Organic farming is the form of agriculture that
relies on techniques such as crop rotation , green manure , compost and biological pest
control. Organic farming uses fertilizers and pesticides but excludes or strictly limits the use of
manufactured (synthetic) fertilizers , pesticides, insecticides and fungicides.
Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by
the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), an international umbrella organization for organic farming organizations
established in 1972. IFOAM defines the overarching goal of organic farming as:
"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 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..."
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.
Organic Farming in India
India is bestowed with considerable potential for organic
farming due to prevailing trend of integrated farming systems of crops and live stocks, high bio-diversity on account of diverse agro-climatic
conditions and large number of small and marginal farmers. Besides, inherited tradition of low input agriculture in many parts of the
country, particularly in hilly and rain-fed areas too, is an added advantage and augurs well for the farmers to shift to organic
farming and tap the steadily growing domestic as well as overseas markets.
In rain-fed areas of the country, where usage of chemicals in agriculture is relatively low, there is vast scope for the promotion of
organic farming. In the intensively cultivated irrigated areas too, where usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is considerably high,
organic farming practices can help in arresting the decline of organic matter in soil. Application of organic manure and inter-cropping with
legume crops can improve the soil quality and future agricultural
productivity. In fact, future of sustainable development of agriculture, next to water, depends on preventing the decline in organic
matter in soil. Organic farming has an important role to play in ensuring sustainability of agriculture.
Growth of organic farming
According to one estimate, about 1.4 million producers are engaged in organic farming in 35 million hectares of agricultural land
worldwide. Almost two-thirds of the agricultural land under organic management is grass land. The cropped area constitutes 8.2 million
hectares which is a quarter of total organic agricultural land. Asia, Latin America and Australasia are important producers and exporters of
organic foods. Global sales of organic produce have reached $ 50.9 billion in 2008, doubling in value from $ 25 billion in 2003.
Consumer demand for organic products is mainly from North America and Europe.
In India, from 42,000 hectare under organic certification in 2003-04, organic agriculture has grown many-fold. As on March 2010, more
than 4.4 million hectare area was under organic certification in the country. For quality assurance, India has internationally acclaimed
certification process in place for export, import and domestic markets. The National Programme on Organic Production (NPOP) notified under
Foreign Trade Development and Regulation Act looks after the country’s export of certified organic produce. Certification of organic produce
under NPOP has already been granted equivalence by European Union and Sweden.
During 2008-09, India produced about 18.78 lakh tonnes of certified organic products. Out of this, nearly 54,000 tonne food items
worth Rs. 591 crore were exported. With more than 77,000 tonnes of organic cotton link production, India became the largest organic cotton
grower in the world a year ago.
Indian organic exports include cereals, pulses, honey, tea, spices, oil
seeds, fruits, vegetables, cotton fibre, cosmetics and body care products.
Government Support to Organic Farming
The Ministry of Agriculture is promoting organic farming in the country under these schemes: National Project on Organic Farming,
National Horticulture Mission, Technology Mission for North East and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. The National Project on Organic Farming
is being implemented since October 2004 through a National Centre of Organic Farming at Ghaziabad and six Regional Centres located at
Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Hissar, Imphal, Jabalpur, and Nagpur. The project supports organic input production infrastructure, technical
capacity building of stake holders, human resource development through training, statutory quality control of organic inputs, technology
development and dissemination, market development and awareness. Two new innovative components were added in the project
from the last financial year. These were:
1..Biological Soil Health Assessment
Traditionally, soil health is assessed through physio-chemical soil test and addressed
mainly through chemical nutrient supplementation. It is now proposed
to assess the soils also form biological health angle for making appropriate interventions to restore the fertility through organic and
2. PGS (Participatory Guarantee System) Certification
For quality assurance of organically grown crops so far the available
system is third party certification which is not only cumbersome but
also very costly. To address the issue, a new system is being introduced. In this method,
farmers in a group collectively pledge for
adopting organic farming, maintain necessary records and have inspection by each other. PGS will also serve as
preparation to third party certification and farmers can easily switch over from PGS to the other form of certification.
