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ORGANIC AGRICULTURE – THE PERSPECTIVE

“In a world of many choices organic agriculture is a serious option for many farmers and
consumers. Supporting that choice with credible science and critical evaluation is vital for improving
the productivity and environmental impact of organic agriculture. The challenge of organic
agriculture will depend in part on the location but some concerns will affect organic farmers and the
movement alike across the world.”
Organic Concept and Its Origin
There are many explanations and definitions for organic agriculture but all converge to state
that it is a system that relies on ecosystem management rather than external agricultural inputs. It is
a system that begins to consider potential environmental and social impacts by eliminating the use
of synthetic inputs, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, veterinary drugs, genetically
modified seeds and breeds, preservatives, additives and irradiation. These are replaced with site-
specific management practices that maintain and increase long-term soil fertility and prevent pest
and diseases.

The term ‘organic’ was first used in relation to farming by Northbourne (1940) in his book
Look to the Land: “the farm itself should have a biological completeness; it must be a living entity,
it must be a unit which has within itself a balanced organic life’. Clearly, Northbourne was not
simply referring to organic inputs such as compost, but rather to the concept or managing a farm
as an integrated, whole system. The use of organic in reference to agricultural production and food
is legally constrained in many countries. Many farmers in less developed countries may practice
organic agriculture by default based on their traditional methods of production. However, it is useful
to provide a general definition of organic agriculture to indicate briefly what the production systems
are designed to achieve The international food standards Codex Alimentarius* in association with
IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) - Organics
International)**and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations).

"Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances
agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It
emphasises the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into
account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using,
where possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic
materials, to fulfil any specific function within the system." (FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius
Commission, 1999).
In September 2005 in Adelaide, Australia, the General Assembly of IFOAM - Organics
International passed a motion to establish a succinct Definition of Organic Agriculture. After almost
three years of work by a designated task force, a definition reflecting the four Principles of Organic
Agriculture in a succint way was adopted in Vignola, Italy as follows:

"Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health


of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes,
biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of
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inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines tradition,
innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair
relationships and a good quality of life for all involved."

*The Codex Alimentarius (Latin for "Food Code") is a collection of internationally recognized
standards, codes of practice, guidelines, and other recommendations relating to foods, food
production, and food safety. Its name is derived from the Codex Alimentarius Austriacus. Its texts
are developed and maintained by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a body that was established
in early November 1961 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations(FAO), was
joined by the World Health Organization (WHO) in June 1962, and held its first session in Rome in
October 1963. The Commission's main goals are to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair
practices in the international food trade. The Codex Alimentarius is recognized by the World Trade
Organization as an international reference point for the resolution of disputes concerning food safety
and consumer protection.As of 2012, there were the 186 members of the Codex Alimentarius
Commission: 186 member countries and one member organization, the European Union (EU). There
were 215 Codex observers: 49 intergovernmental organizations, 150 non-governmental
organizations, and 16 United Nations organizations.

* IFOAM - Organics International is the worldwide umbrella organization for the organic agriculture
movement, which represents close to 800 affiliates in 117 countries. IFOAM - Organics International
declares its mission is to, "Lead, unite and assist the organic movement in its full diversity." and
vision is the "worldwide adoption of ecologically, socially and economically sound systems, based
on the Principles of Organic Agriculture. Among its wide range of activities, IFOAM - Organics
International maintains an organic farming standard, and an organic accreditation and certification
service.

Organic agriculture systems and products are not always certified and are referred to as "non-certified
organic agriculture or products". This excludes agriculture systems that do not use synthetic inputs
by default (e.g. systems that lack soil building practices and degrade land). Three different driving
forces can be identified for organic agriculture:
Consumer or market-driven organic agriculture. Products are clearly identified through
certification and labelling. Consumers take a conscious decision on how their food is produced,
processed, handled and marketed. The consumer therefore has a strong influence over organic
production.
Service-driven organic agriculture. In countries such as in the European Union (EU), subsidies for
organic agriculture are available to generate environmental goods and services, such as reducing
groundwater pollution or creating a more biologically diverse landscape.
Farmer-driven organic agriculture. Some farmers believe that conventional agriculture is
unsustainable and have developed alternative modes of production to improve their family health,
farm economies and/or self-reliance. In many developing countries, organic agriculture is adopted as
a method to improve household food security or to achieve a reduction of input costs. Produce is not
necessarily sold on the market or is sold without a price distinction as it is not certified. In developed
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countries, small farmers are increasingly developing direct channels to deliver non-certified organic
produce to consumers. In the United States of America (USA), farmers marketing small quantities of
organic products are formally exempt from certification.
An organic label indicates to the consumer that a product was produced using certain production
methods. In other words, organic is a process claim rather than a product claim. A tomato produced
by practices approved for organic production may very well be identical to a tomato produced under
other agricultural management regimes.
Organic agriculture is one of several approaches to sustainable agriculture and many of the techniques
used (e.g. inter-cropping, rotation of crops, double-digging, mulching, integration of crops and
livestock) are practised under various agricultural systems. What makes organic agriculture unique,
as regulated under various laws and certification programmes, is that: (1) almost all synthetic inputs
are prohibited, and (2) `soil building' crop rotations are mandated.
The basic rules of organic production are that natural inputs are approved and synthetic inputs are
prohibited. But there are exceptions in both cases. Certain natural inputs determined by the various
certification programmes to be harmful to human health or the environment are prohibited (e.g.
arsenic). As well, certain synthetic inputs determined to be essential and consistent with organic
farming philosophy, are allowed (e.g. insect pheromones). Lists of specific approved synthetic inputs
and prohibited natural inputs are maintained by all certification programmes and such a list is under
negotiation in Codex. Many certification programmes require additional environmental protection
measures in addition to these two requirements. While many farmers in the developing world do not
use synthetic inputs, this alone is not sufficient to classify their operations as organic.
The holistic approach dates back to the origin of organic agriculture in that the farm was not viewed
as a collection of separate parts but a single, self-managing organism. This view of the farm as an
organism is the origin of the term organic.
The perspective used here is based on the codex definition just stated above and further includes the
full organic and biodynamic supply chain from inputs to final manufactured goods, as well cultural
and social aspects of the movement and not just the on farm production aspects. The continued
existence of a social and political role for organic agriculture makes it more than just an organic
industry.
Many of the practices of organic agriculture were the only option for farmers before the advent of
chemically synthesized fertilizers, pesticides, biocides, medicines, mechanization and fossil fuels that
allow industrial agriculture to function. Without recourse to such technologies, farmers had no option
but to work within biological and ecological systems. Failing to rotate crops caused a build up of
pests, as there were no pesticides to control them. From this perspective, organic agriculture is the
original and mainstream agriculture and “conventional ‘industrial agriculture is the one that
departs from the practices that agriculture has been following since its inception.
The commonly used term ‘conventional agriculture’ refers to the standard, dominant farming
approaches practiced by farmers throughout the world. The term conventional masks the great
diversity of management strategies used; for example, a conventional farmer may use mineral
fertilizers but also use herbicides to control weeds. Usually conventional agriculture imposes no
restrictions on management other than those required by law.
Organic Perspective Changing with the Times
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After almost a century of development, organic agriculture has been embraced by the mainstream
and shows great promise commercially, socially and environmentally. While there is continuum of
thought from the earliest days to the present, the modern organic movement is radically different
from its original forms. It now has environmental sustainability at its core in addition to the founders
concerns for healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people.
Since the 1970s when organic agriculture re-emerged as an eco-agriculture, institutional
strengthening and diversity became a part of the movement. Formation of IFOAM in 1972 indicated
that the movement has come of age and that it is going to grow and make a place for itself in over all
world of agriculture. Explosive growth of organic agriculture has occurred only since 1990s.
DISTINCTION FROM OTHER FARMING SYSTEMS
Traditional Farming Systems
Agro-chemicals have been used on a large scale only since the 1960’s. Therefore, farming
communities which have not been influenced by the so-called “Green Revolution” automatically
meet the most important criteria of organic agriculture, i.e. the non-use of any chemical fertilizers,
pesticides and genetically modified organisms. These agricultural systems are referred to as
“Traditional Farming”.
In many countries, the population density increased tremendously and many traditional farming
systems have been unable to meet the yield expectations of the farmers. Due to reduced fallow
periods, overgrazing or exploitative cultivation, many traditionally farmed areas face severe
degradation. At the same time, higher yielding crop varieties have been introduced which are more
prone to diseases. Organic farming tries to meet the increased needs of the growing population while
not risking the long-term productivity of the farmland.
Many methods and techniques of organic agriculture have originated from various traditional farming
systems all over the world. However, not all traditional systems make use of these methods,
sometimes for the simple reason that they are not known in a specific region. In addition, organic
farming disposes of a range of rather modern technologies such as the design of intensive orchards,
use of antagonistic microbes in pest management, high yielding but disease resistant varieties or the
use of highly efficient green manure plants.
Whether a certain traditional farming system can be called organic will depend on whether all the
organic standards are fulfilled. For instance, some traditional systems are in conflict with the
requirements of organic animal husbandry (e.g. sufficient space and free movement), the necessary
prevention of soil erosion, the ban on cutting forests and burning biomass (e.g. slash and burn
systems).
“Sustainable” Agriculture
As the negative environmental impact of green revolution in agriculture became more and more
obvious, sustainability in agriculture became a widely accepted objective. Sustainable kinds of
agriculture claim to be environmentally sound, resource-conserving, economically viable, socially
supportive and commercially competitive. As far as goals are concerned, sustainable agriculture
therefore has much in common with organic agriculture.
However, there is no general agreement to what extent sustainability must be achieved and which
methods and inputs can be accepted. Therefore, systems which do use chemical fertilizers,
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pesticides or genetically modified organisms are classified as sustainable. Integrated Production
(IP) or Integrated Pest Management (IPM), for example, only avoids certain highly toxic pesticides
and reduces the application of others to a certain extent. Systems such as Low External Input
(Sustainable) Agriculture (LEIA or LEISA) or eco-farming partially renounce the use of
agrochemicals. They seek to optimize the use of locally available resources by interlinking the
components of the farm system so that they complement each other and have the greatest possible
synergistic effect. External inputs shall only be used to provide elements that are deficient in the
ecosystem and to enhance available biological, physical and human resources. It is not always
possible to draw a clear line between different systems. There are sustainable agriculture systems
that are also organic, and there are even organic farms which are not really sustainable, though they
fulfill the minimum requirements of the standards.
Integrated Production (IP)
Integrated Production (IP) has gained importance over the last few years, especially in economies of
transition and in industrialized countries. It does not refrain from using agro-chemicals, but aims at
a reduction of its application. For plant protection, a combination of bio-control methods and
chemical pesticides is used (Integrated Pest Management). If damage by pest or disease reaches
defined threshold levels, chemical pesticides are applied. For plant nutrition, chemical fertilizers can
be used, but usually maximum amounts are defined. Herbicides also are used. The regulations on IP
are not always very clear and vary from country to country, if formulated at all. A few countries have
developed labels and a control system for integrated production. In some countries integrated systems
are called “green production”. Above all, integrated production follows the same approach as
conventional agriculture, and is far from the holistic understanding of organic agriculture. However,
it can contribute to a healthier environment as it is easier for a large number of farmers to follow.
COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE OF ORGANIC AND CONVENTIONAL AGRICULTURE
While organic agriculture aims to be environmentally sustainable, it has not yet reached its goals and
there are issues that still need to be addressed. One such issue is about the yields. And the often asked
question is : Can organic agriculture feed the world? The appropriate answer may be - does
conventional agriculture successfully feed the world now? High input-high yielding systems are
currently failing to feed the world, not because of problems with productivity, but because of
problems with food distribution and social organization, and serious concerns such as poverty, racism
and gender imbalance.
Over the years researchers have been busy working out the comparisons between the two systems
for yield, economics, resource use efficiency, environmental impacts and social factors on diverse
range of farm types such as diaries, orchards and mixed farming systems. Several studies have
confirmed that organic agriculture is productive and sustainable. Some key findings from research
on yields suggest that;

