Organic Agriculture

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Principle of organic farming is to allow Mother Nature to provide us food the way nature intended. The soil is of central importance. Organic farmers nourish the soil and its micro universe of life forms rather than force feeding the plants to grow unnaturally fast. Because animal welfare matters in organic farming, animals are treated with care and respect. There are no cages, animals move free, grazing on grass and other natural pastures. Organics is about producing healthy food and fibre without the use of synthetic agri-chemicals, while ensuring animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

Organic Approach

Organic agriculture is an environment friendly ecological production system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and biological activities. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and management practices that restore maintain and enhance ecological balance. Organic Agriculture is much more than simply chemical free. Producing Organic is a commitment to a system which ensures that healthy, nutritious food can be produced year after year without environmental degradation. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.

Organic in Practice

Organic food comes from organic farms utilizing the best of both traditional and modern techniques. Organic farming is a combination of techniques to build up soil fertility for sustainable production, mainly using local, natural resources and with least external inputs. Production and protection of crops mainly depend on indigenous wisdom combined with latest scientific techniques such as bio control and microbial fertilizers. In organic farming rather than using synthetic pesticides to kill pests, farmers prevent pests by planting a bio-diverse range of crops, by rotations, and using natural, biological and environment friendly sprays. This means no artificial pesticides, no herbicides, no hormones and no growth promoters or food irradiation. Organics also prohibits the use of GMO s - or genetic engineering. Organic Standards clearly define the allowed and prohibited production and processing methods.

Why to go Organic?
Organic farming aims at reducing the costs of production and helps the farmers to get reasonable returns. Organic farming is today s answer not only to sustained productivity, but also to safe and nutritious food, which is increasingly demanded by conscious consumers within and outside India. Organic products also promise better prospects for Market and Trade. There is an ever growing export market for organic products, and also the domestic market in India is emerging. Products that are certified and sold as organic can fetch a premium price compared with conventional products.

Why do people choose organic food?

  • Better taste - Organic food tastes better; this is the simple message given by many people who eat organic.
  • Healthier -Organic foods have far less residues of pesticides, growth promoters and antibiotics. It has been shown in a number of studies that organic food contains more vitamins, nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants than non- organic food.
  • Animal friendly - Organic farming places great emphasis on animal welfare and is more animal friendly, where animals are not treated with synthetic growth hormones or drugs.
  • GMO free - Genetically Modified Organisms are not allowed in organic agriculture.
  • Fair Play - By avoiding expensive inputs of agrochemicals, organic farmers can manage to reduce production costs and get out of the debt trap. Fair prices additionally can enable farmers to get reasonable returns for their efforts.
  • More sustainable - Organic production aims, at all times towards sustainability while having best management of the environment and wildlife as a priority. This implies a sustainable management of natural resources; soil water and bio diversity. Organic systems are less dependent on non-renewable resources.
  • Traditions meeting Science - Organic systems rely on a modern and scientific understanding of ecology and soil science, while also integrating traditional agricultural knowledge.

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF ORGANIC PRODUCTION AND MARKETS

Observing a farmer that uses no pesticides or fertilizers, one could easily assume that this is organic practice. To many observers, organic practices appear very simple on the surface. The common understanding that organic standards merely mandate the absence of synthetic agrochemicals is widespread and leads to the perception that most poor or remote farmers are organic by default —and some certainly are. However, while many such farmers may come close to the organic ideal of integrating their farming practices into the greater biological system and its cycles, there are nevertheless a number of clearly defined standards that their methods must meet if organic certification is a goal. Although these requirements are usually not onerous, they do necessitate a measure of preparation and attention for most farmers.
For farmers practicing more intensive cultivation methods these requirements also require radical changes that may be costly in terms of both time spent learning and initial crop yield response. Adjustments will be necessary in cultivation methods, the production and use of organic inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, and the use of labour.
The promise of higher prices is often the primary driver used to induce adoption of organic methods. It is often farmers who bear the shock of realizing that the market for their organic product may not be so easy to access or may not pay much of a premium. As many of the case studies point out, the organic requirements and the realities of those markets sometimes surprise farmers and development professionals alike, and lead to a first useful lesson: it can be devastating to unfairly raise expectations that any farmer can readily convert to organic and earn considerably more.
While organic adoption may require more than refraining from the use of synthetic agrochemicals, it also offers many other benefits beyond the simplistic chemical-free caricature. The more successful farmers appear to convert for several reasons that go beyond earning a higher price for their crops. While income considerations are predominant, there are at least five major reasons why farmers choose to adopt organic practices:

  • to earn more for their production
  • to reduce or eliminate the need for purchased inputs
  • to avoid potentially harmful agrochemicals
  • to reduce their risks through crop diversification and improved soil quality/stability
  • to maintain or improve valuable local natural resources and biodiversity