Under the National Horticulture Mission and Technology Mission for North East, assistance is provided @ 50 per cent of cost
subject to a maximum of Rs. 10,000 per hectare (upto 4 hectares per beneficiary) for organic horticulture cultivation. Assistance is also
provided for setting up vermi-compost units @ 50 per cent of cost upto Rs.30,000 per beneficiary. Assistance of Rs.5 lakh is provided to a
group of farmers covering an area of 50 hectares for organic farming certification.
Under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, States are being assisted for
area expansion of organic food crops, capacity building of farmers and organic input production.
Besides the efforts of Central Government, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland,
Sikkim, Mizoram and Uttarakhand have already drafted policies for promotion of
organic farming. Nagaland, Sikkim, Mizoram and Uttarakhand have decided to go 100 per cent organic in due course of time.
Network Project on Organic Farming
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) took an initiative during 10^th Plan in the form of Network Project on
Organic Farming to study productivity, profitability, sustainability, quality and input use efficiency of different crops and cropping systems
in different agro-ecological regions and to develop efficient crop and soil management options, and need-based cost effective new techniques for farm waste recycling.
The project came into existence in 2004 with main centre at project directorate for farming systems research, Modipuram. It
comprises 13 cooperating centres spread over 12 States. Based on results of past years, several significant achievements have been made
and good yields/profits have been achieved in many crops at some of the
centres under the organic farming system. Since these results are only indicative and need a mid-term and long-term validation, their response
to new environment would take some time to stabilise. The ICAR has continued the project during
11th Plan also with 13 centres and the budgetary provision of Rs.5.34 crore for five years
Satyamev Jayate Episode exposes the harmful and long-term effects of pesticides
June 24, 2012: Satyamev Jayate June 24, 2012 Episode exposes the harmful and long-term effects of pesticides.
The Green Revolution refers to phase when the country’s crop production increased exponentially with increased use of
fertilisers and irrigation. However the flipside of such a high yield has been the harmful effects that pesticides and fertilizers cause to
everything associated – humans, flora, fauna and the environment in general.
Harmful effects of pesticide was narrated by Dr Rashmi Sanghi, who has done a lot of research in this field, found
that the pesticide levels in breast milk samples were 400-800% higher than allowed levels. The show then visited a district in Kerala called
Kasargod which had been sprayed with 22 lakh tonnes of endosulphan between 1976 and 2000.
Dr Mohan Kumar recounted his tale of working in Kasargod. He noticed that an abnormally large number of people suffered from chronic
illnesses from a long time. He said that about 5000 people must have been affected. Children suffered from grievous malformations, cancers,
deformities, etc. He said that since the spraying stopped the number of cases have gone down. Dr S G Kabra pointed out that pesticides caused the destruction of folic
acid especially during pregnancy leads to stunted growth, mental diseases, etc. in unborn children.
Dr Vandana Shiva believed that the because of the pesticides, India has to import more crops because they
ruin the symbiotic relationship between the soil and plants. The show highlighted the efforts of the Sikkim government which is
committed to organic farming. Sikkim’s CM Pawan Kumar Chamling said that they were planning to go organic by 2015 knowing full well the long term
benefits of the process. The government has banned all chemicals and fertilizers and started educating farmers about organic farming.
The show then discussed how to get pesticides out of groceries. Soaking with water, rinsing and leeching, washing in brine, all help reduce chemicals.
The long term solution however is the implementation of a policy that will subsidise organic farmers. There are organic outlets but there is a
need to increase their numbers. The show ended by asking people whether they wanted the Centre and other state governments to follow
Sikkim’s example and aid farmers in adopting organic farming.
Global network for organic farming research announced at Rio+20
The Global Organic Research Network (IGORN), developed by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements,will showcase
organic science and farming practices, in an attempt to garner funding for establishing a series of research
centres in the developing world, and mainstreaming organic research and farming. The network will be launched in 2013.
The move follows the failure of the Organic Research Centres Alliance
(ORCA)- initiated in 2009 to establish an organic farming centre coordinated by the Consortium of International Agricultural Research
Centers (CGIAR), and to set up research centres across the developing world.
1. Ministry of Agriculture , Government of India
2. Definition of Organic Agriculture - IFOAM
3. USDA National Organic Program, Subpart G.
4. The Information Bulletin of the Organic Farming Research Foundation