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ORAGANIC FARMING

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CONTENTS Page Introduction.. 1.Objective of this paper. 2. History of Farming. 3. Conventional Farming 4. Genetically Modified Genes 5. Organic farming 5.1 Organic Farming in Malaysia 5.2 Organic Farming in Asia 6. A Proposal on Farming. 7. Conclusion.. References

Introduction Organic farming is debatable issue and the arguments are inconclusive; with the current concern of world population growth, more work has to be done. Arguments on deteriorating ecosystem and health risks have to be relooked into. Thus, in this paper I have put the views on both organic farming and conventional farming. 1.Objective of this paper The objective of this paper is to discuss about organic farming at regional level as well as national particularly to our countrys need of food production. At this moment, the world is experiencing a growing risk of conflicts over food, energy and water. With reference to the world demography, the population rises each year by about 80 million. Most of the developed countries as well as developing countries like Malaysia are also facing environmental stress due to climate change, water scarcity and tighter oil supply. More and more countries are restricting their food export so as to maintain the food sustainability for their own citizens. These may lead Malaysia to food shortage as for instance, the recent cut down of food such flour and rice export to us. We do not want to be trapped in the famine like certain countries of this world which are in need of rich nations help for their survival. With the aim of the increase of food production in mind, most of the global nations have started to shift to conventional cultivation. Malaysia is no exceptional. However, not much thought is given to the consequences of not following the natural balance ecosystem and also to health risk in consuming conventionally produced food. Thus, this paper is also to enlighten the readers about organic farming and convention farming and their effects on human health. Besides that, to have choice to produce food without jeopardizing the ecosystem and our health.
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2. History of farming Food is one of the basic needs of living things besides air, water and shelter. Our ancestors were depending solely on the natural environment for their food; the natural fauna and flora provided them adequate supply for their survival. They led a nomadic life by moving around from one place to another in hunting animals and collecting food. Nomadic life did not last among our ancestors; Natural Food providers were depleting and moving in big groups made it difficult. They started their basic farming by fixing the place of staying for a longer period; they cultivated plots of land and planted for their needs and rearing domestic animals such as chickens, ducks and goats for self consumption. However, once the land did not provide adequate food due to soil fertility loss , they moved to another area to start all over again with their cultivation. This form of agriculture practice was commonly done throughout the world especially in tropical and sub-tropical areas. It became a way of life of the indigenous communities. This shifting cultivation is still commonly carried out in certain parts of our country especially in Sabah and Sarawak whereby the farmers who own a vast piece of land carry out this way of cultivation. This system is gradually changing due to global change. 3. Conventional Farming With the rapid population growth, countries have to find ways and means to increase food production, not only for their own citizens but also to help the poor nations where the land is not fertile to produce their own food crops or farm animals. Malaysia is not exceptional, its population is increasing rapidly. It is expected that the population will
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be 30 million by the year 2020. It is unavoidable for countries like Malaysia to increase the food production so that everyone will have enough food. Then, most of the countries especially the developed nations and then followed by the third world developing countries will join the race. From the original use of natural fertilizer obtained from animal waste and plant composite, the farmers shifted to modern farming whereby synthetic chemicals play a greater role in the food productions. 4. Genetically Modified Genes Countries started the use of high quality genetically modified breeds, modern technologies and synthetic chemicals to food production at micro as well macro level. For example, in Malaysia, agencies like MARDI, MPOB and research institutes produced quality cross-breeds in crops and livestock. No doubt, the result is very positive towards food increase, that is in quality as well as quantity. It produces faster yields with a low cost of labor. In Malaysia, institutions have successfully produced crops and animals of new species such as Durian D188, masmadu maize and paddy grains, selembu (cross-breed between a and a bull seladang); as a result the farmers may be able produce quality produce at faster, in quantity and at low labor cost. Genetically modified organisms contributes a great deal in the increases. Plants and animals which have been genetically modified and use of synthetic chemicals have its advantages, such as maturing faster, higher yields, with high resistance to pests and natural tolerant to insecticides. However, there are some drawbacks in consuming genetically modified food; it may contain unknown toxins which affect our health after a long period of

