increased biodiversity and the resulting benefits to all human and living beings.
Challenges to organic farming in India:
- Lack of Awareness: The most important constraint in the progress of organic farming is the lack of awareness among farmers about the organic farming and its potential benefits.
- Marketing Problems: It is found that before the beginning of the cultivation of organic crops, their marketability and that too at a premium over the conventional produce has to be assured. Inability to obtain a premium price, at least during the period required to achieve the productivity levels of the conventional crop lead to a setback.
- Shortage of Biomass: Many experts and well informed farmers are not sure whether all the nutrients with the required quantities can be made available by the organic materials. Even if this problem is resolved, they are of the view that the available organic matter is not simply enough to meet the requirements.
- Inadequate Supporting Infrastructure: In spite of the adoption of the National Programme for Organic Production, the state governments are yet to formulate policies and a credible mechanism to implement them. There are only four agencies for accreditation and their expertise is limited to fruits and vegetables, tea, coffee and spices. The certifying agencies are inadequate.
- High Input Costs: The small and marginal farmers in India have been practicing organic farming in the form of the traditional farming system. They use local or own farm renewable resources and carry on the agricultural practices in an ecologically friendly environment. However, now the costs of the organic inputs are higher than those of industrially produced chemical fertilizers and pesticides including other inputs used in the conventional farming system.
- Financial support: Substantial financial support by governments is absolutely necessary to promote organic farming. In India, organic farmers do not receive the benefits of government subsidies as they are targeted at conventional cultivation. Given the low risk bearing capacity, there is a need to make organic farming an attractive proposition. A programme for organic agriculture must be fully supported by the full compensation both in cash and kind to the farmers in the event of the loss of production.
- Market development: Market development for the organic products is a crucial factor to promote domestic sales. Supplies do not match the demand for organic products in the country and the absence of proper links between the two has been pointed out for the tardy growth of organic farming in the country. An important role of the government in this direction is giving various support to the producer and consumer associations to market the products.
- Awareness: A vigorous campaign to highlight the benefits of organic farming against the conventional system is essential to increase the awareness of the farmers and consumers.
- Crop identification: Identification of crops for cultivation on the organic farms is important. For example, soyabean in Madhya Pradesh and cotton in the rainfed areas has great potential.
Unsustainable agricultural practices has proved to be harmful for land, soil and farmers in general. A switch to organic farming can not only help to achieve sustainable agricultural production but would help farmers with rise in income and production. An emphasis should be given to organic farming. Sikkim is being such a state to recognise it early and becoming a 100% organic state. Other states should work for the same.