• Yields equivalent to or better than conventional agriculture can be achieved under organic systems,
although it requires long term planning;
• Yields decrease during conversion period but then improve afterwards;
• Organic farms have higher soil biological activity and biodiversity;

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• Weeds can have major impact on yields and pests on specific crops, are problematic;
• Organic agriculture causes no/or very little pesticide contamination in food, people and the
environment; and
• The beneficial effects of organic agriculture in food quality are appealing but are yet to be
authenticated.

Organic agriculture aims at a sustainable production system based on natural processes. Key
characteristics are that organic agriculture:

• relies primarily on local, renewable resources;


• makes efficient use of solar energy and the production potential of biological systems;
• maintains the fertility of the soil;
• maximises recycling of plant nutrients and organic matter;
• does not use organisms or substances foreign to nature (e.g. GMOs, chemical fertilisers or
pesticides)
There have been demurs and doubts on the practicability of organic farming on the ground that the
production would plummet and the country would once again be forced to yet another food crisis.
This is quite unfounded. Success stories on high productivity of organic farming are now abundant.
The Food and Agriculture Organization reports at the International Conference on Organic
Agriculture and Food Security 2007 as follows: "Conversion of global agriculture to organic
management, without converting wild lands to agriculture and using N-fertilizers, would result in a
global agricultural supply of 2640 to 4380 kcal/person/day. Sustainable intensification in developing
countries through organic practices would increase production by 56 per cent. Organic yields on
average are comparable to conventional yields; although yields do decline initially when converting
from high-input systems and almost double when converting from low-input systems". It also has
found that organic farms use 33 to 56 per cent less energy per ha than conventional farms.
EVOLUTION OF ORGANIC FARMING IN KERALA
Pesticides have been in use in agriculture since Second World War and from the very beginning there
have been concerns about the commercialization of chemical pesticides. Rachel Carson’s, "Silent
Spring" published in 1964 brought out the scientific certainties of the impacts of pesticides on
environment. Although DDT was banned in the developed world in the 1970’s, and its use in the
agriculture fields of developing countries later, varieties of toxic pesticides found their way into the
farms .The scientific predictions of Rachel Carson became true and the public, especially farmers
and scientists, the world over realised the dangers of pesticides. This led to the beginning of non-
chemical farming. Researches and trials of traditional methods and also new models of soil and crop
management began to appear. For the last 4-5 decades scientists have been trying to find out a
sustainable agricultural system. One of the prominent personalities among them was Sir. Albert
Howard, the Advisor for Agriculture in India from 1905 to 1924. "An Agricultural Testament",

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written by him, is considered to be the first authentic book on organic farming in India. "Indoor
method" in organic composting was also worked out first by him.
The permaculture (permanent agriculture) experiments of Bill Mollison and Holmen in the 1970’s
gave hope to many farmers the world over. The permaculture wave had its impact in Kerala too and
since then many farmers have started experimenting this methodology and they found that this is one
of the best practices for Kerala with its topographical peculiarities and high rainfall so as to conserve
soil and water and improve productivity of their farms. In a report submitted in 1983 to the
Department of Agriculture of the United States, Robert Papendick and James Parr, agriculture
scientists of the same department, had emphasised the crucial need for focussing research on
sustainable agriculture to replace the farming systems being followed using chemical pesticides and
fertilizers.
The infamous Bhopal tragedy of 1984 was an eye opener to a larger section of people in India and
abroad. Discussion on alternatives began seriously. Publication of the book "One Straw Revolution"
in 1984 by Masanobu Fukuoka (a Japanese scientist turned farmer), on his success in natural farming
for the last half a century and, translation of his book into Malayalam in 1985 were timely in
channelising such discussions in Kerala. Biodynamic farming was another method of organic farming
which attracted many farmers. The very sustainability of agriculture assumed serious concern in the
discussions among the farmers and organizations in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu,
Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab and Kerala during the same period. The total external dependence of
farmers for agriculture inputs had started affecting their economies leading to desperation among
farming communities and ultimately to agrarian crisis. As an alternative, to make farming
sustainable, Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture (LEISA) thus gained momentum in many
places, especially sustainable among small and marginal farmers. The agriculture crisis that began in
the late 1990s further strengthened this movement. Many individuals and organizations started
interacting with farmers to make them understand the problems of the modern agriculture.
Thus, from a simple beginning, organic farming later matured to such dimensions as women’s
empowerment, seed conservation, development of seed banks, value addition and,more importantly,
food and nutritional security. It took only 10-15 years for this transition and the results are
encouraging.
IMPORTANCE OF ORGANIC FARMING IN INDIA
Organic farming system in India is not new and is being followed from ancient time. It is a method
of farming system which primarily aimed at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way, as
to keep the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes,
aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (biofertilizers) to
release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable production in an eco friendly pollution free
environment.
Legally, Organic farming was started in India in year 2001 with launch of National Programme on
Organic Production (NPOP) by APEDA for export of organic food. The Ministry of Agriculture also
took initiative in this direction and launched National Project on Organic Farming through
National/Regional Centres of Organic Farming in the year 2004 to promote the Organic Farming and
establishment of Organic Inputs Production Units. Subsequently some organic fertilizers and
biofertiliser were also brought under the purview of Food Control Order 1985 to ensure that the
quality organic inputs. The NPOP has witnessed a rapid growth rate over the years.

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India, only 30% of total cultivable area is covered with fertilizers where irrigation facilities are
available and in the remaining 70% of arable land, which is mainly rain fed, negligible amount of
fertilizers is being used. Farmers’ in these areas often use organic manure as a source of nutrients
that are readily available either in their own farm or in their locality With the sizable acreage under
naturally organic/default organic cultivation, India has tremendous potential to grow crops
organically and emerge as a major supplier of organic products in the world’s organic market. The
report of the Task Force on Organic Farming appointed by the Government of India also observed
that in vast areas of the country, where limited amount of chemicals issued and have low productivity,
could be exploited as potential areas for organic agriculture.
In India, there are three main types of farmers engaged in organic production:
Farmers who mostly follow the indigenous knowledge and technology developed over the past
thousands of years. They normally grow for their own consumption and have little surplus.
Farmers with small to medium sized holdings. These can be divided into two groups: those working
to revive the Vedic practices, coupled with Ayurvedic tradition of health system with scientific
exposition; and others who follow modern organic agriculture systems, like Steiner’s biodynamic
agriculture or Fukuoka’s “nature farming”, for example. They usually have market surplus and
sometimes export their goods.
Private companies that have responded by organizing large scale conversions to organic systems. By
going organic, they add more economic value to the crops, which are already cultivated in a manner
similar to organic systems. They are actively engaged in promoting organic agriculture for export.
India produces primary organic products and processed foods, are limited. Organic products grown
in various agro climatic zones are coffee, teas, spices, fruits, vegetables and cereals as well as honey
and cotton. Organic animal husbandry, poultry, and fisheries do not exist. Domestic organic markets
and consumer awareness are underdeveloped in India, but interest is growing. On the domestic
market, organic food is usually sold directly from the farmer or through specialized shops and
restaurants. At present, a price premium of about 20-30%over conventional products can be received.
India is an exporting country and does not import any organic products. The main market for exported
products is the European Union.Another growing market is the USA.
It is estimated that around 700 MT of agricultural wastes available in the country every year, but
most of it is not properly used. This implies a theoretical availability of 5 tonnes of organic
manure/hectare arable land/year, which is equivalent to about 100 kg NPK/ha/yr. However, in reality,
only a fraction of this is available for actual field application. There are several alternatives for supply
of soil nutrients from organic sources like vermicompost, biofertilizers, etc. Technologies have been
developed to produce large quantities of nutrient-rich manure/compost. There are specific
biofertilizers for different crops that offer a great scope to further reduce the gap between nutrient
demand and supply.
Considering the above-cited facts, one has to be very rational and consider the use of organic sources
alone only in cases where there are most economical and the produce needs to be of very high
standards from health point of view. In India context, Organic Farming can be more profitable under
the following situations, where instead of quantity, quality is more important.
Fruits and vegetable crops where use of higher doses of chemical fertilizers (especially N may lead
to higher NO3 content) and imbalanced nutrition of crops. Plantation crops like tea, coffee, cashew
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nut etc where the nutrient removal is less and recycling of these through leaf fall is high. Other
horticultural crops having high export potential in International markets like spices. Local varieties
of different crops having high quality and export potentials. Neem, dried nuts, oilseeds, pulses,
cottons, basmati rice etc with export potentials. Soils having high fixation capacity of the nutrients
like the calcareous, acidic & alkali soils

NATIONAL PROGRAMME FOR ORGANIC PRODUCTION (NPOP)


Organic products are grown under a system of agriculture without the use of chemical fertilizers and
pesticides with an environmentally and socially responsible approach. This is a method of farming
that works at grass root level preserving the reproductive and regenerative capacity of the soil, good
plant nutrition, and sound soil management, produces nutritious food rich in vitality which has
resistance to diseases.
India is bestowed with lot of potential to produce all varieties of organic products due to its various
agro climatic regions. In several parts of the country, the inherited tradition of organic farming is an
added advantage. This holds promise for the organic producers to tap the market which is growing
steadily in the domestic market related to the export market.
As per the available statistics, India’s rank in terms of World’s Organic Agricultural land was 15 as
per 2013 data (Source FIBL* & IFOAM Year Book 2015). The total area under organic certification
is 5.71million Hectare (2015-16). This includes 26% cultivable area with 1.49 million Hectare and
rest 74% (4.22 million Hectare) forest and wild area for collection of minor forest produces.
* Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)
The Government of India has implemented the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP).
The national programme involves the accreditation programme for Certification Bodies, standards
for organic production, promotion of organic farming etc. The NPOP standards for production and
accreditation system have been recognized by European Commission and Switzerland for
unprocessed plant products as equivalent to their country standards. Similarly, USDA has recognized
NPOP conformity assessment procedures of accreditation as equivalent to that of US. With these
recognitions, Indian organic products duly certified by the accredited certification bodies of India are
accepted by the importing countries.
PRODUCTION
India produced around 1.35 million MT (2015-16) of certified organic products which includes all
varieties of food products namely Sugarcane, Oil Seeds, Cereals & Millets, Cotton, Pulses,
Medicinal Plants, Tea, Fruits, Spices, Dry Fruits, Vegetables, Coffee etc. . The production is not
limited to the edible sector but also produces organic cotton fiber, functional food products etc.
Among all the states, Madhya Pradesh has covered largest area under organic certification followed
by Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.
EXPORTS

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The total volume of export during 2015-16 was 263687 MT. The organic food export realization was
around 298 million USD. Organic products are exported to European Union, US, Canada,
Switzerland, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asian countries, Middle East, South Africa
etc.
Oil seeds (50%) lead among the products exported followed by Processed food products (25%),
Cereals & Millets (17%), Tea (2%), Pulses (2%), Spices (1%), Dry fruits (1%), and others.
CURRENT SITUATION IN KERALA
Currently there are a number of certified organic farmers in the state, those cultivating cash crops
such as spices, tea, and coffee, mainly targeting export market and also noncertified organic farmers
who focus on food crops and biodiversity. All of them, whether certified or not, focus clearly on soil
health improvement. Kerala also has an accredited organic certifying agency catering to the needs of
the farmers.
Some of the farming systems such as Pokkali and Kaipad cultivation, cultivation of Jeerakasala and
Gandhakasala varieties of paddy in Wayanad and, homestead farming systems all over the state are
default organic. Studies have established the economic viability and productivity of homestead farms
in the State and elsewhere. Recently the Adat panchayath in Thrissur district has started organic
cultivation of rice in an area of 2,500 acres, promoting integrated farming system, which is known
as Adat model. Similarly Marappanmoola in Wayanad has another model organic farming system
involving hundreds of farmers.
There is a rich potential for promoting organic farming in Kerala in the light that intensity of
inorganic agriculture here is not that severe compared to that in other States in the country. While the
national average consumption of fertilizers and pesticides during 2002-2003 was 90kg/ha and
288g/ha respectively, it was only 60kg/ha and 224g/ha respectively in Kerala. This points to the
positive side of agriculture in Kerala in terms of the already low levels of consumption of hazardous
chemicals and, therefore, chances of redeeming farmers to organic agriculture are quite high.
Realising the ground realities, the State Department of Agriculture commenced organic farming
promotional activities since 2002-03. In the following year, the Department set up a cell for
Promotion of Sustainable Agriculture and Organic Farming. It has also launched two brands, namely
‘Kerala Organic’ and ‘Kerala Naturals’ to market organic farm produces.
Currently, about 7,000 farmers practice organic farming in the State as per NPOP standards, covering
a total area of 5750 ha. But non-certified organic cultivation area, assessments of which have not
been done, is expected to be much more than this.
PRINCIPLES OF ORGANIC FARMING
To understand the motivation of organic farmers, the practices they use and what they want to
achieve, it is important to understand the guiding principles of organic agriculture. These principles
encompass the fundamental goals and caveats that are considered important for producing high
quality food, fibre and other goods in an environmentally sustainable way. The principles of organic
agriculture have changed with the evolution of the movement and are now codified. The principles
apply to agriculture in the broadest sense, including the way people tend soils, water, plants and
animals in order to produce, prepare and distribute food and other goods. They concern the way
people interact with living landscapes, relate to one another and shape the legacy of future
generations. The principles of organic agriculture serve to inspire the organic movement in its full
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diversity. They are the roots from which organic agriculture grows and develops. They express the
contribution that organic agriculture can make to the world and a vision to improve all agriculture in
a global context. The Principles of Organic Agriculture serve to inspire the organic movement in its
full diversity.
The International Federation for Organic Agriculture Movement’s (IFOAM) definition of Organic
agriculture is based on:
The principle of health
The principle of ecology
The principle of fairness and
The principle of care
Each principle is articulated through a statement followed by an explanation. The principles are to
be used as a whole. They are composed as ethical principles to inspire action.
Principle of health
Organic Agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and
planet as one and indivisible.
This principle points out that the health of individuals and communities cannot be separated
from the health of ecosystems - healthy soils produce healthy crops that foster the health of animals
and people.
Health is the wholeness and integrity of living systems. It is not simply the absence of illness,
but the maintenance of physical, mental, social and ecological well-being. Immunity, resilience and
regeneration are key characteristics of health.
The role of organic agriculture, whether in farming, processing, distribution, or consumption,
is to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms from the smallest in the soil to
human beings. In particular, organic agriculture is intended to produce high quality, nutritious food
that contributes to preventive health care and well-being. In view of this it should avoid the use of
fertilizers, pesticides, animal drugs and food additives that may have adverse health effects.
Principle of ecology
Organic Agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with
them, emulate them and help sustain them.
This principle roots organic agriculture within living ecological systems. It states that
production is to be based on ecological processes, and recycling. Nourishment and well-being are
achieved through the ecology of the specific production environment. For example, in the case of
crops this is the living soil; for animals it is the farm ecosystem; for fish and marine organisms, the
aquatic environment.
Organic farming, pastoral and wild harvest systems should fit the cycles and ecological
balances in nature. These cycles are universal but their operation is site-specific. Organic
management must be adapted to local conditions, ecology, culture and scale. Inputs should be

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reduced by reuse, recycling and efficient management of materials and energy in order to maintain
and improve environmental quality and conserve resources.
Organic agriculture should attain ecological balance through the design of farming systems,
establishment of habitats and maintenance of genetic and agricultural diversity. Those who produce,
process, trade, or consume organic products should protect and benefit the common environment
including landscapes, climate, habitats, biodiversity, air and water.
Principle of fairness
Organic Agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the
common environment and life opportunities.
Fairness is characterized by equity, respect, justice and stewardship of the shared world, both
among people and in their relations to other living beings.
This principle emphasizes that those involved in organic agriculture should conduct human
relationships in a manner that ensures fairness at all levels and to all parties - farmers, workers,
processors, distributors, traders and consumers. Organic agriculture should provide everyone
involved with a good quality of life, and contribute to food sovereignty and reduction of poverty. It
aims to produce a sufficient supply of good quality food and other products.
This principle insists that animals should be provided with the conditions and opportunities of life
that accord with their physiology, natural behavior and well-being.
Natural and environmental resources that are used for production and consumption should be
managed in a way that is socially and ecologically just and should be held in trust for future
generations. Fairness requires systems of production, distribution and trade that are open and
equitable and account for real environmental and social costs.
Principle of care
Organic Agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect
the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.
Organic agriculture is a living and dynamic system that responds to internal and external
demands and conditions. Practitioners of organic agriculture can enhance efficiency and increase
productivity, but this should not be at the risk of jeopardizing health and well-being. Consequently,
new technologies need to be assessed and existing methods reviewed. Given the incomplete
understanding of ecosystems and agriculture, care must be taken.
This principle states that precaution and responsibility are the key concerns in management,
development and technology choices in organic agriculture. Science is necessary to ensure that
organic agriculture is healthy, safe and ecologically sound. However, scientific knowledge alone is
not sufficient. Practical experience, accumulated wisdom and traditional and indigenous knowledge
offer valid solutions, tested by time. Organic agriculture should prevent significant risks by adopting
appropriate technologies and rejecting unpredictable ones, such as genetic engineering. Decisions
should reflect the values and needs of all who might be affected, through transparent and participatory
processes.
Basic concept of Organic Farming:
The basic concepts behind Organic farming are:
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1. It concentrates on building up the biological fertility of the soil so that the crops take
the nutrients they need from the steady turnover within the soil nutrients produced in this way are
released in harmony with the needs of the plants.
2. Control of pests, diseases, and weeds is achieved largely by the development of an
ecological balance within the system and by the use of bio-pesticides and various cultural techniques
such as crop rotation, mixed cropping, and cultivation.
3. Organic farmers recycle all wastes and manures within a farm but the export of the
products from the farm results in a steady drain of nutrients.
4. In a situation, where conservation of energy and resources is considered to be
important, community or country would make every effort to recycles to all urban and industrial
wastes back to agriculture and thus the system would be only be a small inputs of new resources to
“top up” soil fertility.
Principles and Aims of Organic Farming
In a process of several decades, the international organic community, organized in the IFOAM
movement (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements), agreed on a common
understanding of what the principles of organic agriculture are. IFOAM clearly formulated the
minimum requirements in the “IFOAM Basic Standards”. These standards are based on a number of
principles that show that organic farming is much more than renouncing the use of agro-chemicals.
A System Approach
Conventional farming puts its focus on achieving maximum yields of a specific crop. It is based on
a rather simple understanding: crop yields are increased by nutrient inputs and are reduced through
pests, diseases and weeds – elements that must be combated. Organic agriculture is a holistic way of
farming: besides production of goods of high quality, an important aim is the conservation of the
natural resources fertile soil, clean water and rich biodiversity. The art of organic farming is to make
the best use of ecological principles and processes. Organic farmers can learn a great deal from
studying the interactions in natural ecosystems such as forests.
Agroforestry Systems
Trees and other plants take up nutrients from the soil and incorporate them in their biomass. The
nutrients go back to the soil when leaves fall or plants die. Part of the biomass is eaten by various
animals (including insects), and their excrements return the nutrients to the soil. In the soil, a huge
number of soil organisms are involved in the decomposition of organic material which makes
nutrients available to plant roots again. The dense root system of forest plants collects the released
nutrients almost completely. Forests host a high diversity of plant varieties of different size, root
systems and requirements. Animals are also part of the system. If one organism drops out, it is
immediately replaced by another one that fills the gap. Thus “space” light, water and nutrients are
used to the optimum. The result is a very stable system.
Recycling Nutrients
Organic nutrient management is based on biodegradable material, i.e. plant and animal residues.
Nutrient cycles are closed with the help of composting, mulching, green manuring, crop rotation etc.
Farm animals can play an important role in the nutrient cycle: their dung is of high value and its use