time. The large production of genetically modified foods may be misused for controlling the economy of underdeveloped countries. The pest resistant and herbicide tolerant traits of genetically modified crops may be transferred to weeds and these may have an adverse effect on the environment because the farmers may use more herbicides on the weed. Besides that, since some of the genetically modified crops associated with use of bacteria, it may effect the natural fertility of soil which is rich in beneficial bacteria like the nitrogen-fixing bacteria. In the long run this may cause soil degradation. Weighing on the contrasts and pros in conventional types farming, most countries are diverting themselves into organic farming. 5.Organic farming It is defined as use of natural material of biological or minerals origin for fertilizing the soil and combating plant pests and diseases. It is said to be a holistic approach to enhance soil health. Healthy soil equals healthy food; healthy food equals to healthy people. This basic concept leads many to change to organic farming. It is related to both crops and livestock. Most of the health-concerned and anti GM groups prefer to promote organic farming to modern agricultural to promote human, plant and soil sustainability in the long run. Various arguments had been forwarded and also suggestions had been put across for the pursuant of the crop and livestock to farmers. For example, it is recommended to use natural manure and composite and crop varieties (crop-rotation) to maintain natural health of soil. Efficient land management for agriculture involves the maintenance of soil fertility and prevention of soil erosion. With the natural composite available, the fertility of land can be maintained with some knowledge in crop rotation, cover crop, cash crops, contour farming and integrated farming.
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By practicing crop rotation different plants are planted after each harvest, on the same plot of land. This is because different plants absorb different nutrients from the different layer of soil. Leguminous plants can be included as one of the many crops used. This type of plants have the ability of increasing the amount of nitrates in the soil because of the bacteria in their roots. At the same time these legumes plants act as cover crops in between young plants especially in oil palm, rubber trees or big scale estates while waiting for the trees to mature. This helps to prevent soil erosion and makes the soil more fertile. On the other hand plants such as watermelons, sweet potatoes or tomatoes between the

young plants can supplement the income of the farmers while waiting for the rubber trees or oil palms to be productive. As we have discussed earlier, modern agriculture depends on high input of chemical fertilizer and pesticides for crop production. Although such technology-based agricultural practice has increased agricultural productivity and abundance, the resulting ecological and economical impacts have not always been positive. Environmental pollution and food safety due to chemical contamination have become a great concern worldwide. More and more countries are aware of the drawbacks in food production increase especially on the health risk and the sustainability of soil fertility. In order to cope with this problem, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) proposed "The World Food Summit Plan of Action (1999)" in recognition of the importance of developing alternative sustainable agriculture practices such as organic farming. The goal of the Action Plan was to reduce environmental degradation while creating income from the farming operation. Organic farming is an integrated farming system which involves both technical aspects (soil, agronomy, weed, and pest management) and economic aspects (input, output, and marketing) as well as human health.
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5.1. Organic Farming in Malaysia

In Malaysia more and more farmers are putting aside pesticides and harmful farming methods and taking up organic farming. Also, there are agricultural products of Malaysia which are denied to be sold in certain countries due to the abuse of chemicals. Realizing the importance chemical free products, Malaysian government is also educating and making it aware of the

importance of organic farming to domestic market as well as global market. It was informed that in the year 2007, 2,367 hectares were farmed organically, up from 131ha in 2001 when organic farming was formally introduced to the country.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said: "Malaysia has the potential to develop and tap into the massive global market for organic produce." He was speaking at the one-day National Organic Farming Seminar 2007.With the introduction of the Malaysia Organic farming Scheme (SOM) in 2004, standards have been set in accordance with the guidelines of the International Federation for Organic Agriculture Movement . To maintain the certification, the farmer has to sell produce as organic, the land must be farmed naturally for at least seven years. Besides that tests will be done to confirm there is no chemical residue in the soil before the certification is granted.

