Organic farming is a farming technique with numerous ecological benefits when compared to conventional agriculture. Farmers practicing organic farming use ecologically based pest control methods and biological fertilizers derived from cattle and plant wastes and nitrogen-fixing cover crops. Indian Farmers have been practicing organic way of farming for a long. They don’t rely on the use of chemicals instead they go for organic residues or cow dung and composts.
Access to quality food is as high on priority for any country as much as health. The concept of organic farming was developed to combat the environmental harm caused by the use of chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in conventional farming practices.
The main advantages of organic farming include fewer pesticides, less soil erosion, low nitrate leaching into groundwater or surface water, and reuse of animal wastes.
Organic farming in India statistics
India shares up to 30 % of the total organic producers in the world.
According to the World of Organic Agriculture 2018 report, India accounts for 2.59 % i.e. 1.5 million hectares of the total organic cultivation area out of 57.8 million hectares.
The North-Eastern region of India is a huge resource for organic farming. About 18 million hectares of land in the North-Eastern region of India is available for organic farms with negligible use of chemicals. A vast area in the country is exploited with chemicals with low yield. These areas can be treated to obtain high production through organic farming.
One of the challenges for future organic farming in India is to maintain its environmental benefits, high yields, and reduction in prices. Climate change and an increasing population are other constraints in this direction.
Importance of organic farming in India
In India, only thirty percent of the area with good irrigation facilities is cultivated with fertilizers. Farmers go for organic manure as a nutrient in fields.
The country holds great potential for organic farming. With little efforts in this direction, it can be a major supplier of organic products in the world.
The benefits of organic agriculture in India are counterbalanced by higher food costs for consumers and lower yields. Generally, yields of organic crops are about 25 percent lower overall than conventionally grown crops. This may vary considerably depending upon the type of crop.
Benefits of Organic farming in India
Organic way of farming maintains soil quality naturally. The use of chemicals affects the sustainability in soil and decrease its potency.
The application of organic manure improves soil organic carbon productivity. India has 700 metric tons of agricultural waste that are not used further. Organic manure is an excellent alternative renewable source for nutrients supply. Moreover, organic foods are superior in terms of health and safety. Also, organic farms have low pest and diseases as compared to conventional farms
Organic farming versus conventional farming
Organic agriculture has innumerable benefits over conventional farming.
The main drawback of conventional farming is that it relies on chemical intervention to provide plant nutrition, fight pests, and weeds. It involves a huge application of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Organic farming on the other hand relies on natural resources.
Organic methods of farming is not only the avoidance of conventional chemical inputs, but it involves a series of techniques such as the use of composted animal manure or green manure crops, in an economically sustainable manner.
Which state in India is leading in organic farming?
Since India always adopts modern techniques to minimize the hazard to the environment, Indian farmers are taking interest in organic farming too.
Sikkim is the first fully organic state of India and states like Tripura and Uttarakhand have set similar targets by practicing organic farming.
Nevertheless, North East India has always been organic and the consumption of chemicals is far less than other states of the country.
An organic e-commerce platform www.jaivikkheti.in is there to strengthened farmers by directly linking them with retail and bulk buyers. The integration of digital technology saves expenses on travel and logistics.
How can you start organic farming in India?
Because of the infinite benefits of organic farming, more people are interested in practicing organic farming. It is a simple and interesting way to improve your income and spend time with nature. Here are simple steps for beginners in the field of organic farming:
- To start an organic farm go through the basics of natural and organic farming.
- Discuss with people who are already in the business of organic food.
- Be an active participant in organic farm training programs or farmer-meet-up symposiums.
- Take advantage of the internet and go through the playlist tutorials, videos, and online forums.
- Select the site for your organic farm. It should have an active water source nearby.
- Check the farm’s closeness to the market. It enables the easy transport of farm produces for selling at a lower cost.
- Know the type of your market for organic food. Certain agricultural products are not sellable in a particular type of market.
- Do a thorough research and find what agricultural products the market requires and what is the market’s buying capacity. Find out how often does the market buys organic food.
- Now coming to the farm, prepare the soil, and make good compost.
- Organic farm products need good soil conditions. The soil has a direct effect on the plants growing in it.
- Don’t try any inorganic soil treatments. They can potentially harm the environment and the plants growing in the soil.
- Good soil is a mixture of compost, leaf and grass clippings, and manure necessary for the growth of plants.
- Making compost onsite is beneficial, easy, and saves a lot of money. Compost conserves water and cuts down on weeds.
- Take care of the field as the process of growing a crop is lengthy. Organic cultivation takes time and requires more attention.
- Remember one organic farming technique may not necessarily work for all plants on the same farm.
- Make a schedule for regular watering to avoid any damage.
- Another important maintenance task is weeding to remove unwanted plants. They capture the nutrients necessary for crops.
- Network with people for getting help in selling farm products. They are experienced and connect you to the right markets.
Organic farming association of India
Organic farming is becoming popular in India and requires a system to maintain the balance between producer and consumer.
In the year 2002, the Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI) was set up by the senior most members of Indiaâ€™s organic farming community. The primary goal of the association was to promote organic farming, lobby with government agencies and departments. Since more attention is required for sustainable agriculture, they assist farmers using chemicals and pesticides to turn successfully towards organic cultivation methods.
OFAI has formulated programs for assisting organic farmers with organic certification. They can participate fully in the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) of organic certification for the small and marginal farmers. It promotes and supports everyone involved in the business of organic marketing including individuals, communities, NGOs, and networks.
OFAI is the only membership-based national association of organic farmers, organic food promoters, and green stores.