Largest Producers and Exporters of Organic Ghee Pulses Spices and Frozen Vegetables
In today’s terminology organic farming is a method of farming system which primarily aims at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way, as to keep the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (biofertilizers and biopesticides) to grow and protect the crops for increased sustainable production in an eco-friendly pollution free environment. In philosophical terms organic farming means “farming in spirits of organic relationship. In this system everything is connected with everything else. Since organic farming means placing farming on integral relationship, we should be well aware about the relationship between the soil, water and plants, between soil-soil microbes and waste products, between the vegetable kingdom and the animal kingdom of which the apex animal is the human being, between agriculture and forestry, between soil, water and atmosphere etc. It is the totality of these relationships that is the bed rock of organic farming.
Agro-practices designed based on scientific principals after research and developments (R & D) in the past about six decades are termed as conventional agriculture. It involves use of agro-chemicals such as fertilizers, synthetic pesticides and herbicides, besides (a) improved seeds – high yielding varieties (HYV), hybrids and more recently genetically modified (GM) seeds; (b) mechanization and other cultivation tools, (c) irrigation, (d) other technological outputs such as growth hormones, antibiotics (say in poultry) etc. The collective use of these has been widely referred as „Green Revolution‟ or GR inputs.
Many people believe that OF is non-scientific. It is incorrect. Yes, it is essentially un-explored, un-researched by the mainstream system in its totality. But it does not mean that it is non-scientific. Scientists need to research and understand the underlying principles of OF. Several aspects of OF are plausible and scientifically explicable. For most scientists the claims of high yields with OF are unproven at their research farms and unpublished in the research journal. But recent researches and long term experiment trials have proved that comparable yields are possible under organic management. Large number of practicing organic farmers, their high yields and their scientific system of farming is a proof of it and can be validated and researched by the scientists.
As per the definition of the USDA study team on organic farming “organic farming is a system which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives etc) and to the maximum extent feasible rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection”. In another definition FAO suggested that “Organic agriculture is a unique production management system which promotes and enhances agroecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity, and this is accomplished by using on-farm agronomic, biological and mechanical methods in exclusion of all synthetic off-farm inputs”. As per Codex definition, “organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It emphasizes the use of management practices in preference to the use of offfarm inputs, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using, where possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfil any specific function within the system.”
Organic farming (OF) is a farming system based approach involving use of all potential „good agricultural practices or GAP‟ including recycling of locally available natural resources, integration of crops and animals into the local farming system. Thus it not only promotes poly cropping on a given piece of land it also connects plants (annual and perennial), animals (fishes etc. included where relevant). In addition to other requirements of crop production to harvest high yield, a crop needs nutrients to grow and support of plant protection agents against pests. In conventional farming (CF) nutrient need is met by bag fertilizers synthesized using fossil fuels while in OF it is met by the activity of agriculturally beneficial microorganisms, available in plenty in several natural niches or can be multiplied by small bioproducts companies. Focus of research in CA is on killing the pests using synthetic pesticides while OF depends more on natural allies in managing them. Knowledge on biological aspects of insect life and behavior, and on botanicals and microbial agents with ability to suppress pests are important in OF. Over years organic farmers in India have noted local recipes and products to serve as a source of crop nutrients or crop protection and thus do not depend on market supplies for their inputs. OF practitioners in developed countries generally depend on market for biological options.
It is widely believed that when crops are grown without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides crop yields reduce. But this is not true. Various long term experiments conducted in various countries, including India (at ICRISAT and ICAR) have proved beyond doubt that once the soil health is restored, comparable yields can be harvested with most of the crops. During conversion period when soils are not fit for organic yields may decline, but with appropriate planning and crop selection it can be contained. One can meet and verify several OF practicing farmers claiming their yield at par or better than their neighbour conventional farmers. Reduced yield in the initial years when a field is converted from conventional system to organic, is a widely observed phenomenon and OF cannot be quoted as low-yielder on this basis. The initial one to three year period is needed to build the agriculturally beneficial microorganisms in soil that have been adversely affected by use of agro-chemicals in CA. With scientific understanding of this soil-life building process it should be possible to reduce this period to less than one year.