We often hear a saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. This saying is now very controvercial as a single apple might have 42 pesticides residues. This claim is also justified by the United States Department of Agriculture. Although, artificial pesticides and fertilizers increase crop productivity, they cause a real damage to food quality. That’s why; the modern world has begun to focus on food quality not quantity, with a shift towards organic farming practices.
The National Organic Standards Board of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines organic farming as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of artificial inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, or enhance ecological harmony.” Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and improves health of agricultural ecosystem including biodiversity, biological cycles, and biological activity of soil. Organic fertilizers include animal and green manure, fish and bone meal, and compost. Its main purpose is to improve the health of plants, animals and humans.
In 1989, subsidies were given in several European countries, like Sweden, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Austria and Switzerland, to encourage conversion to organic farming, which changed 376,000 hectares of land by 10,000 farmers into organic farming. Pakistan is also adopting organic farming practices. Its objective are to develop less labour intensive, high yielding, better quality and healthy organic farming. It is also focused on reducing production cost. It is considered as a long-term solution to the problem caused by nitrate pollution. It is observed that organic agriculture in the beginnings shows lower yields than traditional cropping practices but in long term situation is different. As labour in Pakistan is very cheap, in long when organic agricultural methods have improved soil characteristics, soil fauna and established worm activity and large production of vermicast, the yields will definitely surpass the traditional methods.
Organic agriculture emphasizes the use of minimum quantity of pesticides, avoiding the use of non-renewable resources, avoiding polluting substances. It relays on practices like crop rotation, recycling, tiling and biological pest control. Organic agriculture promotes the use of crop residues, animal manure and green manure, to keep the land healthy. Using on-farm resources helps to minimize the energy and costs of production and transportation for the materials. Organic methods improve soil health, increase population of healthy worms, fungi and other soil organisms. Organic agriculture saves the land from losses due to erosion and soil degradation, improves soil fertility and enhances moisture conservation.
People’s buy food, not only keeping in mind the price, taste, but also focus on religious and dietary preferences. The organic food on the whole is full of nutrition and meets anatomical and physiological requirements of human. It also helps in safe availability of food after production, processing, packaging and trading within the environment and the social structures
In short, organic farming is based on fewer inputs, better market demands due to having environmental and social concerns. It also relays on local resources and technologies that provides farmer better independence and more control over their means of production.
by: Abeer Arshad