Organic farming is a system of farming that employs organic inputs for the cultivation of crops. Unlike conventional farming, organic farming does not make use of chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides for crop growth. Instead, it employs organic inputs such as animal manure and compost. This type of farming is practiced to produce non-poisonous and chemical-free food for consumers. At the same time, this type of farming ensures that the fertility of the soil is maintained.
Features of Organic Farming
The following are the major features of organic farming.
- Instead of chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides, it employs green manure and biological pest-control methods for the cultivation of crops and plantations.
- It uses farm inputs like animal dung and crop residues as nutrients for crops.
- It focuses on maintaining soil fertility and ecological balance.
Principles of Organic Farming
Organic farming is based on the following four broad principles.
- Principle of Health
- Principle of Ecology
- Principle of Fairness
- Principle of Care
Principle of health: The farming techniques used in organic farming and the crops produced should be such that the health of one and all is sustained. It is said that the health of human beings is directly linked to the health of the ecosystem. Organic farming protects the ecosystem. A healthy ecosystem enhances the health of human beings. Organic farming is known to produce healthy and nutritious food while simultaneously maintaining the ecosystem.
Principle of ecology: Organic farming is based on ecology, its processes, and cycles. Organic farming techniques should sustain the ecological balance. This implies that this type of farming should give due importance to the protection of the environment.
Principle of fairness: Organic farming should promote equity among human beings. It should provide healthy, nutritious, and good quality food for all. Moreover, the use of natural resources should be both socially and ecologically fair. Due importance must be given to the needs of not only the present generation but also the future generations.
Principle of care: This type of farming must accord the utmost importance to the care of the environment as well as of human beings. For instance, new techniques for enhancing productivity and efficiency must be developed, but they should not be at the cost of the health of the ecosystem and the overall well-being of individuals.
Organic Farming and Sustainable Development
Sustainable development is the process of development that aims at meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Traditional farming techniques such as the use of chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides harm the ecosystem. The harmful chemicals present in fertilizers and pesticides dissolve in water and penetrate the soil, thereby reducing its fertility. These chemicals also harm livestock.
Moreover, the crops grown with the aid of chemical fertilizers and pesticides pose serious health hazards. In contrast, organic farming relies on the use of organic inputs for crop cultivation. This type of farming practice produces toxic-free food for consumers while simultaneously maintaining the fertility of the soil. In this way, it helps maintain the ecological balance. In other words, this type of farming enables eco-friendly sustainable economic development.
Benefits of Organic Farming
The following is a detailed discussion of the benefits of organic farming.
Discards the use of chemicals: Unlike conventional farming, this type of farming does not make use of chemicals. The chemicals present in fertilizers and pesticides penetrate into the groundwater and raise its nitrate content. This causes health hazards and also pollutes the environment. So, this farming, by discarding the use of chemicals, is an environment-friendly method of farming.
Sustains soil fertility: The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides adversely affects soil fertility. Organic farming discards the use of chemicals and employs organic inputs instead. Therefore, the crops produced by this technique are toxic-free. At the same time, the fertility of the soil is maintained.
Healthier food: Organically grown crops have higher nutritional value than conventionally grown crops. Hence, food crops grown organically are healthier. This is why the demand for organically produced food has risen rapidly despite its higher price.
Inexpensive technology for small and marginal farmers: Small and marginal farmers constitute the bulk of the farming sector. Organic farming offers these farmers an inexpensive farming technique as it does not involve the use of expensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Less incidence of pests and diseases: As compared to conventional farms, organic farms are found to have lesser incidence of outbreaks of crop diseases and pests.
Organic Farming and India
India has tremendous potential in organic farming. Research suggests that nearly 70% of the land under cultivation in India is arable. Such type of land requires a negligible amount of chemical fertilizers for the cultivation of crops. Such land offers ample opportunities for organic farming. It involves labor-intensive techniques of production. India is a labor-abundant country.
Hence, India has a comparative advantage in this type of farming. Organically produced products have a higher demand not only within the country but also in foreign countries. By producing and exporting organic products, India can generate higher income for itself. If India realizes the potential of this farming, then it can become the largest supplier of organic food in the world.
Limitations of Organic Farming
Despite its benefits, organic farming does have certain shortcomings. In the initial years of This type of farming, Indian farmers faced the following disadvantages.
Lesser yield: This type of farming offers lesser yield than conventional farming. Therefore, the productivity of the former is lower than that of the latter.
Lacks initiative: The popularity of this type of farming depends on the awareness and willingness of farmers to adopt this system. Due to lower productivity, farmers lack the initiative to adopt this farming technique.
Inadequate infrastructure: This type of farming suffers from a lack of infrastructure with respect to its market reach. Thus, the problems of inadequate infrastructure and marketing need to be addressed to promote organic farming.
Financially infeasible for small farmers: As mentioned before, it offers a lesser yield than conventional farming. Hence, the former is not financially viable for small and marginal farmers.
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