Managing director Lim Mok Lai said the 10-year-old organic farm produced about 30 tones of organic produce a month for domestic consumption. "But the supply of organic produce is still not enough to meet the growing demand for it," he said. It is due to the over-head cost of organic farming. Or is it due to poverty of the farmers ?

Lim said organic produce was more expensive because of the better care and environmentally friendly methods used for growing. Why does organic food cost more? Prices for organic foods reflect many of the same costs as conventional items in terms of growing, harvesting, transportation and storage. Organically produced foods must meet stricter regulations governing all of these steps, so the process is often more labor- and management-intensive, and farming tends to be on a smaller scale. There is also mounting evidence that if all the indirect costs of conventional food productioncleanup of polluted water, replacement of eroded soils, costs of health care for farmers and their workerswere factored into the price of food, organic foods would cost the same or, more likely, be cheaper. "Granted, consumers have to dig a bit deeper into their pockets for organic produce. But for healthier and safer food, it is worth it," he said.

There is an increasing public concern about environment and food safety, but only a few people really know about the relationship between food safety and organic farming. A recent survey made by the Center for Environment Technology and Development (CETD) indicated that there is lack of information on what constitutes organic farming and where to obtain organic products . There is very few organic training available for producers in Malaysia, and knowledge on organic farming comes from self learning. However, the CETD has lately been providing training on organic farming . There are only a few local organic farms (27 farms in 2001), including Malasiahey Penan Organic Farm, Premier Organic Produce Network of Organic Farms in Cameroon Highland and Sungkai, and the organic fruit plantation in Rompin. There is no official regulation and guideline available to monitor whether the products are really organically grown or not in Malaysia.

Organic products are sold directly from farms to dealers and consumers, and the market for organic food in Malaysia is still very small. Sixty percent of organic food in Malaysia is imported. Organic foods such as spaghetti, flour, beans, bread, cakes, and ice cream are mostly imported from the USA and UK. The import of organic foods from Australia has also increased. In the absence of an official organic regulation, dealers can use any name like "organic food," "natural food," or "safety food." In order to get real organic products, consumers buy organic vegetables directly from the farm where they can see the actual operation of the organic production. In view of this situation, the Malaysian government now requires that all imported organic food should carry a reliable label of "certified organic" by the exporting countries.

Who regulates the certified organic claims? The federal government has to set standards for the production, processing and certification of organic food in the Organic Food Production Act before its goes out of control. Such a board would be able to establish and to develop guidelines and procedures for the organic farmers to follow in producing organic food our national consumption and also to reduce the import of food.

Are all organic products completely free of pesticide residues? Certified organic products have been grown and handled according to strict standards without toxic and persistent chemical inputs. However, organic crops are inadvertently exposed to agricultural chemicals that are now pervasive in rain and ground water due to their overuse during the past fifty years is due to drift via wind and rain.

Organic industry is too small and still has a long way to go in Malaysia. Only fresh vegetables and fruits are produced organically in small quantities. However, farmers can use the abundant farm wastes (sugarcane bagasse, coconut shells, etc.) for composting to be used in
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organic farming. Given the expanding organic markets in Malaysia, which reflect the world trend on health food, the country must be able to develop its own system of organic production and marketing. Malaysian version of organic regulation and standards should be developed. Government should have a clear-cut policy to develop its organic industry to catch up with the global trend of organic production and marketing.

Chemical-free safe foods produced from organic farms are widely welcomed by consumers around the world today, especially in the western countries. Due to the great global market demand, production of organic foods has increased rapidly in the past decades. Organic production is also becoming a booming industry in Asia and Oceania. The area of organic farm in Japan increased to 5,083 hectares, which produced organic foods at a value of US$3.5 million in 2003. In Taiwan, the area of certified organic farm increased from 159.6 hectares in 1996 to 1,092.4 hectares in 2003. Australia has a total organic area of 10,500,000 hectares which is the largest in the world. In other Asian countries like China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, the area for organic farming is rising from year to year. There are strict organic certification laws in the US, EU, Australia and Japan, and each has its own official organic law which serves as the sole guideline for high quality organic production. Other Asian countries like China, India, Israel, Thailand and Taiwan have their own official versions of organic standards and rules, but have not yet been legislated into laws to include penalty for the violators. Other Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore do not have organic standards yet.

