After reading this essay you will learn about:- 1. Meaning of Organic Farming 2. Need for Organic Farming 3. Organic Standards 4. Organic Production Practices 5. Organic Certification 6. Prospects of Organic Farming
Essay on the Meaning of Organic Farming:
Organic farming is a system of farming in which agricultural production is done without any use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. It is achieved by maintaining a natural balance and sustainable use of natural resources (soil, air, water).
It is based on the concept, ‘Feed the soil not the plant’ and stress is laid on increasing the soil fertility rather than supplying nutrition to the crop plants. But this does refers to the type of farming during pre-green revolution era. Now, we can use improved varieties, agricultural machinery, vermicompost, bio-fertilizers and bio- pesticides etc. which were not available in our traditional farming.
Some major advantages of organic farming include increased soil productivity, lower production cost, premium returns on organic produce, sustained agricultural production, employment generation, availability of pesticide residue free food and less environmental pollution.
Essay on the Need for Organic Farming:
Green revolution no doubt increased the food grain production but it also led to some agricultural problems. Excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, less use of organic manures, burning of rice and wheat straw etc. led to deterioration of environment and soil health.
Green revolution promoted rice-wheat cropping system which resulted in decrease in area under traditional pulse and oilseed crops. Rice-wheat cropping system ignored two basic principles of agriculture i.e. rotation of deep rooted with shallow rooted crops and legumes with non-legumes. Excessive and un-timely use of nitrogenous fertilizers (urea) led to contamination of ground waters due to leaching of nitrates with rains and irrigation water.
Use of un-recommended and un-timely pesticides at higher than the recommended doses resulted in appearance of pesticide residues in agricultural food products like milk, rice, wheat etc. Awareness about adverse effects of modern agriculture and increased demand for organic food products led to the development of organic farming.
There is a great demand of tea, basmati rice, spices, fruits, vegetables, pulses and cotton in the world organic food market. USA, Japan and European Union are the major organic food markets. Increased demand for organic food products also resulted in increase in area under organic farming in India.
Presently in India about 47 lakh ha area is under organic farming out of which only 7 lakh ha is cultivated area and rest is the wild forest area. To promote organic farming, the government has established a National Centre for Organic Farming at Ghaziabad which has several regional centres. In north India this centre is situated at Panchkula, Haryana.
Essay on Organic Standards:
These are some minimum requirements for organic food production and the food produced as per these standards are called organic. India formulated organic standards in 2004 which have also been accepted by USA, Japan and European Union.
These standards are not limited to production only but encompass processing, storage and transportation also. The ultimate aim of all these standards is to maintain the integrity of organic products till they reach the consumer.
Some of the major standards for agriculture production are:
i. Burning of crop residues is not allowed.
ii. Seed should be from the organic crop but if it is not available then untreated conventional seed may be used.
iii. There must be a legume crop in the cropping system to maintain soil health.
iv. Genetically modified crops like Bt varieties of crops are not allowed but Bt spray can be used for insect-pest management.
v. There must be a natural or artificial buffer around organic farm to separate it from chemical farms.
vi. Use of all agro-chemicals is prohibited.
vii. Use of contaminated water e.g. sewage water is prohibited.
Essay on Organic Production Practices:
Most of the inputs and production practices like seed, varieties and sowing methods are the same as that for conventional farming. The use of herbicides for weed control in organic crops is prohibited and weeds are to be managed by crop rotations or manipulating other cultural practices.
Intercropping of cowpea in maize rows and harvesting it for fodder at 35-40 days after sowing controls weeds in addition to supply of fodder for animals. Cowpea, being a legume, has no adverse effect on maize. In some crops like turmeric, weeds can be managed by rice straw mulching. Weeding can be done by hand, wheel hoe or with tractor.
Prohibition of chemical fertilizers necessitates the buildup of soil fertility which is achieved through inclusion of legume based cropping systems and incorporation of crop residues or their use as mulches or for making compost. Wherever possible legumes are used as intercrops and green manuring is done.
To meet nutritional requirement of crops farmyard manure, vermicompost, compost, bio-fertilizers (Rhizobium, Azotobacter) and non-edible cakes like castor cake are used. The farmyard manure from commercial dairy farms is not allowed on organic farms.
The crops are protected from insect-pests by using beneficial insects, birds, bio-pesticides (Bt, Trichogramma etc.), traps and locally available materials like extract of Neem etc. For disease management bio-fungicides like Trichoderma etc. can be used. Mixed cropping like wheat + gram also helps in managing insect-pests and diseases.
Essay on Organic Certification:
Certification is not the requirement of organic farming rather it is a requirement of organic food market. If we are producing organic products for home consumption or to sell these to known consumers, then certification may not be required. But if we are to sell these as organic products in the market or to export to other countries then certification is must.
It guarantees to the consumer that the organic product has been produced as per the organic standards. Presently, twenty four certification agencies have been authorized to do organic certification in India. For certification, a farmer has to get his farm registered with any one of these agencies.
Inspector of the agency inspects the farm and checks the compliance of organic standards by the farmer at his organic farm and only then produce of the farm is certified as organic. The produce of crop sown after two years from the date of registration of the farm with certification agency is certified as organic.
More information regarding organic standards and certification can be obtained from the website of APED A- www(dot)apeda(dot)gov(dot)in.
Essay on the Prospects of Organic Farming:
Though organic farming is emerging as a good alternative to chemical farming yet this is not a solution to all the agricultural related problems. Lower crop yields under organic farming and lack of marketing mechanism are its two major limitations. Increasing food grains demand for the burgeoning population is a big challenge to organic farming as we need about 276 million tones of food grains by 2020.
So keeping in mind the food grains requirement, the degradation of natural resources, excessive use of agrochemicals and their ill effects on human health, it has become necessary that in 32% of the irrigated area of India, i.e. green revolution belt, we should adopt integrated crop production practices.
In integrated production management, chemical and non- chemical methods of nutrition and pest management are combined. Organic farming in this belt should be done with only those crops in which there is no yield reduction under organic farming and organic premium and market is available.
Organic farming can be promoted in 68% of rainfed area of India where fertilizer and pesticide use is very less and which are organic by default or are nearly organic. In these areas also, the emphasis should be on organic cultivation of non-food crops as it will not have any adverse effect on our national food security.