What is Organic Farming?
It is a method of raising agricultural crops without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Organic farming helps in cultivation of land, increases soil fertility and yield quality. Use of organic wastes such as animal or aquatic wastes and crop or farm wastes and some other biological materials (biofertilizers) is done in the farming. Organic farming is eco-friendly and helps to protect environment from pollution.
Concept and charactertistics:-
- It helps to shield the long fertility of soils by sustaining organic matter levels, boosting biological activities and cautious mechanical intervention.
- Providing friendly-microorganisms to the soil indirectly which converts soluble nutrient to the plant for their good growth and development.
- It improves nitrogen self-efficiency and biological nitrogen fixation by the use of legumes. It also helps in recycling of organic materials such as livestock manures and crop residues.
- The animals which feed on organic plants, gets extra nutrition, has improved health conditions and breeding.
- By doing organic farming, it improves wildlife and natural habitats.
Enhanced area under certified organic farming:
- Around 1.4million producers are managing 35 million hectares of agricultural land doing organic farming.
- India has the highest number of producers doing organic farming i.e. having 340,000 producers.
Organic farming and development support:-
From last 25 years, both public and private sectors are contributing well for organic sector in many countries of the world. The different institutions which took initiative for organic farming are:
- ORCA: Organic Research Centres Alliance which is hosted by FAO which helps the existing institution to become Centre of excellence in organic agricultural research.
- ITC: International Trade Centre supports the organic sector via giving marketing information, training and by doing trade promotions.
Organic agriculture in India:-
Organic farming is done by the farmers for different reasons. The first reason is the farmers living in low or no input areas, for them organic farming is a way of income source and they were doing it as a tradition. The second reason is the farmers which have newly adopted the organic farming to overcome from results of conventional farming i.e. soil fertility, food toxicity etc. The third reason is to get high income by doing certified organic farming.
In 2003-04 year, the certified organic farming is 17,500 acre but in last 5 year it increases vastly. In year 2010, the certified organic farming is done in 1.86 million acre land.
Important features of Indian organic sector
India is the single largest country doing certified organic farming and is highest arable for doing organic farming. India is the largest producer of organic cotton farming with the production of 77,000 metric tonnes.
There is rapid growth in last 10 years, i.e. there is almost 25-30% increase in organic farming. But still the demand is more and therefore needs more growth. Due to increasing awareness about the quality and safety of food among people, the demand of organic food is increasing. Therefore organic farming must be done in more land area.
Organic certification introduction:-
It is a process based system in which any type of agri-production, processing, packaging, transportation and distribution system certification is done. For its determination, different states have different standards which include certification of production, storage, processing, packaging and transportation. Mainly this process has following steps:
- Use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides is banned.
- Only the land in which fertilizer is not used from long time should be used for organic farming.
- Documentation of all processes and activities.
- Organic or inorganic production units should be kept separately.
- Time to time inspection is done to check the organic standards.
Need of organic certification:-
To provide customers high quality products and to protect them from sale of fake products we need organic certification. It will also provide guarantee to the customers.
To certify any farm or field, farmer has to control all the activities under a definite process and keep an account of all activities. Main ways of certification process are:
- Knowledge of standards: The entire biological production process is to be subjected to the standards set for each level and work, therefore the complete knowledge of production standards and their circulation is necessary.
- Compliance: Standards for doing organic farming must be followed properly. It also includes cleanliness and care of equipment’s and storage place, modifying facilities, sourcing and changing suppliers etc.
- Documentation: It includes extensive paper work in which information regarding farm history, current set-up and the results of soil and water test is included.
- Planning: Plan must be submitted regarding annual production, detail of everything such as seed to sale, seed sources, location of field and crop, fertilization and pest control activities, harvesting methods, storage locations etc.
- Inspection: Inspections at regular intervals are required in which physical tour, examination of records and an oral interview is included.
- Fee: A grower will pay the fee to certification body for annual surveillance and for getting a mark which is acceptable in the market as a symbol of quality.
- Record-keeping: Written record should be there regarding day to day farming which covers all the activities must be available for inspection at any time. Along with these, surprise inspections can be made or specific tests are requested to be done (e.g. soil, water, crop or production). A conventional farm adheres to organic standards for this period, often, three years.
Certification and product labeling:-
Under marketing ministry of Indian government “National Organic Accreditation body” started authentication system work. Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) this system is started. This system is started for export but now it is also used for local markets. Under this system 12 certified agencies are authorized.
Differences Between Organic and Conventional Farming Methods:-