13
enables nutrients provided with the fodder to be recycled. If carefully managed, losses of nutrients
due to leaching, soil erosion and gasification can be reduced to the minimum. This reduces the
dependency on external inputs and helps to save costs. However, nutrients exported from the farm
with the sold produce need to be replaced.
Soil Fertility
Soil and its fertility constitute the center of the natural ecosystem. A more or less permanent soil
cover prevents soil erosion and helps build up soil fertility. The continuous supply of organic material
feeds a huge number of soil organisms and provides an ideal environment for them. As a result the
soil becomes soft and capable of taking up and storing large quantities of nutrients and water. Organic
farmers give central importance to the improvement of soil fertility. They stimulate the activity of
soil organisms with organic manures. Mulching and cover crops are used among other methods to
prevent soil erosion.
Crop Diversity
Organic farms grow several crops including, trees, either as mixed cropping or in rotation. Animals
are an integrated part of the farm system. The diversity of crops not only allows optimum use of the
resources but also serves as an economic security in case of pest or disease attack or low market
prices for certain crops.
Eco-balance and Bio-control
Pests and diseases do occur in natural ecosystems, but they rarely cause large-scale damage. Due to
diversity, it is difficult for them to spread. Many pests are controlled by other organisms such as
insects or birds, and plants usually can recover from an infestation on their own. Organic farmers try
to keep pests and diseases at a level which does not cause economic damage. The main focus is on
supporting the health and resistance of the crop. Beneficial insects are promoted by offering them a
habitat and food. If pests reach critical levels, natural enemies and herbal preparations are used.
Back to Nature?
Organic farming aims at following the laws of nature. Does this mean that organic farms must be as
close to natural systems as possible? Within the organic movement one will find farmers who focus
on natural farming, and others who take a purely commercial approach. The majority of organic
farmers probably lies somewhere in between these two extremes. Most farmers will expect sufficient
production from the farm to make a living. For them, the challenge is to follow the principles of
nature to achieve a high productivity.
Organic by Neglect?
In some areas, perennial plantations are farmed with low intensity by merely stopping any nutrient
supply or pest management while continuing to harvest the produce. While maintenance costs are as
such low, yields decrease after some time. Some of these neglected plantations achieved organic
certification as they fulfill the minimum criteria of the standards. However, it is rather doubtful
whether this approach offers a long term perspective for farmers. As organic farming seeks to
contribute to food security, organic by neglect is not the right strategy.
Sustainability Aims

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Organic agriculture claims to be sustainable. In the context of agriculture, sustainability refers to the
successful management of resources of agriculture to satisfy human needs while at the same time
maintaining or enhancing the quality of the environment and conserving natural resources.
Sustainability in organic farming must therefore be seen in a holistic sense, which includes
ecological, economical and social aspects. Only if the three dimensions are fulfilled, an agricultural
system can be called sustainable.
Ecological Sustainability
< recycling the nutrients instead of applying external inputs
< no chemical pollution of soil and water
< promote biological diversity
< improve soil fertility and build up humus
< prevent soil erosion and compaction
< animal friendly husbandry
< using renewable energies
Social Sustainability
< sufficient production for subsistence and income
< a safe nutrition of the family with healthy food
< good working conditions for both men and women
< building on local knowledge and traditions.
Economic Sustainability
< satisfactory and reliable yields
< low costs on external inputs and investments
< crop diversification to improve income safely
< value addition through quality improvement and on-farm processing
< high efficiency to improve competitiveness.
COMPONENTS OF ORGANIC FARMING
Major components of organic farming are crop rotation, maintenance and enhancement of soil
fertility through biological nitrogen fixation, addition of organic manure and use of soil
microorganisms, crop residues, bio-pesticide, biogas slurry, waste etc. Vermiculture has become a
major component in biological farming, which is found to be effective in enhancing the soil fertility
and producing large numbers of horticultural crops in a sustainable manner. The various
components of organic farming have been discussed in details below:
1. Crop rotation:

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It is a systematic arrangement for the growing of different crops in a more or loss regular sequence
on the same land covering a period of two years or more. The selection of optimal crop rotation is
important for successful sustainable agriculture. Crop rotation is very important. Soil fertility
management, weed, insect and disease control. Legumes are essential in any rotation and should 30
to 50 percent of the land. A mixed cropping, pasture and livestock system is desirable or even
essential for the success of sustainable agriculture.
2. Crop Residue:
In India there is a great potential for utilization of crop residues/ straw of some of the major cereals
and pulses. About 50% of the crop residues are utilized as animal fed, the rest could be very well
utilized for recycling of nutrients. Adequate care is required to use the residues after proper
composting with efficient microbial inoculants. While the incorporation of crop residues e.g. Wheat
and Rice straw, as such or inoculated with beneficial microbes had beneficial effects on crop yields
and important in physico chemical properties of soil.
3. Organic manure:
The organic manure is derived from biological sources like plant, animal and human residues.
Organic manure act in many ways in augmenting crop growth and soil productivity. The direct
effect of organic manure relates to the uptake of humic substances or its decomposition products
affecting favourably the growth and yield of plants. Indirectly, it augments the beneficial soil
microorganisms and their activities and thus increases the availability of major and minor plant
nutrients.
a) Bulky organic manure: It generally contains fewer amounts of plant nutrients as compared to
concentrated organic manure. It includes FYM, compost and Green manure.
 FYM: It refers to the well-decomposed mixture of dung, urine, farm litter and left over or
used up materials from roughages or fodder fed to the cattle. The waste material of cattle
shed consisting of dung and urine soaked in the refuse is collected and placed in trenches
about 6 m long, 2 m wide and 1 m deep. Each trench is filled up to a height of about 0.5 m
above the ground level and plastered over with slurry cowdung and earth. The material is
allowed to decompose undisturbed 3-4 months for anaerobic microorganism for completion
of fermentation. FYM becomes ready to apply after 3-4 months. Well-rotted FYM contains
0.5% N, 0.2% P205 and 0.5% K2O.
 Compost: Large quantities of waste material are available as vegetable refuse, farm litter,
such as weeds, stubble, bhusa, sugarcane trash, Sewage sludge and animal waste in houses
and in areas like human and industrial refuse; therefore, excreta can be converted into useful
compost manure by conserving and subjecting these to a controlled process of anaerobic
decomposition. Compost is used in the same way as FYM and is good for application to all
soils and all crops.
 Green Manuring: It is a practice of ploughing or turning into the soil under composed
green plant tissues for the purpose of improving physical structure as well as fertility of the
soil. From the time immemorial the turning in a green crop for improvement of the
conditions of the soil has been a popular farming practice. Green Manuring, wherever
feasible, is the principal supplementary means of adding organic matter to the soil. It
consists of the growing of quick growing crop and ploughing it under to incorporate it into
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the soil. The green manure crop supplies organic matter as well as additional nitrogen,
particularly if it is a legume crop, which has the ability to fix nitrogen from the air with the
help of its root-nodule bacteria. A leguminous crop producing 25 tones of green matter per
hectare will add about 60 to 90 kg of nitrogen when ploughed under. This amount would
equal an application of 3 to 10 tones of FYM on the basis of organic matter and its nitrogen
contribution. The green manure crops also exercise a protective action against erosion and
leaching. The most commonly used green manuring crops are: Sunhemp (Crotalaria
juncea), Dhaincha (Sesbania aculeata), Cluster bean (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba), Senji
(Melilotus parviflora), Cowpea (Vigna catjang, Vigna sinensis), Berseem (Trifolium
alexandrium).
b) Concentrated Organic Manure: Concentrated organic manures are those materials that are
organic in nature and contain higher percentage of essential plant nutrients such as nitrogen,
phosphorous and potash, as compared to bulky organic manures. These concentrated manures are
made from raw materials of animal or plant origin. The concentrated organic manures commonly
used are oilcakes, blood meal, fishmeal, meat meal and horn and hoof meal.
4. Waste:
1. Industrial waste: Among the industrial by products, spent wash from ditilisers and
molasses and pressmud from sugar industry have good manurial value. It is important to use
only well decomposed pressmud at 10 tones/ha. Addition of pressmud improves the soil
fertility and enhances the activity of microbes. Coir waste is the by-product from coir
industry and can be used as manure after proper decomposition.
2. Municipal and Sewage waste: It also forms an important component of organic waste. In
India, the total municipal refuse is about 12 mt/annum containing about 0.5% N, 0.3%
P2O5 and 0.3% K2O. Sewage sludge is available to an extent of 4 million tones per annum
containing 3% N, 2% P and 0.3% K. Sewage sludge particularly from industrialized cities is
contaminated with heavy metals and these pose hazards to plants, animals and human
beings. Separation of the toxic waste at the source will minimize the concentration of such
elements in the sludge.
5. Biofertilizers:
It has been observed that there is decline in crop yield due to continuous apply of inorganic
fertilizers. Therefore, increasing need is being felt to integrate nutrient supply with organic sources
to restore the health of soil. Bio-fertilizer offers an economically attractive and ecologically sound
means of reducing external inputs and improving the quality and quantity of internal sources. Bio-
fertilizer is microorganism's culture capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen when suitable crops are
inoculated with them. The main inputs are microorganisms, which are capable of mobilizing
nutritive elements from non-usable form to usable form through biological process. These are less
expensive, eco-friendly and sustainable. The beneficial microorganisms in the soil that are greater
significance to horticultural situations are biological nitrogen fixers, phosphate solubilisers and
mycorrhizal fungi.
The Biofertilizers containing biological nitrogen fixing organism are of utmost important in
agriculture in view of the following advantages:
 They help in establishment and growth of crop plants and trees.
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 They enhance biomass production and grain yields by 10-20%.
 They are useful in sustainable agriculture.
 They are suitable organic farming.
 They play an important role in Agroforestry / silvipastoral systems.
Types of Biofertilizers: There are two types of bio-fertilizers.
1. Symbiotic N-fixation: These are Rhizobium culture of various strains which multiply in roots of
suitable legumes and fix nitrogen symbiotically. Almost 50% demands of N are met by these
microorganisms in legumes.
 Rhizobium: It is the most widely used biofertilizers, which colonizes the roots of specific
legumes to form tumours like growths called rot nodules. It is these nodules that act as
factories of ammonia production. The Rhizobium legume association can fix upto 100-300
kg N/ha in one crop season.
2. Asymbiotic N-fixation: This includes Azotobacter, Azospirillium, BGA, Azolla and
Mycorrhizae, which also fixes atmospheric N in suitable soil medium. They grow on decomposing
soil organic matter and produce nitrogen compounds for their own growth and development,
besides that they leave behind a significant amount of N in surroundings.
 Azotobacter: Application of Azotobactor has been found to increase the yields of crops by
0-30% over control. The beneficial effect of Azotobactor biofertilizers on cereals, millets,
vegetables, cotton and sugarcane under both irrigated and rainfed field conditions have been
substantiated and documented. Apart from nitrogen this organism is also capable of
producing antibacterial and anti-fungal compounds and hormones.
 Azospirillium: It is an important bacterium, which colonize the root zones and fix nitrogen
in loose association with plants. Azospirillum applications increase gain productivity of
cereals by 5-20%, of millets by 30% and of fodder by over 50%.
 Blue Green Algae: The utilization of blue-green algae as biofertilizers for rice is very
promising. Recent researches have shown that algae also help to reduce soil alkalinity and
this opens up possibilities for bio-reclamation of such inhospitable environments.
 Azolla: A small floating fern, Azolla is commonly seen in low land fields and in shallow
fresh water bodies. This fern harbours blue-green algae, anabaena azollae. The Azolla
anabaena association is a live floating nitrogen factory using energy from photosynthesis to
fix atmospheric nitrogen amounting to 100-150 kg N/ha/year from about 40-64 tones of
biomass..
 Mycorrhizae: Mycorrhizae are the symbiotic association of fungi with roots of Vascular
plants. The main advantage of Mycorrhizae to the host plants lies in the extension of the
penetration zone of the root fungus system in the soil, facilitating an increased phosphorous
uptake. In many cases the Mycorrhizae have been shown to markedly improve the growth
of plants. In India, the beneficial effects of Vascular-arbuscular Mycorrhizae (VAM) have
been observed in fruit crops like citrus, papaya and litchi. Recent studies showed the
possibility of domesticating Mycorrhizae in agricultural system.

