The mother earth suffers a lot because of human greediness. Whether it be our act of destroyer in the name of development or the accumulation of natural wealth or producing excess of food by breaking the natural chain, we are only responsible for all of this loss. Although late, people are turning their heads towards sustainable development. Considering it, the United Nations also has given some targets for sustainable development and ask the member countries to achieve those as early as possible. Perhaps the valued reason for this alternative is that even human beings themselves are suffering from their greediness. But whatever the reason behind, the ongoing activities around the world are a welcome motive for a better future of human beings. The adoption of organic farming is one of the foremost agenda of sustainable development. ‘How to promote organic farming?’- becomes a part of the policies of different countries.
Meanwhile, some of the countries are already switchbacking their agricultural practices to organic partially or completely. But it is very important to adopt organic farming in highly populated countries like India.
Due to the ever-rising population in India, the adoption of any new agricultural practice is always a challenging task. Green Revolution has proved as a blessing for hungry India. Hungry India prefers quantity than the quality of its food products. Considering all these points, it is not an easy task of promoting organic farming in India on a large scale.
But to achieve the sustainable development goals of the United Nations and to ensure a healthy future, India must adopt organic farming at an early date. The culture of production in numbers only has to be changed. Which is achievable through the innovative promotion of organic farming and also by making aware of the benefits of quality food among the cultivators as well as in buyers. Moreover, we need some trustworthy innovative ideas that can change the mindset of the cultivators.
What is organic farming?
It is very necessary to know a little about the sea before we go deep into the sea. So I am trying to give you a brief idea of organic farming through this small heading.
Organic farming is not a very new concept for Indians. We were always organic before we owned the Green Revolution. So it is not a very hard concept to understand for the Indian cultivators.
Generally, organic farming denotes the natural ways of farming. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, which is an international organization for organic farming defines the term in the following way.
Organic farming is an integrated system of farming where maintenance of soil fertility and the ecological balance are two basic criteria. It prohibits the use of synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, artificial hormones, and genetically modified varieties.
One of the prestigious programs of the Indian government, National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture defines the term in the following way:
Organic agriculture is a production of agricultural products free from chemicals and pesticides residues by adopting ecofriendly low cost technologies
That means to maintain soil fertility and to enhance the production rate, the cultivators can use organic manure like cow-dung, vermicompost, etc, in their farms. Fortunately, these substances have been used indigenously in the countryside of India since many thousand years back.
Farming through the use of daily food wastages may another influencing definition of organic farming. As the space for farming is reducing day by day, the principle of three R’s i.e. Reduce, Recycle and Reuse becomes a more sustainable way of practicing farming in the present day. How does it work? You can reduce your consumption amount because of enough nutritional foods available through organic farming. You can recycle food wastage so that you can use it in your organic farm.
Main principles of organic farming
The main principles of organic farming are the followings:
- Aims to work as much as possible within a closed system, and draw upon local resources.
- It must ensure the long-term fertility of soils.
- Avoidance of all types of pollution that may result from agricultural techniques.
- Ensure to produce foodstuffs of high nutritional quality and sufficient quantity.
- Encourages to complete avoidance of fossil fuel.
- Aims to give a complete physiological needs to the livestock.
- To make it possible for cultivators to earn a living through their work and develop their potentialities as a human being.
Compare to chemical-based conventional farming the production rate is low in organic farming. This is one of the prominent reasons for the slow progress of organic farming in India. Again that same question of feeding a vast number of hungry Indians comes into the picture. So, along with the vital factors related to the promotion of organic farming in India, all the policies, scientific analysis, and ideas should be production centric.
Because of its vastness, it is always a challenging task to implement any plan and program successfully in India. Besides, excessive diversity in geography and culture always stands as resistance against the fulfillment of any scheme equally across the country. To date, organic farming is practicing only in a handful of states of India. Although there are almost 7 lakhs registered cultivators practices organic farming, but only 0.4% of cultivated land is under organic cultivation. Which is far less than the world average (almost 2%). So, there is a huge scop for motivating organic farming at different levels.
Different programs and schemes have been initiated by the government of India for the promotion of organic farming from time to time. Any promotional activities related to organic farming is expected to based on the following four-pillar:
1) Organic standards of the produce.
3) Technology packages.
4) Market potentiality.
