What is Organic Farming ?

What is Organic Farming ?

Organic farming seeks to produce healthy, good quality food in an ecologically responsible way. Organic farming is one of the several approaches found to meet the objectives of sustainable agriculture.

The organic management systems are designed to avoid the need for agrochemicals and to minimize damage to the environment and wildlife. In the Indian context it is also termed as ‘Javik Krishi’.

According to a recent news, India ranks first in number of organic farmers and ninth in terms of area under organic farming. Sikkim became the first State in the world to become fully organic and other States including Tripura and Uttarakhand have set similar targets.

Concept of Organic Farming in India:

Organic farming is very much native to India. Whosoever tries to write a history of organic farming will have to refer India and China. The farmers of these two countries are farmers of 40 centuries and it is organic farming that sustained them.

Ancient Indian texts like Mahabharata,  Kautilya Arthashastra, Brihad Sanhita, Rigveda all has mention of organic agriculture techniques and use of dung of goat, sheep, cow etc as manures.

Organic agriculture in India is based on following fundamental rules:

  • Nature knows best and has provided the model understood over centuries. One must learn and emulate from it
  • Intimate understanding of nature’s ways and integrating the same in farm operations is the key
  • Nature has provided the ways to meet the demand and maintain balance among various component. It does not believe in mining of the soil and resources and do not degrade it.
  • Organic agriculture regards soil as a living entity
  • All life forms are integral part of the system and are significant contributors to its fertility.
  • Management and preservation of all life forms in its full diversity is fundamental to success.

The modern day organic farming in India, evolved on the basic theoretical expositions of Sir Albert Howard. Albert Howard was Imperial Economic Botanist to the Government of India from 1905–1924. He worked in India as agricultural adviser and was in charge of a government research farm at Indore.

His  book, An Agricultural Testament, of 1940 is a classic organic farming text, is based on an analysis of the environment friendly farming practiced here for centuries.

Also Read: Organic Farming Systems Prevalent in India

Definition of Organic Farming:

Over last 50 years different organizations have suggested various definitions to modern organic farming. Some of the widely accepted definitions are listed below:

Organisation Definition of Organic Agriculture
USDA Organic farming is a system which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives etc) and to the maximum extent feasible rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection
FAO 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.
IFOAM 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
NPOP, India Organic agriculture is a system of farm design and management to create an ecosystem, which can achieve sustainable productivity without the use of artificial external inputs such as chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides
Task Force (2014) Organic agriculture is a unique production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. This is accomplished by using on- farm agronomic, biological and mechanical methods in exclusion of all synthetic off-farm inputs

Principles of Organic Farming:

International Federation for Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) has codified the principles of organic agriculture during 2005. IFOAM’s four principles of organic agriculture include:

  1. The principle of health
  2. The principle of ecology
  3. The principle of fairness
  4. The principle of care

The Principle of Health

Organic Agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible. This principle points out that the health of individuals and communities cannot be separated from the health of ecosystems – healthy soils produce healthy crops that foster the health of animals and people.

Health is the wholeness and integrity of living systems. It is not simply the absence of illness, but the maintenance of physical, mental, social and ecological well-being. Immunity, resilience and regeneration are key characteristics of health.

The Principle of Ecology

Organic Agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them. This principle roots organic agriculture within living ecological systems. It states that production is to be based on ecological processes, and recycling.

The Principle of Care

Organic Agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment. Organic agriculture is a living and dynamic system that responds to internal and external demands and conditions. Practitioners of organic agriculture can enhance efficiency and increase productivity, but this should not be at the risk of jeopardizing health and well-being.

The Principle of fairness

Organic Agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities. Fairness is characterized by equity, respect, justice and stewardship of the shared world, both among people and in their relations to other living beings.

Organic Production Standards in India

National Programme on Organic Production (NPOP) and PGS-India organic guarantee system have prescribed Standards for Organic Production. These standards are comparable to widely adopted international standards of IFOAM, USDA and European Union.

Organic Product Standards in India