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Introduction Organic Farming Final Report

Introduction Organic Farming Final Report

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Published by Shamshad Ahmad

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Published by: Shamshad Ahmad on Feb 15, 2012
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INTRODUCTION
Ever since Malthus, the sufficiency of the global food supply to feed the human populationhas been challenged. One side of the current debate claims that green-revolution methodinvolving high-yielding plant and animal varieties, mechanized tillage, synthetic fertilizersand biocides, and now transgenic crops²are essential in order to produce adequate food for the growing human population. Green revolution agriculture has been a stunningtechnological achievement. Even with the doubling of the human population in the past 40years, more than enough food has been produced to meet the caloric requirements for all of the world¶s people, if food were distributed more equitably. Yet Malthusian doubts remainabout the future. Indeed, given the projection of 9 to 10 billion people by 2050 and the globaltrends of increased meat consumption and decreasing grain harvests per capita, advocatesargue that a more intensified version of green-revolution agriculture represents our only hopeof feeding the world. Another side of the debate notes that these methods of food productionhave incurred substantial direct and indirect costs and may represent a Faustian bargain. heenvironmental price of green-revolution agriculture cause Adverse effects of modernagricultural practices not only on the farm but also on the health of all living things and thuson the environment have been well documented all over the world. Application of technology, particularly in terms of the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides all around ushas persuaded people to think aloud. Their negative effects on the environment aremanifested through soil erosion, water shortages, salination, soil contamination, geneticerosion, release of green house gases etc. Advocates on this side argue that more sustainablemethods of food production are essential over the long term. We seem to be pursuing a short-term solution that jeopardizes long-term environmental sustainability. A central issue is theassertion that Organic agriculture and the global food supply Organic farming is one of thewidely used methods, which are thought of as the best alternative to avoid the ill effects of chemical farming. There are several definitions of organic farming and the one given by theUS Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considered the most coherent and stringent. It isdefined as 'a system that is designed and maintained to produce agricultural products by theuse of methods and substances that maintain the integrity of organic agricultural productsuntil they reach the consumer. This is accomplished by using substances, to fulfill anyspecific fluctuation within the system so as to maintain long term soil biological activity,ensure effective peak management, recycle wastes to return nutrients to the land, provideattentive care for farm animals and handle the agricultural products without the use of extraneous synthetic additives or processing in accordance with the act and the regulations inthis part' Organic farming methods are continuously being developed by farmers, scientistsand concerned people all over the world. A central element of the organic farming approachis the efficient use of on-farm and local resources such as farmyard manure, indirect crop protection and local seed. Organic farming pursues a course of promoting the powers of self-regulation and resistance which plants and animals possess naturally.Organic farming pursues a course of promoting the powers of self-regulation and resistancewhich plants and animals possess naturally. Organic management relies on developing biological diversity in the field to disrupt habitat for pest organisms, and the purposeful
 
