Organic Farming in India: The Future of Sustainable Agriculture

Organic Farming Produce

Introduction

The term ‘organic’ was first coined by Northbourne, in 1940, in his book entitled ‘Look to the Land’. In recent years, organic farming as a cultivation process is gaining increasing popularity . Organically grown foods have become one of the best choices for both consumers and farmers. Organically grown foods are part of go green lifestyle.

Farmers showing their Organic Harvest

Why Being Preferred These Days: The Importance of Organic Farming

Food quality and safety are two vital factors that have attained constant attention in common people. Growing environmental awareness and several food hazards (e.g. dioxins, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and bacterial contamination) have substantially decreased the consumer’s trust towards food quality in the last decades. Intensive conventional farming can add contamination to the food chain. For these reasons, consumers are quested for safer and better foods that are produced through more ecologically and authentically by local systems. Organically grown food and food products are believed to meet these demands.

Organic Farming Processes

Organic Farming Process

Organic farming and food processing practices are wide-ranging and necessitate the development of socially, ecologically, and economically sustainable food production system. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) has suggested the basic four principles of organic farming, i.e. the principle of health, ecology, fairness, and care . The main principles and practices of organic food production are to inspire and enhance biological cycles in the farming system, keep and enhance deep-rooted soil fertility, reduce all types of pollution, evade the application of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, conserve genetic diversity in food, consider the vast socio-ecological impact of food production, and produce high-quality food in sufficient quantity.

Principles of Organic Farming  

According to the National Organic Programme implemented by USDA Organic Food Production Act (OFPA, 1990), agriculture needs specific prerequisites for both crop cultivation and animal husbandry. To be acceptable as organic, crops should be cultivated in lands without any synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and herbicides for 3 years before harvesting with enough buffer zone to lower contamination from the adjacent farms. Genetically engineered products, sewage sludge, and ionizing radiation are strictly prohibited. Fertility and nutrient content of soil are managed primarily by farming practices, with crop rotation, and using cover crops that are boosted with animal and plant waste manures. Pests, diseases, and weeds are mainly controlled with the adaptation of physical and biological control systems without using herbicides and synthetic pesticides. Organic livestock should be reared devoid of scheduled application of growth hormones or antibiotics and they should be provided with enough access to the outdoor. Preventive health practices such as routine vaccination, vitamins and minerals supplementation are also needed.

Principles of Organic Farming

Types of Organic Farming

Organic Farming are of two types. Here are the two types of Organic Farming being performed in India.

(a) Pure Organic Farming – pure organic farming, there is avoiding every unnatural chemical. In the process of pure farming, fertilizer and pesticides obtain from natural sources. It is called a pure form of organic farming. Pure organic farming is the best for high productivity. 

(b) Integrated Organic Farming – Integrated organic farming consists of integrated nutrients management and integrated pest management.

Organic Farming in India

Organic farming is in a nascent stage in India. About 2.78 million hectare of farmland was under organic cultivation as of March 2020, according to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. This is two per cent of the 140.1 million net sown area in the country. A few states have taken the lead in improving organic farming coverage, as a major part of this area is concentrated only in a handful of states. Madhya Pradesh tops the list with 0.76 million of area under organic cultivation — that is over 27 per cent of India’s total organic cultivation area. The top three states — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra — account for about half the area under organic cultivation. The top 10 states account for about 80 per cent of the total area under organic cultivation. Sikkim is the only Indian state to have become fully organic so far. Even though India has very small organic area under cultivation, in terms of number of organic farmers it is being ranked first. India has over 1.9 million farmers as of March 2020, which is 1.3 per cent of 146 million agricultural landholders.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Organic Farming

Advantages of Organic Farming

Organic farming in India is very economical, it uses no expensive fertilizers, pesticides, HYV seeds for the plantation of crops. It has no expenses. 

With the use of cheaper and local inputs, a farmer can earn a good return on investment. This is one of the most important benefits of organic farming in India. 

There is a huge demand for organic products in India and worldwide and can earn more income through export.

Organic products are more nutritional, tasty, and good for health to chemical and fertilizer utilized products. 

Organic farming in India is very environment friendly, it does not use fertilizers and chemicals. 

Disadvantages of Organic Farming

Organic farming in India has fewer choices, and off-season crops are limited.

Organic agricultural products are low in the early years. Farmers find it difficult to accommodate mass production.

The main disadvantage of organic farming is the lack of marketing of the products and Inadequate infrastructure.

Organic Farming in India

Future of Organic Farming in India

India is an agriculture-based country with 67% of its population and 55% of manpower depending on farming and related activities. Agriculture fulfils the basic needs of India’s fastest-growing population accounted for 30% of total income. Organic farming has been found to be an indigenous practice of India that practised in countless rural and farming communities over the millennium. The arrival of modern techniques and increased burden of population led to a propensity towards conventional farming that involves the use of synthetic fertilizer, chemical pesticides, application of genetic modification techniques, etc.

Organic Farming leads to Sustainability and Holistic Growth

Even in developing countries like India, the demand for organically grown produce is more as people are more aware now about the safety and quality of food, and the organic process has a massive influence on soil health, which devoid of chemical pesticides. Organic cultivation has an immense prospect of income generation too. The soil in India is bestowed with various types of naturally available organic nutrient resources that aid in organic farming.

As per data collected from Government of India

Conclusion

India is a country with a concrete traditional farming system, ingenious farmers, extensive drylands, and nominal use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Moreover, adequate rainfall in north-east hilly regions of the country where few negligible chemicals are employed for a long period of time, come to fruition as naturally organic lands. Organic farming yields more nutritious and safe food. The popularity of organic food is growing dramatically as consumer seeks the organic foods that are thought to be healthier and safer. Thus, organic food perhaps ensures food safety from farm to plate. The organic farming process is more eco-friendly than conventional farming. Organic farming keeps soil healthy and maintains environment integrity thereby, promoting the health of consumers. Moreover, the organic produce market is now the fastest growing market all over the world including India. Organic agriculture promotes the health of consumers of a nation, the ecological health of a nation, and the economic growth of a nation by income generation holistically. India, at present, is the world’s largest organic producers and with this vision, we can conclude that encouraging organic farming in India can build a nutritionally, ecologically, and economically healthy nation in near future.