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6. Bio-pesticide:
Bio-pesticides are natural plant products that belong to the so-called secondary metabolites, which
include thousands of alkaloids, terpenoids, phenolics and minor secondary chemicals. These
substances have usually no known function in photosynthesis, growth or other basic aspects of
plant physiology; however, their biological activity against insects, nematodes, fungi and other
organisms is well documented.
Botanical insecticides are ecologically and environmentally safer generally affect the behaviour and
physiology of insects rather than killing them. Among the botanical pesticides investigated. Neem
(Azadirachta indica) has justifiably received the maximum attention. All parts of the Neem tree
possess insecticidal property but seed kernel is most active.
Biopesticides and other preparations of plant origin used in agriculture seem to have a good scope
especially in view of the environmental problems being faced with the synthetic agrochemical.
Some of the commonly used botanical Insecticides are Nicotine, Pyrethrum, Rotenone,etc. Their
used need to be promoted under the Integrated Pest management Programmes
OPPORTUNITIES AND CONSTRAINTS OF ORGANIC FARMING
A. MARKETS
The demand for organic products has created new export opportunities for the developing world.
While some consumers express a preference for locally-grown organic foods, the demand for a
variety of foods year-round makes it impossible for any country to source organic food entirely within
its own borders. As a result, many developing countries have begun to export organic products
successfully. Typically, organic exports are sold at impressive premiums, often at prices 20 percent
higher than identical products produced on non-organic farms. The ultimate profitability of organic
farm varies, however, and few studies have assessed the long-term potential for such market
premiums. Nevertheless, under the right circumstances the market returns from organic agriculture
can potentially contribute to local food security by increasing family incomes.
Entering this lucrative market is not easy, however. Farmers are denied access to developed country
organic markets for two to three years after beginning organic management since such countries will
not certify land and livestock as organic before that time, arguing that it is necessary for the purging
of chemical residues. Under the Draft Codex guidelines, however, products produced on land under
organic management for at least one year but less than the two-three year standard can be sold as
"transitional organic", although few markets have yet developed for such products.
In most cases farmers and post-harvest businesses seeking to sell their products in developed
countries must hire an organic certification organization to annually inspect and confirm that these
farms and businesses adhere to the organic standards established by various trading partners. The
cost for this service can be expensive, although it varies in relation to farm size, volume of production,
and the efficiency of the certification organization (e.g. IFOAM recommends that certification costs
a maximum of 5 percent of sales value, but where local certification organizations exist it is estimated
that costs can be reduced to 2 percent of sales value). Few developing countries have certification
organizations within their borders, and even when sufficient resources are available to pay for
certification farmers often lack the information to find credible inspectors.
While most developing country traders have focused on export markets in the developed world,
domestic market opportunities for organic food or eco-food may also be exploited. In China, for
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example, there is a growing market for "green food" which, according to government grading
standards, is produced without certain pesticides and fertilizers and with biological methods. Chinese
farmers also produce organic food for export (e.g. tea to the Netherlands, soybeans to Japan).
Whether the intent is to sell organic products domestically or abroad, reliable market information is
difficult to obtain. There is virtually no systematic production or market survey data being collected
with which to assess the rate and pattern of organic market growth. In particular, no projections for
the market in the developing world have been made, nor have markets systematically been identified
for developing country exports. Estimates of the public's willingness to pay premiums, the impact of
regional attitudes and tastes, and the incidence of market fraud have not been undertaken.
B. FARM PRODUCTIVITY
Farmers will probably experience some loss in yields when converting their operations to organic
production. There is a period of time between the discarding of synthetic inputs and sufficient
biological activity being restored to the land (e.g. growth in beneficial insect populations, nitrogen
fixation from legumes) during which pest suppression and fertility problems are typical. The degree
of yield loss varies, however, and depends on factors such as the inherent biological attributes of the
farm, farmer expertise, and the extent to which synthetic inputs were used under the previous
management system. Where soil fertility is low and biological processes have been seriously
disrupted, it may take years to restore the ecosystem to the point where organic production is possible.
In such cases other sustainable approaches, which allow judicious use of synthetic chemicals, may
be more suitable start-up solutions. One strategy to survive the difficult transition period involves
converting farms to organic production in partial instalments so that the entire operation is not at risk.
Most studies find that organic agriculture requires significantly greater labour input than
conventional farms. This is especially true in areas of low ecological potential. However, when labour
is not a constraint organic agriculture can benefit underemployed labour in rural communities.
Furthermore, the diversification of crops typically found on organic farms, with their various planting
and harvesting schedules, may distribute labour demand more evenly which could help stabilize
employment. Land tenure is also critical to the adoption of organic agriculture. It is highly unlikely
that tenant farmers would invest the necessary labour and sustain the difficult conversion period
without some guarantee of access to the land in later years when the benefits of organic production
are attainable.
Soil-building rotations need to be designed both from the economic and the technical points of view
- uses must be identified for all the crop and livestock products produced. As in all agricultural
systems, diversity in production increases income-generating opportunities and can, as in the case of
fruits, supply essential health protecting minerals and vitamins to the family diet. It also spreads the
risks of failure over a wide range of crops. It is possible that, even on those farms where organic crop
yields are lower than those produced under systems which use high levels of inputs, the overall
economic yields of the farm will be competitive since organic systems benefit from market premiums
and sometimes lowered input costs.
The insights generated by organic farmers in their search for site-specific production strategies can
be of great benefit to non-organic farmers interested in expanding their management options.
However, organic farmers still face huge uncertainties. A lack of information is an obstacle to organic
conversion . Extension personnel rarely receive adequate training in organic methods and studies
have shown that they sometimes discourage farmers from converting. Furthermore, institutional
support in developing countries is scarce. Professional institutions with a capacity to assist farmers
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throughout the production, post-production and marketing processes are non-existent in many
developing countries. While there are helpful research results that immediately could be extended to
farmers, much more are needed. In 1990, FAO sponsored a conference at which organic research
needs were identified (e.g. economics of stockless farms, animal husbandry, nitrogen cycling);
however these challenges have largely gone unmet.
C. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS AND SUSTAINABILITY
The explicit goal of organic agriculture is to contribute to the enhancement of sustainability.
Nevertheless, negative impacts may occur and organic agriculture is not an exclusive method for
sustainable farming. The soil and water protection and conservation techniques of sustainable
agriculture used to combat erosion, compaction, salinization and other forms of degradation are
evident in organic farming. The use of crop rotations, organic manure and mulches improves soil
structure and encourages the development of a vigorous population of soil micro-organisms. Mixed
and relay cropping provide a more continuous soil cover and thus a shorter period when the soil is
fully exposed to the erosive power of the rain, wind and sun. Terracing to conserve moisture, and
soil are used in appropriate situations and particular attention is paid in irrigated areas to on-farm
water management. Properly managed organic farming reduces or eliminates water pollution and
helps conserve water and soil on the farm (although improper use of manure can seriously pollute
water). A few developed countries compel or subsidise farmers to use organic techniques as a solution
to water pollution problems (e.g. Germany, France).
Organic farmers rely on natural pest controls (e.g. biological control, plants with pest control
properties) rather than synthetic pesticides which, when misused, are known to kill beneficial
organisms (e.g. natural parasites of pests, bees, earthworms), cause pest resistance, and often pollute
water and land. Reduction in the use of toxic synthetic pesticides, which the World Health
Organization (WHO) estimates to poison three million people each year, should lead to improved
health of farm families.
Organic farmers aim to make the maximum use of the recyclable fertility in on-farm crop residues
(straws, stovers and other non-edible parts) either directly as compost and mulch or through livestock
as farmyard manure. Eliminating the use of synthetic nitrogenous fertilizer greatly lowers the risks
of nitrogen contamination of water. Crop rotation is a widely used method of fertility maintenance
and pest and disease control, which is used in large- and small-scale farming in both developed and
developing countries, especially under intensification. Fodder legumes are well-known fertility-
building crops and are grown on vast areas in sub-tropical Asia and in semi-arid regions for the dual
purpose of feeding livestock and adding nitrogen to the farm fertility cycle. Grain legumes may also
produce a reasonable crop without nitrogenous fertilizer. Leguminous crops in rotations add various
amounts of nitrogen to the overall farm system through biological fixation; other nitrogen-fixing
plants such as Azolla may also be used.
Biological nitrogen fixation is a powerful technique but it often requires some addition of minerals
to the soil, especially phosphorus. Most certification programmes restrict the use of mineral fertilizers
which may be necessary to supplement the organic manure produced on the farm. Natural and organic
fertilizers from outside the farm are used (e.g. rock phosphate, potash, guano, seaweed,
slaughterhouse by-products, ground limestone, seaweed, wood-ash). While most certification
programmes prohibit the use of sewage sludge and night-soil they are still used in some places.
However, sludge may contain many contaminants including heavy metals which can have a

