Organic farming is a form of agriculture, which avoids the use of synthetic inputs such as synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified organisms, plant growth regulators and livestock feed additives.
As for as possible organic farmers rely on crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures, and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity, supply plant nutrients and to control weeds, insects and other pests.
In other words the role of organic agriculture whether in farming, processing, and distribution is to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings. The British Botanist Sir, Albert Howard is often called "the father of modern organic agriculture". He was one of the first to point out advantages of organic farming over modern techniques in his book, "An Agriculture Testament".
Organic farming methods combine scientific knowledge and modern technology with traditional farming practices based on thousands of years of agriculture. Organic farming relies heavily on the natural break down of organic matter, using techniques like green manure and composting, to maintain nutrients taken from the soil by the previous crops.
Organic farming uses a variety of methods to improve soil fertility, including crop rotation, cover cropping, and application of mulching. In chemical faming a specific insecticides may be applied to quickly kill off a particular insect pest but his encourages rapid natural selection of resistant insects, plants and other organisms, necessitating increased use or more powerful control measures.
In contrast, organic farming tends to tolerate some pest populations while taking a longer-term approach. Organic farming, organic pest control involves techniques like encouraging predatory beneficial insects and microorganisms, careful crop selection and crop rotation. Each of these techniques also provides other benefits- soil protection, fertilization, pollination, water conservation etc. These benefits are both complementary and cumulative in overall effect on farm health. However, there are various major advantages of organic farming:-
(i) It increases productivity at lower cost:
There is misconception among the people that organic farming leads to loss in productivity. It is also proven that after a short period of drop in yields, organic farming is more productive than chemical farming.
(ii) Environmental friendly:
Conventional agriculture based on chemical farming is rapidly depleting natural resources particularly fresh water, soil, air and fossil fuels. In chemical farming there is also use of large quantities of pesticides, fertilizer etc. and there is also water wastage through high volume irrigation, heavy use of petrochemicals for farm machinery and long distance transport etc. but organic farming curtails all these.
(iii) It reduces food contamination and increased food equality:
Conventional agricultural practices based on chemical fertilizer causing greater contamination of food in absence certification and in the wake of unhygienic handling. But in organic farming there is such problems: To promote organic farming in India, the Central Government has set up National Institute of Organic Farming in 2003, in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, the purpose of this institute is to formulate rules, regulation and certification of organic from products in conformity with international standards the institute has appointed Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority.
The Tea Board, the Spice Board, the Coconut Development Board and the Directorate of Cashew and Cocoa as certifying agencies for organic farm products. They will be accountable for confirming that any product sold with the "India organic" logo is in accordance with international criteria. Organic farming has also been identified as a major thrust area of the 10th Plan of the central government and for this one billion rupees have been allocated to the National Institute of Organic Farming alone.
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What is organic farming?, The method adopted by it is different from conventional agriculture., Government's initiative to encourage., Different methods of organic farming., Areas ideals for organic farming., Steps to be taken for it and Advantages of organic farming.
Organic foods are the ones which are derived from organic farming. Organic farming is a method where the crops are raised on a piece of land with the use of organic wastes, namely; crop, animal and farm waste, compost, green manure and other biological materials along with bio-fertilizers (microbes which help in composting). They are used in order to maintain essential nutrients of soil and help in sustainable production in an eco-friendly environment. Food and Agriculture Organisation defines organic farming as, "a unique production management system which promotes and enhances agroecosystem health, including bicidiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity".
Organic farming can be carried out by various agronomical methods. These on-farm methods are distinct from conventional agriculture. Organic farming has a very high potential in hilly areas and can become a game changer in North-Eastern region. At a time when Genetically Modified (GM) crops are making forays into the agriculture sector, it is imperative to weigh its (GM Crop) pros and cons against organic produce.
Organic production systems are based on specific and precise standards of production which aim at achieving optimal agroecosystems which are socially, ecologically and economically sustainable.
The Indian Government has taken a number of initiatives to boost organic farming in India.
National Project on Organic Farming is a continuing Central Sector Scheme since 10th Five Year Plan. Planning Commission approved the scheme as pilot project for the remaining two and a half years of 10th Five Year Plan. This scheme is continuing till the end of 12th Five Year Plan. Government is promoting production of organic crops, fruits and vegetables etc through various schemes viz National Horticulture Mission (NHM), Horticulture Mission for North-East and Himalayan States (HMNEH), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Project on Management of Soil Health and Fertility (NPMSHF). National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF), Network Project on Organic Farming under Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and various schemes of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).
The government is also promoting organic farming by providing incentives to cultivators of organic food products and providing organic farming certification to a group of farmers on nominal cost
In this way, government aims to cover 5 lakh acres in 3 years with 10000 clusters. The scheme will raise .farmer's income and create potential market for traders. It will also provide incentives to farmers for natural resource mobilisation. Any river plain across the world has a very high potential for • generating organic inputs. India, because of its diverse climate and low
input cost of materials is a fertile ground for organic farming. Preservation of soil health by employing farm waste, animal husbandry waste, domestic biodegradable waste etc is the thrust of the scheme.
Many methods that are employed for organic-farming which include crop rotation, bio-composting, biological pest control, green manuring for soil management etc. Green Revolution discouraged multi-cropping and encouraged wheat monoculture which is the main cause behind diminishing returns. Therefore, crop rotation can ensure restoration of essential nutrients. Bio-composting is another method of organic farming. Here, the farm waste is used along with other available wastes. They are decomposed with the help of microbes and are then applied as natural
fertilizer. Biological pest control is an additional method of. organic farming where other organisms are used to control pests with limited supply of chemicals. Similarly, green manuring is a method where the stubs of uprooted plants or hay are burnt in the field in order to make them act
as a source of nutrients.
Organic farming has a very high potential in hilly areas. As these areas are fragile, organic farming be encouraged in these areas. Use of excessive fertilizer leads to eutrophication in lakes which is detrimental to aquatic
life and can also lead to rise of invasive species. Organic farming may be the apt solution for hilly tracts of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal, Uttarakhand and the North-East.
Genetically modified crops are a strict no for organic farming. They are diametrically opposite. As one promotes diversity, the other (GM) is reliant on uniformity of gene. Genetically modified crops is capable of disturbing the natural balance of environment. Organic farming, on the other hand, is deep rooted in the processes of nature and will not disturb the balance of nature.
Since organic farming strikes a balance between soil health, human health and environmental health, it appears to be one of the viable sustainable options. Based on the above advantages, Government of India made an Organic Farming Policy in 2905 to promoe the same. Major thrust areas of the policy are maintammg soil fertility; identifying crops suitable for organic farming; assuring organic inputs for farming; adopting biological. methods of pest and weed control; harnessing traditional arn.t inaigenous knowledge; creating awareness about organic produce; development of domestic organic market; simplifying certification system etc.
Organic farming, on one hand has high advantages, but its viability will only be addressed when more cultivated areas come under it Organic farming has many advantages but there are various factors which resist its widespread adoption. The inputs needed are expensive and are not available widely for extensive, commercial fanning. The inputs make the crops expensive and beyond the reach of common people. The productivity of organic farmland is less as compared to conventional farmland. The food quality and safety standards of organic produce vary widely. It is not favourable for subsistence farming as fallow land once in a while is a prerequisite. Therefore, for the time being organic farming needs government support to mainstream the practice.
It can be said that organic farming and organic produce have promising future because of its sustainability and environment sensitive parameters and the present high costs of organic food should not become an impediment. We should rather see it in terms of gains we are making by preserving the vital delicate balance of nature.