maintenance and replenishment of soil fertility. Organic farmers are not allowed to usesynthetic pesticides or fertilizers. (Organic Farming Research Foundation, 2005). Organicagriculture is not just for more affluent countries but is applied in every climatic region. In poorer countries especially, it can contribute to purposeful socio-economic and ecologicallysustainable development (Kilcher 2002, Mc Neely and Scherr 2002, Willer and Yussefi,2004.
Review of Literature
Howard's (1940) Agricultural Testament draws attention to the destruction of soil and dealswith the consequences of it. It suggests methods to restore and maintain the soil fertility. Thestudy contains a detailed deposition of the famous Indore method of maintaining soil health.The reasons and sources of the erosion of soil fertility and its effect on living things arediscussed. The criticism of the agriculture research and examples of how it had to be carriedout to protect soil and its productivity are discussed in detail.Bemwad Geier (1999) is of the opinion that there is no other farming method so clearlyregulated by standards and rules as organic agriculture. The organic movement has decadesof experience through practicing ecologically sound agriculture and also in establishinginspection and certification schemes to give the consumers the guarantee and confidence inactuality. Organic farming reduces external inputs and it is based on a holistic approach tofarming. He describes the worldwide success stories of organic farming based on the performance of important countries in the west. The magnitude of world trade in organicfarming products is also mentioned. To the question of whether the organic farming can feedthe world, he says that neither chemical nor organic farming systems can do it; but thefarmers can.Save and Sanghavi (1991) are of the view that after their intensive experiments with organicfarming and narrating the results to the informed, it is time that the governments and farmersare brought around. They firmly state that the economic profitability of organic farming can be proved. Four crops of banana grown by the natural way on the same farm by them arecompared with those produced by the conventional way. While the natural farm yielded18 kg of banana in the first round, the conventional one gave 25 kg. 30 kg was the yield at thesecond round on both the farms. However, on the third round, the natural farm gave 25 kg,the conventional one yielded only 20 kg. The results on the fourth round were stunning - the plants on the conventional farm died out; but the natural ones gave 15 kg on an average.Thus, the aggregate output was 88 kg on the natural farm and 75 kg on the conventional one.While, the natural banana commanded a price of Rs 2.50 per kg, the conventional one couldfetch only Rs 1.75 per kg. This has been the major reason for the substantial net profit (Rs154) earned from the cultivation of natural banana (conventional banana could get only a net profit of Rs 26.25). The expenses incurred were Rs 66 and Rs 105 for the natural andconventional bananas respectively. However, a stringent cost and return analysis representinga larger sample size will be necessary to draw meaningful conclusions. It should be born inmind that the output obtained from the natural banana farm was also because of theaccessibility to the inputs and expertise, which the authors happened to possess. Farmers placed in less advantageous positions may not derive such results. The price advantage to the
 
natural organic farming products will also taper off when the supply increases. Theenvironmental costs and returns have to be internalized and it is quite possible that theorganic farming will prove to be a far better alternative to the conventional one. However,these aspects will have to be built into a scientific and tight economic reasoning, amongothers.Kaushik (1997) analyses the issues and policy implications in the adoption of sustainableagriculture. The concept of trades off has a forceful role to play in organic farming both at theindividual and national decision making levels. Public vis-a-vis private benefits, current vis-a-vis future incomes, current consumption and future growths, etc. are very pertinent issues to be determined. The author also lists a host of other issues. While this study makes acontribution at the conceptual level, it has not attempted to answer the practical questions inthe minds of the farmers and other sections of the people.Sharma (2001) makes a case for organic farming as the most widely recognized alternativefarming system to the conventional one. The disadvantages of the latter are described indetail. Other alternatives in the form of biological farming, natural farming and permaculture are also described. The focus is on the organic farming, which is considered asthe best and thus is discussed extensively. The work is not addressing the relevant issues inthe adoption of organic farming on ground.Veeresh (1999) opines that both high technology and sustainable environment cannot gotogether. Organic farming is conceived as one of the alternatives to conventional agriculturein order to sustain production without seriously harming the environment and ecology.However, he says that in different countries organic farming is perceived differently. Whilein the advanced countries, its focus is on prevention of chemical contamination, we, incountries like India are concerned of the low soil productivity. Even the capacity to absorbfertilizers depends on the organic content of the soil. The principles of organic farming aremore scientific than those of the conventional. India's productivity of many crops is thelowest in the world in spite of the increase in the conventional input use. The decline in soilnutrients, particularly in areas where the chemical inputs are increasingly being used in theabsence of adequate organic matter is cited as a reason for low productivity. Doubts about theavailability of massive sources of organic inputs also exist. He advocates an advance toorganic farming at a reasonable pace and recommends conversion of only 70 per cent of thetotal cultivable area where unirrigated farming is in vogue. This 70 per cent supplies. only 40 per cent of our food production. While this analysis has several merits, it is more addressed tothe policy makers and less to the farmers.Sankaram Ayala (2001) is of the view that almost all benefits of high yielding varieties basedfarming accrue mostly in the short term and in the long term they cause adverse effects.There is an urgent need for a corrective action. The author rules out organic farming based onthe absolute exclusion of fertilizers and chemicals, not only for the present, but also in theforeseeable future. There ought to be an appropriate blend of conventional farming systemand its alternatives. The average yields under organic and conventional practices are almostthe same and the declining yield rate over time is slightly lower in organic farming. Theauthor also quotes a US aggregate economic model, which shows substantial decreased5aelds on the widespread adoption of organic farming. Decreased aggregate outputs,increased farm income and increased consumer prices are other results the model gives.

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