Jagdish Chander Raina
Organic farming has received increasing attention around the world in recent times due to the growing awareness of the health risks of chemical farming. Consumers are awakening and asking themselves the question of ethics in promoting poisons in our food chain. They are willing to pay more for chemicals free, environmentally friendly and safe. Agricultural chemicals like pesticides, weedkillers, fertilizers, growth promoters, etc. affect our soil, water bodies, air, food and animals. Traces of these chemicals have been found in milk and even in breast milk. There is no doubt that our agricultural scenario has been completely changed with the use of modern technology, especially after the Green Revolution. The use of seeds of high yielding varieties coupled with increased use of chemical fertilizers and plant protection measures have undoubtedly increased our production but it seems that the quality of the products has deteriorated.
The demand and trend for organic products is expected to be more pronounced in the coming years. The prevalence of organic products is still concentrated in developed and wealthier countries. India is poised for faster growth with increasing domestic demand for organic products. The success of the organic movement in India depends on the growth of its own domestic markets. India has traditionally been a country of organic agriculture, but the growth of modern, input-intensive scientific agriculture has driven it to the wall. The indiscriminate use of chemical inputs in agriculture raises fears of contamination of food by agrochemicals. Consumers are concerned about the vegetables, fruits or foods they eat. International and national communities are increasingly aware of issues such as toxic agrochemical residues in food products and the associated health and environmental risks. This therefore led us to think about an alternative agriculture to produce food free from contaminants. Organic farming is one of the wide range of production methods that support the environment and limit the use of synthetic inputs.
Organic agriculture is defined as a âholistic management system that promotes and improves the health of the agrosystem linked to biodiversity, nutrient biocycles and microbial and biochemical activities of the soil. Organic farming emphasizes management practices involving a substantial use of organic and green fertilizers â. In its simplistic form, organic farming can be defined as a kind of diversified agriculture in which crops and livestock are managed through the use of integrated technologies, in preference to locally available resources. It places more emphasis on maximizing the yield potential of crops and livestock under a given set of agricultural conditions rather than maximization.
In another definition, FAO has suggested that âorganic agriculture is a unique production management system that promotes and improves the health of agro-ecosystems, including biodiversity, life cycles and soil biological activity. , and this is accomplished using agronomic, biological and mechanical on-farm methods without the exclusion of all non-agricultural synthetic inputs â.
Crop residues, compost, farm manure, vermicomposts, biogas slurry, green manure, poultry manure are the major components of organic farming. Any type of biological waste used to fertilize crops or plants is called organic fertilizer. It is an integral part of organic farming that helps activate the soil biologically, physically and chemically. Different crop residues such as paddy straw, wheat straw, paddy husk, mash residue, plant parts, sugar cane waste, press mud, mint, molasses, leaves of ‘trees, stubble, weeds, etc. are available with farmers. Compost is prepared by breaking down a wide variety of organic wastes like farm residues, garbage, weeds, livestock droppings, barn wastes, ashes, etc.
To ensure the authenticity of organically grown products reaching markets, the farmer, processor, manufacturer, distributor and retailer must go through a certification process. An organic grower must adhere to well-defined standards, protocols, procedures and practices for land preparation, application of inputs such as seeds, organic fertilizers, etc. in accordance with strict production guidelines. In April 2000, the National Organic Program for the Accelerated Promotion of the Organic Agriculture Movement was launched in India. The program is implemented by APEDA (Export Development Authority for Processed Agricultural Food Products) under the auspices of the Ministry of Commerce.
The Participatory Guarantee System (SPG) has been adopted by some states in our country. The PGS is a quality assurance initiative that is locally relevant, emphasizes the participation of stakeholders, including producers and consumers, and operates outside the framework of third-party certification. Participatory guarantee systems are locally focused quality assurance systems. They certify producers on the basis of active stakeholder participation and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange. PGS is a process in which people in similar situations assess, inspect and verify each other’s production practices and make decisions about organic certification.
There is a strong demand for organic products in the country’s domestic markets. Huge potential for organic basmati rice production exists in the Jammu Plains due to the abundance of crop residues, animal droppings and the low use or need of fertilizers. Farmers may be motivated by the low use of fertilizers or by the lack of fertilizer use for organic basmati rice production. Likewise, the organic production of Ratta Ranja, Chandaki rice can be promoted in the Poonch-Rajouri belt and Muskbudji, Kamad and Zag rice in the Kashmir valley. From an agro-climatic point of view, the hilly areas of Jammu as well as the provinces of Kashmir are best suited for organic farming, as specific pockets or belts can be used effectively for biological control measures associated with restriction of organic farming. entry of chemicals or fertilizers. The cost of transporting fertilizer to the more remote and hilly areas is high and instead locally available materials can be converted for manure. Little or no use of chemical fertilizers will save our soil, water bodies and rivers from pollution. Lower Shivaliks, Intermediate Hills, and Upper Stretches can provide a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. Many fruits like nuts, cherries and pears are produced in the hills without the use of chemical fertilizers in the hilly areas. There is great potential for the production, brand promotion and marketing of organically produced local specialties like Bhaderwah Rajmash, Marwah Rajmash, Poonch Rajmash, Kala Zeera, Kishtwar Kesar, Solai Honey, Curcuma, Garlic, Sweet Corns, Cowpea, Peas, Desi Mash, Desi Kulath, Ganthia Thoom, Red Chillies, Sesame, Kashmiri Brinjal, Desi Kheera, Desi Gobhi etc. plant residue laboratories.
Raising awareness among the general public and local consumers about the residues and harmful effects of toxic molecules in fruits, vegetables or food will increase consumption and demand for organic products in addition to preventing health risks. Chemical-free vegetable and fruit production can be encouraged in rural, semi-urban and urban areas by separating household vegetable waste and converting it into valuable vermicompost, using backyards, roofs and sacks. culture. The full technical know-how of organic farming should be provided to producers and field or extension agents through training and awareness programs. Lack of assured marketing, costly certification procedures, pest and disease attacks, lack of government incentives or support for organic producers, unjustified profits from middlemen, unreliability of assured returns, poor initial production and marketing of organic products are some of the main constraints of organic farming. The unavailability of fertilizers or organic inputs coupled with their bulkiness is detrimental to the interests of farmers. Techno-economic feasibility studies, project formation and initiation of start-ups are needed in potential areas for organic products in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. State Departments of Agricultural Production and Farmer Welfare, Horticulture and Related Services, State Agricultural Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Central / State Universities and NGOs can play a leading role in making J&K a hub for organic products.
(The author is an agronomist)