So, it is better to analyze some of them before we go to the new one.
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)
‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ is a sub-component of the ‘National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture’ launched in 2015. It aims to promote organic farming in the villages in cluster mode and the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) certification.
The scheme envisages the following outcomes:
- Promotion of commercial organic production through certified organic farming.
- The produce will be pesticide residue free and will contribute to improving the health of the consumer.
- It will raise the farmer’s income and create a potential market for traders.
- It will motivate the farmers for natural resource mobilization for input production.
How does it work?
The actual program is implemented with the help of state governments. It works in the following way:
- Mobilization of farmers / local people to form a cluster in 50 acres for PGS certification. The state government identifies targeted 50-acre areas of cultivated fields of the farmer for the formation of the cluster.
- The state government arranges an exposure visit for the members of a cluster to create more practical knowledge on organic farming.
- State Government identifies one lead resourceful person (LRP) from the cluster who represents the cluster and becomes Trainer of Trainer (TOT).
- The state government in association with experts from NCOF/RCOF/ICAR/SAUs arranges training for the members of a cluster.
- The next step is the preparation for PGS certification. As a part of the preparation, the concerned state government arranges training for the LRPs and provide necessary instructions for the certification process.
- The state government in association with the experts from NCOF/RCOF/ICAR/SAUs also arranges training for the preparation of organic manure and fertilizers at the cluster level.
- The government provides minimal assistance for each and every procurement starting from the stage of exposure to the accumulation of tools for farming required at different levels.
National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF)
National Project on Organic Farming is an ongoing project of the government of India from the 10th five-year plan. The project is functional through institutions like the National Center for Organic Farming, Regional Center for Organic Farming, and the research programs of different academic institutions of the country.
Aims and objectives of the project
- Aims to facilitate, encourage, and promote the development of organic agriculture in the country.
- Encourages production and use of organic and biological sources of nutrients like bio-fertilizers, organic manure, compost for sustained soil health and fertility, and improving soil organic carbon and to promote production and use of bio-pesticides, bio-control agents, etc as alternative inputs in organic farming.
- To act as a nodal agency for implementation of a quality control regime for biofertilizers and organic fertilizers, as per the requirement of FCO.
- Formulation of standards for other unregulated organic and biological inputs and bring them under quality control mechanism, define/upgrade standards and testing protocols.
- To run short term certificate courses on the organic system and on-farm resource management.
- Organization of training and refresher courses for State Governments’ quality control analysts/inspectors associated with the implementation of Fertilizer (Control) Order 1985 (FCO).
- Arrangement of training for trainers on certification systems, organic management, input production, and on other related aspects to certification and inspection agencies, extension agencies, farmers, industries, and organizations engaged in the production, and promotion of inputs and organic farming.
- Initiation of research on validation of established indigenous practices, inputs, and technologies leading to the development of the package of practices.
- Initiation of studies/surveys on biological soil health assessment under different farming systems, practices, or states.
- To act as a central information and data collection center on all aspects of organic farming and dissemination of information through print and electronic media.
- Publication of training literature, Newsletters, and validated and documented indigenous practices.Technical support to existing certification systems.
- Awareness program at different levels through seminars/workshops etc.
National Agricultural Development Program (NADP)
To rejuvenate the development of agriculture and the allied sectors the government of India introduced the National Agricultural Development Program in the 11th five-year plan. It was suggested that during the 12th Five Year plan period, each State government has to formulate different strategies. Accordingly, the state governments of different states have been working in this line for the better implementation of the program.
Aims and objectives of the program
- Arrangement of funds for the states so that the states can increase their investment in agriculture and allied sectors.
- Flexibility and autonomy to the states in planning and executing programs for agriculture from the district to grassroots levels
- Achieving the goal of reducing the yield gaps in some important crops so that incomes of farmers will maximize.
- Addressing the agriculture and allied sectors in an integrated manner.
Mission Organic Value Chain Development for N-E Region
Mission Organic Value Chain Development is a dedicated central program for the north-eastern states of India. This centrally funded scheme has been launched in the 12th five-year plan to find a proper use of the favorable soil and climate of this region.