5.2 Organic Farming in Asia

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This paper aims to look into the present situation of global organic production and marketing, in general, and recent developments in organic farming in the Asian region, in particular, which includes Japan, China, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The Taiwan experience on organic production and marketing system is reviewed in more detail given the most recent available data. Positive and negative factors have to be studied by our national organization for efficient organic production and marketing strategies. 6.A Proposal on Farming In Malaysia, we have Research and Development (R&D) activities in food production carried out by the Malaysian Agricultural Research Institute (MARDI), Malaysian Oil Palm Board (MPOB), Muda Agricultural Development Authority (MADA), Fisheries Research Institute and Veterinary Research Institute of Malaysia (VRI). Besides that, institutes of higher learning like UPM and private institutes and organization are requested to give more emphasis on food production. Malaysia needs to improve food production and it has to be in quality as well in quantity without compromising on the natural ecosystem and human health. First and foremost of all is educating and guiding the farmers on the drawbacks and benefit in both conventional as well as organic farming. They have to be taught of the sustainability of soil conservation and the importance of consumers health in the long run. Besides, there is not much literatures on organic food available to the mass community in Malaysia. As we are aware, that organic food may cost more than that of conventionally produced due its cost of production, most of the consumers turn to the later. However, if they are informed
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of the benefits in long run; certainly, they may give a thought before buying chemically produced food at a lower price. Furthermore, these days more people are very concerned of their health. A well-informed society is a healthy society in every aspect. With knowledge of conventional type and organic farming, a farmer may have a better choice; there are technologies, ideas and innovative methods in both types of farming. With the present market demand locally and globally, the farmers can choose the best. The use of tractors and machinery increase the speed of food processing; for instance in paddy planting, there are machineries right from planting and harvesting which saves time and increases the produce. The research institutes need to improve their inventions with new and better machineries and producing a new and better quality breeds of crops and livestock. They also can come up with new ways to rehabilitate the soil and with new techniques of disease and pest control. On the optimum use of land and its efficient management, federal government has to come up better regulations like the Food Act 1983 and the Food Regulation 1985. These acts cover only the food processing and consumers rights. They do not touch on the food production at the grass-root level at farming and breeding. Stricter rules such certified organic food is very essential; these can increase the production for both local and global consumption. The various bodies like MARDI, MYOB, FRI and VRI should come out with ways to regulate the productions rather than the market to decide on the food production. Otherwise, it may be too late to reverse the confidence of the consumer market especially in developed countries. This could be one the reasons for the government to increase allocation in the recent budget. 7. Conclusion
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With the ever increasing food demand due to world population increase, we need to strike a balance between the two types, that is conventional type and organic farming, so we can fulfill the demand and not jeopardize human health. The markets in most countries are reported to be growing rapidly, as consumers are becoming more concerned with their health and also with the environment. The introduction of clearer regulations by the government on organic labels for organic products helps people to understand what organic food is. This contributes further to the growth in organic consumption by the consumers. Since Malaysia is reintroducing the green revolution , organic farming can be one of the main agendas. In this paper, I have given more emphasis to Malaysian organic farming with a comparison to other countries and have given my opinion to the readers to be aware of our present situation in farming.

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References 1. Newsweek July 2008 pg 91 2. Chong Kim Ying and Partners (2008) Selangor Malaysia. Hot SPM Science. Pelangi 3. Lau Hut Yee (2008) Petaling Jaya , Malaysia.Total Pro SPM Science, Sasbadi. 4. 2007 New Straits Times. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning 5. Organic Farming for Sustainable Agriculture in Asia with Special Reference to Taiwan Experience Sung-Ching Hsieh

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