Organic Farming is a form of agriculture that relies on techniques that helps in raising crops with keeping the soil alive and in good health.
Sikkim becomes the first truly organic state of India in 2016.
However, area-wise among all states, Madhya Pradesh has the largest area under organic farming followed by Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.
What is Organic Farming Technique?
Organic farming techniques include crop rotation, green manure, and biological pest control with the help of organic wastes and other biological materials along with bio-fertilizers, to provide sufficient nutrients to the crops and sustainable production of the crops without harming the environment, soil, and nutritional value.
The term “organic food” is only used to refer to foods produced without using chemical pesticides, fertilizers, or genetically modified raw materials and processed without using chemical additives or other synthetic substances.
Moreover, meat, poultry, and dairy products produced without the use of antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones are also included in the definition.
One of the most mesmerizing features is that organic products produced in India include a variety of food products namely sugarcane, tea, fruit, spices, vegetables, etc
Organic Farming: Products and Certification
India’s Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) handles the regulation of organic food.
In November 2017, the FSSAI announced organic food laws that govern the production, marketing, distribution, and import of organic foods into India.
Any food that wants to be labeled as “organic” in India must be certified under one of the two systems-
- National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), and
- Participatory Guarantee System for India (PGS-India)
PGS India is a self-certification system meant for the domestic market only which comes under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
This organic regulation was created to address the issue of fraud and mislabeling in foods marketed as “organic,”.
It permits the import of organic food into India without re-certification in India if the organic standards of the exporting nation have been recognized as being similar to NPOP.
National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) is a third-party certification program run under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry since 2001. This program laid down the norms and guidelines governing the production of organic food.
Farmers and enterprises involved in producing organic fruits, vegetables, grains, and processed foods must follow these standards.
For instance, for a honey production business to be certified as organic, every farm within a 5 km radius of the bee box and the farmer’s land on which the bee box is maintained must comply with organic standards.
The certification under the NPOP program is mainly done by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Apart from a number of private certification organizations like the Indian Organic Certification Agency (INDOCERT), Natural Organic Certification Pvt. Ltd., and State government organizations like Uttarakhand State Organic Certification Agency, a central government agency like FSSAI also certifies organic products.
Advantages of Organic Farming and Products
In India, organic farming is a fundamental method of agriculture. Crop rotation and natural compost, which improve soil fertility and crop health, are among the best farming practices that have been used since ancient times.
Crop quality and soil fertility have both significantly declined with the increased usage of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides. These modifications may be reversed via organic farming.
- Organic farming increases the nutritional content of food.
- It helps in maintaining the fertility of the soil.
- Discourages the use of chemical products such as pesticides and fertilizers that makes the crop free from poisonous contents.
- Toxin-free food reduces health issues earlier caused by the absorption of toxins by crops.
- Organically produced food serves a better nutrition quotient and better taste.
- Organic farming enables the storage of organic food for a longer time as organic plants have greater metabolic and structural integrity in their cellular structure.
Challenges Faced in Organic Farming
- It involves a significant investment of manpower and financial resources.
- An underdeveloped supply chain and small and mid-size farmers located in the hilly region could face a problem to access the market.
- Lack of infrastructure, cold storage, etc could lead to spoilage.
- Farmers under a self-certification program like the PGS system for India are not allowed to export. In fact, APEDA has made it mandatory a third-party certification for the export of organic products.
- segregation of organic products from conventional products to avoid cross-contamination.
- Chances of loss in yield while changing the technique from conventional chemical-based farming to organic farming.
- A shortage of good-quality organic inputs increases the loss of yield.
- The most important issue faced by the market is ‘Greenwashing’ as many products in the market is claiming to be organic products but in practice are not complying with the government guidelines.
- Due to lower productivity, farmers are forced to sell the products at premium prices, making it unbearable for the common man.
The green revolution and excess use of fertilizers and pesticides are creating multiple health and lifestyle-related issues and environmental problems. Organic farming can be used as a method to solve soil and contamination problems.
Organic farming makes the soil healthy and filled with helpful organisms. These beneficial bacteria, fungi, and microorganisms keep the pathogenic bacteria and fungi in check.
In organic and low-input production systems, plant diseases are a major factor in crop yield and quality losses.
Crop rotation and proper fertility management, which include supplying crops with a balanced amount of macro and micronutrients, have been demonstrated to increase crops’ resilience to specific diseases.
Herbicides, made of chemicals are prohibited in organic farming. So, to control weeds, many cultural techniques like tillage, floods, and mulching can be applied.
In addition, biological (pathogen) methods can be applied to control weed-related loss. Utilizing drip irrigation, which restricts the flow of water to the plant line, can also help to reduce the growth of weeds.
Large-scale organic farming may not be feasible for supplying a 130-crore-person nation with the food it needs. India’s population makes up 16% of the world’s population, while its arable land makes up 2.4% of the world’s total arable land. India will need to adopt a well-rounded strategy that carefully integrates both science and technology and organic techniques.
Article Written By: Priti Raj