These new agricultural techniques, while beneficial in the short term, had serious longer term side effects such as soil compaction, erosion, and declines in overall soil fertility, along with health concerns about toxic chemicals entering the food supply.
Agridigitale met this saturday Tarang Vekariya and Deep Kumar, both from India, post graduation in Agriculture (Genetics and Plant Breeding) They hope to help the farmer all over the world.
In India, in 2016, the northern state of Sikkim achieved its goal of converting to 100% organic farming. Other states of India, including Kerala, Mizoram, Goa, Rajasthan, and Meghalaya, have also declared their intentions to shift to fully organic cultivation. Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare Minister of India, announced on 10th February 2016 the establishment of National Organic Farming Research Institute (NOFRI) at Gangtok, Sikkim during 87th Annual General Meeting of Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
Gujarat government has decided to set up country's first university focusing organic farming. The university will exclusively focus on organic farming and research. Gujarat is most suited for organic farming as a significant portion of agricultural land in the state is rain fed. A fund of ₹10 crores has been earmarked towards the university in the annual 2016-17 budget.
What is organic farming?
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 (i.e., 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 ecofriendly pollution free environment.
FAO suggested that “Organic agriculture is a unique production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity, and this is accomplished by using on-farm agronomic, biological and mechanical methods in exclusion of all synthetic off-farm inputs”.
Need of organic farming
With the increase in population our compulsion would be not only to stabilize agricultural production but to increase it further in sustainable manner. The scientists have realized that the ‘Green Revolution’ with high input use has reached a plateau and is now sustained with diminishing return of falling dividends. Thus, a natural balance needs to be maintained at all cost for existence of life and property. The obvious choice for that would be more relevant in the present era, when these agrochemicals which are produced from fossil fuel and are not renewable and are diminishing in availability. It may also cost heavily on our foreign exchange in future.
The key characteristics of organic farming include
- Protecting the long term fertility of soils by maintaining organic matter levels, encouraging soil biological activity, and careful mechanical intervention
- Providing crop nutrients indirectly using relatively insoluble nutrient sources which are made available to the plant by the action of soil micro-organisms
- Nitrogen self-sufficiency through the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation, as well as effective recycling of organic materials including crop residues and livestock manures
- Weed, disease and pest control relying primarily on crop rotations, natural predators, diversity, organic manuring, resistant varieties and limited (preferably minimal) thermal, biological and chemical intervention
- The extensive management of livestock, paying full regard to their evolutionary adaptations, behavioural needs and animal welfare issues with respect to nutrition, housing, health, breeding and rearing
- Careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the wider environment and the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats