Monday, September 14, 2009
Organic Farming in India
Organic farming is the practice of raising plants, especially fruits and vegetables, but ornamentals as well without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Awareness of the environmental damage and threats to health (pollution) caused by DDT, dieldrin, and other insecticides and by the excessive use of chemical fertilizers has fostered interest in organic gardening, particularly among home gardeners.
Organic gardeners use short-lived, biodegradable pest-killers or biological pest control and prefer manure for fertilizer. Organic farming on a large scale is both difficult and costly, but a small, steady market for organically grown, or "natural," foods supports a limited commercial effort.
India’s farmers are still mostly practicing organic methods. Organic fertilizer and natural pest control are the only tools available to most of these farmers, who have always lacked the financial resources to explore chemical solutions. But these farmers, whose produce is as organic as they come, cannot afford to pay the fees required to gain official certification.
As the international community adopts standards for organic agriculture, the challenges faced by farmers in the USA versus farmers in India in order to adapt are very different indeed. The danger is that the well-intentioned global move towards organic standards will make small organic farmers in countries like India, who have been never done anything but organic farming, no longer able to sell their crops.
Most of India’s farms are “organic by default.” The irony and difficulty of the new governmental push for organic agriculture is that 65% of the country’s cropped area is “organic by default,” according to a study by Rabo India. By this somewhat degrading term they mean that small farmers, located mostly in the Eastern and North-Eastern regions of the country, have no choice except to farm without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Though this is true in many cases, it is also true that a significant number of them have chosen to farm organically, as their forefathers have done for thousands of years.