To ensure safe and healthy food to everyone’s plate is the motto behind this specialized program. So, it is highly recommendable to switch our agricultural practices into organic, which is even the utmost demand of the global society. But, it is equally important to produce a sizable amount of good quality food accessible to every citizen. The N-E India is traditionally being an organic hub of the country because of its rainfed hilly areas and fertile bank of the mighty river Brahmputra and Barak.
Aims and objectives:
- Replacement of the conventional farming system by a local resource-based, self-sustainable, high-value commercial organic system.
- To develop a commodity-specific commercial organic value chain.
- Establishment of organic parks/zones with facilities for collection, aggregation, value addition, processing, storage, and market-linkages for specific commodities.
- Processing for brand-building of the organic products of the N-E India under the direct control of the growers/farmers of the region.
- Creation of the Organic Commodity Boards or Organic Missions at the state level for coordinating, monitoring, supporting, and financing the development and operationalization of the entire value chain.
Sikkim is the only fully organic state of India. The journey was starting in 2003 with a dream of transforming Sikkim into the first organic state of India of then Chief Minister Pawan Chamling. To realize his dream project the state cabinet had passed the State Policy for Organic Farming in 2004. Finally, in 2010, the state launched the prestigious “Organic Mission”, a complete action plan for the practice of organic agriculture throughout the state. As a result, Sikkim became the first fully organic state of not only India but also the world over in the year 2015. Interestingly, the second is yet to come.
Lessons from Sikkim-How they promote organic farming?
What has been done by Sikkim to achieve the goal in such a short duration of time? The basic reason for this achievement is the willingness of the people of the state for organic food. People’s desire was getting impetus through the political will of the ruling party. To encourage the tremendous potentiality of organic farming, the state government implemented the following policies:
- Judicious banning of the use, import, and production of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
- Arrangement of training for organic farming, production of bio-fertilizers, vermicompost through the state of art facilities.
- Arrangement of extensive soil testing under the authorized body of the central government.
- Creation of a supply chain for quality organic seeds across the state.
- Subsidy for certification as well as the arrangement of the requirement for certification.
- Financial assistance to recover the initial loss of the farmers.
- Inclusion of topics related to organic farming in the school curriculum.
Moreover, people’s participation in all the policies of the state government for the evolution of organic farming in the state is the basis of this tremendous success. The rest of the country should follow the stretagies behind this huge achievement of the state.
So, this is the right time to focus on the main question of this article.
How to promote organic farming extensively?
As you have seen, the point of promotion of organic farming in India is not a very new task, so it is time for extensive promotion of it so that a new agricultural revolution rises again. It is a two-way process-awareness and implementation of policies.
- Farmers as well as the buyers both should be aware of the risk of producing and eating chemical-based conventional foods.
- People should be aware of the health benefits of eating organic food at a large level. Proper research on the health benefits of eating only organic food should be held at different levels.
- A basis for affinity towards organic foods and daily use items can be built by the judicious inclusion of topics related to the benefits of organic foods and farming in the school curriculum.
- Although people are aware of the benefits of using organically produced foods and commodities, the lack of a straight forward analysis of the results discourages them to transform their habits. So, R & D institutions and universities should come forward to answer the people’s questions related to the use of organically produced materials.
- The existing farmers should be aware of the various government schemes on organic farming. Without the proper exploitation of government programs and schemes, the new young and dynamic people will not find any interest in this sector.
- Awareness of the market price of organic produce so that the farmers are to be motivated for practicing organic farming.
- The pace of training in different fields of the sector should be increased.
Along with the central policies, each and every Indian state have their own schemes and policies for the promotion of organic farming. But the result is in front of you. There must be a drastic change in the level of implementation. Most of the time the targeted people remain unaware of the real benefit of the schemes. Sometimes the practicability of the policies seems questionable at the grassroots level.
So, it is high time for the policymakers as well as the stakeholders to refine their strategies for the promotion of organic farming. Some points of concern may be as follows:
- Making policy should be a two-way process. There must be a window for correction of announced policy according to the implemented area.
- Policies should be straight forward. Any scheme or policy that not understandable by the beneficiary has no meaning.
- The subsidies for farming, certifications as well as for the initial loss of the existing farmers should be reached to the farmers at an early time.
- Implementation of the right policy so that the usual time of 3 years for PGS certification can be minimized.
- Authority of certification should be enlarged so that more and more farmers can be certified in a short time. Otherwise, manpower in the dealing agencies should be increased.