21
deleterious and cumulative effect on the soil, while night-soil contains human pathogens and must
be carefully composted before use.
Crop rotations encourage a diversity of food crops, fodder and under-utilized plants; this, in addition
to improving overall farm production and fertility may assist the on-farm conservation of plant
genetic resources. Integrating livestock into the system adds income through organic meat, eggs and
dairy products, as well as draught animal power. Tree crops and on-farm forestry integrated into the
system provide shade and windbreaks while providing food, income, fuel and wood. Integrated agri-
aquaculture may also be found within diverse organic agricultural systems. Economic objectives are
not the only motivation of organic farmers; their intent is often to optimize land, animal, and plant
interactions, preserve natural nutrient and energy flows, and enhance biodiversity, all of which
contribute to the overall objective of sustainable agriculture to preserve natural resources and
ecosystems for future generations.
ORGANIC FARMING IN VEGETABLES
The vegetable crops have been well advocated in solving the problem of food security. They are rich
source of minerals, vitamins, fibre and contain a fair amount of protein as well as carbohydrates. In
addition to local market demand vegetables have the potential for both domestic and export market.
Although India is the second largest producer of vegetables next only to China in World, the
productivity of different vegetables in our country is comparatively lower than the World’s average
productivity. Again the per capita availability of vegetable (210g/head/day) is still behind the
recommended quantity (285g /head /day). Our demand by 2020 will be around 250 million tonnes.
Thus due to the rapid growth of the population with reduction in land, in order to feed the population,
the only solution is the vertical expansion or by increasing the productivity per unit area per unit time
as the potential available land and water resources and of technology still remain unexploited. Our
strategy should be produced more vegetables from less land, less water with less pesticides and with
less detrimental to soil and environment as well. Organic vegetable cultivation offers one of the most
sustainable farming systems with recurring benefits to only long-term soil health but provides a
lasting stability in production by importing better resistance against various biotic and abiotic
stresses.
Organic vegetables fetch a premium price of 10%- 50% over conventional products. Market of
organic products is growing at faster rate (20%) as compared to conventional ones (5%). This growth
rate is highest in Japan, USA, Australia and EU. Export preference of organic vegetables offers a
great scope to a country like India, which has inculcated the skill of growing organically since time
immemorial.
Importance of Organic Farming of Vegetable crops in India
1. Most of the vegetable crops are eaten fresh or used for health care; hence any contamination
(chemical residue) may lead to various kinds of health hazards
2. In India majority of the vegetable growers are poor, small and marginal farmers
3. Decrease in land productivity due to ever increasing use of chemical fertilizers
4. There are not many scientific breakthroughs in improving quality and production of vegetable crops

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5. The ever increasing cost of production in chemical farming including investments in manufacturing
fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation etc despite massive government subsidies is a major cause of
concern, which is very low in organic farming.
6. High environment pollution
7. Due to globalisation, which affects every industry, there is needed to be competent and compete with
the best in the World urges us to give the adequate weightages to Organic Farming of vegetable
crops.
8. Organic Farming of vegetable crops generates income through International exports or by saving
production costs.
9. Organic Farming also able to secure a place of India on International markets by producing high
value vegetable crops.
10. Excessive use of chemical fertilizers as well as pesticides not only increases the cost of production
but also poses threat to the environment quality, ecological stability and sustainability of production.
We have gained quantity but at expense of quality.
11. In developing countries like India, especially in low input traditional system, properly managed
organic farming system can increase the crop productivity and restore the natural base.

12. The decision to go for Organic Farming seems partly financial, partly out of concern for the
environment and partly because it made sense to threat the land and animal as well without chemicals.

Objectives of Organic Farming in Vegetable crops

1. To produce food of high nutritional quality in sufficient quantity


2. To encourage biological cycles within farming systems by involving the use of microorganisms, soil
flora & fauna, plants and animals
3. To maintain and increase the long term fertility of soil and biodiversity
4. To use renewable resources in locally organized production systems
5. To work with a close system with regard to organic matter and nutrient elements
6. To avoid all forms of pollution that may results from Agricultural techniques

OPPORTUNITIES AND CONSTRAINTS OF ORGANIC FARMING IN VEGETABLES


The future success of organic vegetable production would largely depend upon size of the farm and
supplies of non-chemical inputs, which have to be thoroughly backed up by well- proven package of
practices addressing to the objectives of producing vegetable organically. These organic farming
practices have to be turn to change in traditional concept of farming. The following issues and their
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viable strategies are suggested to make organic vegetable production more vibrant, dynamic, and
responsive to changing consumer demand both locally and globally as well.
1. The research for Organic farming in vegetable crops must be on a system basis. It
must be integrated one and must not be looking at in isolation.
2. The task of research would be to produce technologies, which can not only increase
more food but also more jobs and more incomes. That means, research must aim at achieving
triple goal of more job, more incomes and more food.
3. The research for organic farming should be focused on developing technologies
which may attract the vegetable growers to adopt them, keeping in view of the requirements
of small holdings of resource poor small and marginal farmers
4. The research should be in a holistic manner with long-term evaluation of
different organic substrates
5. Identification of suitable cover crop and smother crop in a given cropping system
6. There should be strategy for monitoring of changes in groundwater quality with
references to heavy metal toxicity, besides nitrate pollution.
7. Identification of soil improving crops under major agro-climatic zone
8. Evaluation of soil conservation practices of disease management, change in the
habitat for beneficial insects and suitability of trap crops in organic culture and identification
of nematode repellant cover crops especially from various vegetable crops should be given
due emphasis
9. Development of techniques for modifying fertilizer recommendations for new crop
rotations using different cover crops and full proof technology for transformation of
traditionally used chemicals inputs farm into a successful organic farm.
10. Developing suitable varieties or hybrids for organic cultivation
11. Suitable packages of technologies are to be developed for organically grown
vegetables
12. Large scale multiplication of bio-fertilizers, vermicompost, bio-control
agents and distribution to the farmers at reasonable rates
13. There should be proper research efforts for production and
commercialization of bio- pesticides and extension services to educate the farmers to use them.
14. Organic foods are proved superior in terms of health and safety, but there is
no scientific evidence to prove their superiority in terms of taste and nutrition, as most of the
studies are often inconclusive. Therefore, strategy should be made for proper evaluation
of quality parameters and packaging of organic foods.
15. Efforts should be made to select suitable cropping systems or more
precisely, farming systems specific to those agro climatic zones having higher productivity
under Organic Farming. The Government should provide them adequate infrastructure
facilities to make the Organic Farming, a profitable enterprise.
16. There is need for marketing research for organically produce for export
potential. There should be proper planning for marketing of organically grown fruits,
vegetables and food grains that should help farmers to get a better price for their produce. This,
in turn, should motivate them to invest more in Organic Farming.
17. There should be incentives to the growers who produce organic vegetables
18. Extension scientists must develop strategy to create interest in small and
marginal farmers to adopt organic farming technologies for growing vegetable crops

Though Organic Farming is one of the best approach to get sustainability in the crop production,
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still some constraints are there in adoption of Organic Farming in full fledge under Indian
conditions. It is because of following reasons:
1. Organic farming is highly knowledge intensive farming. So one has to keep
pace with the dynamics of nature to increase the biological productivity of the soil.
2. There is no organized extension machinery to disseminate the proven
technologies and in many case the basic information itself is not available.
3. Reduction of yield in initial few years of conversion from pure chemical
farming to organic farming, once the farmers switch over to Organic Farming.
4. Organic inputs may be difficult to generate on the farm.
5. The organic produce may not find an early market as most of the vegetables
are perishable in nature
6. Shifting to pure organic farming is a very time consuming and laborious
methods.
7. Number of cattle households decreased gradually day by day, causing scarcity
of FYM.
8. Nutrient content is very low in organic sources. Varied nutrient content
in organic materials, so it becomes difficult to farmers to calculate the actual amount
of organic materials to be added in soil.
9. Collection and processing handling from wastes are most complicated.
10. Cattle dung, urine and farm wastes are to handle manually.
11. The consumer need protection, so the Certification and Inspection
programme have to be Nationwide
12. Exporting of organic produce calls for adhering to predetermined organic
standards, which should be confirmed to International Market demand also.
13. There is lacking of adequate research & development backup as well as
training in Organic Farming in India.
14. There is problem in availability, transportation, and application of biological
materials to meet the nutrient demand of the crops.
15. Biological pest control is very knowledge intensive.
16. Green manuring has also become uncommon as the farmers are more
interested to grow as many crops of economic importance as possible and it has become
difficult to have green manure crops in the crop sequences.
17. Green leaf manuring also has become limit due to over exploitation of shrubs and trees.
18. Lack of package of practices involving Organic-farming practices along with
cost benefit ratio of different crops.
19. Lack of farmer’s adoption without any financial help from government or other
development agencies because of chances of yield loss in initial years of adoption.

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