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Organic Farming in India

Organic Farming in India
organic-farming-in-india

Wiki Project by Mrs. Rekha Rajan, PGT (Economics)

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Content
  • Definition
  • Organic farming in India
  • Benefits of organic farming
  • Criticism on organic farming


Definition

Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm. Organic farming excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, and genetically modified organisms.Organic farming usually involves mechanical weed control (via cultivating or hoeing) rather than herbicidal weed control.  

 

Organic farming in India                                                                                                    Top of Form

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Organic farming was practiced in India since thousands of years. The great Indian civilization thrived on organic farming and India was one of the most prosperous countries in the world, till the British ruled it.


In traditional India, entire agriculture was practiced using organic techniques, where the fertilizers, pesticides, etc., were obtained from plant and animal products. Organic farming was the backbone of the Indian economy and cow was worshipped (and is still done so) as God. The cow, not only provided milk, but also provided bullocks (for farming) and dung (which was used as fertilizers).


Shift to Chemical Farming in 1960s

During 1950s and 1960s, the ever increasing population of India and several natural calamities lead to severe food scarcity in the country. As a result, the government was forced to import food grains from foreign countries. To increase food security, the government had to drastically increase food production in India. The Green Revolution (under the leadership of M. S. Swaminathan) became the government’s most important program in the 1960s. Several hectares of land were brought under cultivation. Hybrid seeds were introduced. Natural and organic fertilizers were replaced by chemical fertilizers and locally made pesticides were replaced by chemical pesticides. Large chemical factories such as the Rashtriya Chemical Fertilizers were established.


Before the Green Revolution, it was feared that millions of poor Indians would die of hunger in the mid 1970s. However, the Green Revolution, within a few years, showed its impact. The country, which greatly relied on imports for its food supply, reduced its imports every passing year. In 1990s, India had surplus food grains and once again became an exporter of food grains.

As time went by, extensive dependence on chemical farming has shown its darker side. The land is losing its fertility and is demanding larger quantities of fertilizers to be used. Pests are becoming immune, requiring the farmers to use stronger and costlier pesticides. Due to increased cost of farming, farmers are falling into the trap of money lenders, who are exploiting them no end, and forcing many to commit suicide.


Both consumers and farmers are now gradually shifting back to organic farming in India. It is believed by many that organic farming is healthier. Though the health benefits of organic food are yet to be proved, consumers are willing to pay higher premium for the same. Many farmers in India are shifting to organic farming due to the domestic and international demand for organic food. Further stringent standards for non-organic food in European and US markets have led to rejection of many Indian food consignments in the past. Organic farming, therefore, provides a better alternative to chemical farming.


According to the International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD), about 2.5 million hectares of land was under organic farming in India in 2004. Further, there are over 15,000 certified organic farms in India. India, therefore is one of the most important suppliers of organic food to the developed nations. No doubt, the organic movement has again started in India.


Benefits of Organic Farming

  • Organic farming proves to be more profitable than the age old traditional farming methods.
  • It has been found that organic farming reduces the production cost by about 25-30%, as it does not involve the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which thus makes organic farming cost effective.
  • Soil is the most important component in farming and organic farming preserves soil by reducing soil erosion up to a large extent.
  • Organic farming also enables the farmers to use the soil for a longer period of time to grow crops as soil fertility is maintained for a long time.
  • Organic farming has a positive effect on the ecosystem, as it proves vital in supporting the survival of wildlife in the lowlands. It even provides safe pasture lands for grazing
  • Organic farming is not only beneficial for farmers, but it also has proved useful for the dairy industry. Cattle grazing on organic farmlands have been found to be less prone to diseases and they yield more milk. These are definitely good signs for a consumer of these dairy products from health perspective and for a dairy organization from the profit perspective.
  • Products or foodstuffs produced from organic farming neither contain any sort of artificial flavors or preservatives nor do they contain any harmful chemicals.
  • The original nutritional content of food is preserved due to the absence of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Organic products moreover are tastier than the products yielded from traditional farming.
  • Consumption of products obtained from organic farming minimizes the risks of physical ailments such as heart attacks. Scientific studies have proven that organic foods are healthier than the inorganic ones

Although some valid concerns do arise regarding the potential negative effects of organic farming, you must take care to realize where the information you read originates.

Farming

Proponents of genetically engineered food, pesticides, and added growth hormones occasionally release alarming warnings about organic farming without overtly revealing their own interests in the matter.

Potential Negative Effects of Organic Farming

While organic farming generally receives high praise from the media and environmental experts, there are also some critics who make the claim that the negative effects of organic farming outweigh the benefits. Some critics doubt that organic farming can be a global solution.

Effects on the Earth

Organic foods are marketed as being more environmentally sound that other foods are because they utilize farming methods that have less of an impact on the environment. Organic farmers also usemethods prescribed for organic farms to deal with pests and other problems.

In other words, organic farming will generally not include the use of pesticides, herbicides, and other compounds that have been shown to be potentially detrimental to the environment.

Critics of organic farming point out that conventional farming methods yield more product than organic farms, concluding that organic farming is inefficient. They point out that while organic farming may be attractive to consumers who can afford the foods, one of the negative effects of organic farming is that it may not be able to feed everyone within the world.

Naysayers of organic foods have doubts that organic farmers can produce the foods needed to match the current amount of farming outputs.

Since organic farms are not located as prevalently throughout the world as conventional farms are, some critics point out the environmental impact of shipping the organic foods to merchants. Although organic farming strives to have as small of an environmental impact as possible, the food may still be shipped using less than environmentally friendly methods. Some environmentalists make the claim that it may be better to purchase foods that are produced locally, regardless of whether they come from an organic farm, because of the lack of environmental impact of shipping.

Effects on the Body

Organic foods are generally regarded as more healthy than conventionally produced foods because they lack added growth hormones and other questionable elements. This does not exclude organic foods from criticism, though, as many critics attack the methods by which organic foods are produced and the effect they may have on the body.

For example, organic farms turn to natural fertilizers for growing crops, which often translates into using animal feces combined with other components instead of chemically constructed fertilizers. Opponents of organic farming warn that some foods - such as lettuce, parsley, and other foods - may harbor harmful bacteria that can be passed on to the consumer. While foods produced through conventional farming have similar risks, critics warn that the threat is heightened in organic foods.

Consumers may be less likely to take the same precautions with organic foods that they do with other types of food. For example, some consumers may buy organic apples and then assume that there is no need to wash the apple thoroughly prior to eating it because of its organic origins. This issue, of course, is not the fault of organic farmers, but it is a cited concern nonetheless.



 

 


Discussion

I expect the article to be written by a "proper" organic farming expert, who understands not only its nuances but also its concept, fundamentally... and not by a person who has taken only secondary information frm various sources to frame his/her opinion ( nothing personal against the above author)...



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