Here’s Why We Need To Switch To Organic Farming

Posted on May 23, 2013 in Environment, Health & Life

By Mahitha Kasireddi:

Organic farming appealed to me because it involved searching for and discovering nature’s pathways, as opposed to the formulaic approach of chemical farming. The appeal of organic farming is boundless; this mountain has no top, this river has no end.
― Eliot Coleman, The New Organic Grower: A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener

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India is advancing towards becoming a diabetic country. This development is due to lot of chemicals making their way to our plates owing to the growing super market culture. The vegetables and fruits we buy from the supermarkets are the ones treated with chemicals to preserve the fresh look. Irrespective of the number of authentication labels on the product, customers could be easily cheated. With growing consciousness about health these days, people are eager to seek better sources for nutritious food. It is a far fetched dream to be able to use fresh vegetables directly from farm without any additives or preservatives sprinkled on them. Also, one need not be surprised on learning that we are prone to another food crises in the coming years because the present farming methods using subsidized fertilizers and chemicals is not going to provide us with sustainable amount of grain to support the 1.2 billion population.

The solution to save posterity from such pathetic crisis is to shift to organic farming. The old traditional methods need to gain revival once again for common good and sustainability. The biggest catching argument in the country today is the feasibility of organic farming. Hope this essay will help everyone to be convinced why we need to go organic.

Before I begin persuading all to shift to organic food, let us cognize the disadvantages of conventional farming. Shortcuts come with consequences, conventional methods are such. How long can you manipulate nature? Many credits have been attributed to the success of green revolution technologies in India. Past 45 years of agriculture no doubt has made us self sufficient in food grain but we are already facing the upshots. The soil fertility has been eaten away by the fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. Farmers are not educated enough and often tend to administer high doses of pesticides which effect the crop and the strength of the soil.

After a lot of vitriolic treatment to the food, normal washing under the tap is not going to help get rid of the chemicals. For instance, 25% of Punjab is suffering from diabetes. Upon investigation of the reason for such a trend, it was found that there was a high deficiency of zinc in their diet. This deficiency is attributed to excessive use of fertilizers. Also, excessive use of pesticides can lead to cancer. The use of ammonium nitrate fertilizer also leads to global warming as it emits nitrous oxide, an active green house gas which is 320 times greater than CO2. The use of organic farming methods can reduce these emissions to considerable scale.

Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are notorious for high number of farmer suicides by consuming pesticides. The reason for farmers to take such an extreme step is not the rain pattern or crop failure but being trapped in debts due to purchase of costly pesticides. The greed to increase yield drives them to make high purchases in addition to subsidies provided by the government. In order to promote healthy food, the best would be to cut down subsidies but, the apologists in the government bring up a ridiculous vindication that cutting subsidies on fertilizers would inflate food prices. So, to control food inflation subsidies shall continue.

Here is why we should shift to organic farming. In natural farming, the nutrients in the soil that are drawn for agriculture will be restored back in the soil in one form or the other. The food it yields will be rich in proteins and nutrients. Organic farming does not require heavy investments, in case of a crop failure the farmers will not suffer much loss as compared to conventional farming. Crops raised using organic methods do not use much water as the soil structure is not associated with problems such as salinisation or soil degradation. Traditional methods use biological manure as against those in conventional which lead to global warning. Organic management helps to enhance agro- ecosystem health including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil bioactivity which are displaced due to synthetic inputs. Agro-chemicals are produced from non-renewable fossil fuels which will diminish in future and shall cost a lot on our foreign exchange.

The requirement is not only to increase yield but to stabilize production in a sustainable manner. Above all, food security is the main reason for taking to organic cultivation. With the new law passed in order ensure quality in food production, it is not possible to realize this unless we get back to traditional methods. The lucrative benefit that adds to the economy due to organic farming is job creation. It is difficult to maintain an organic farm without the required skill and training. Government can initiate training and provide employment in farm sector as we shift to organic gradually. Organic farming can very well emerge as an art. It is visibly a solution to alleviate poverty at rural level, helping in realizing inclusive growth.

Critics may argue that organic food is costly and the yield per hectare will be low. But, a clever choice of vegetables will promote the health of the family. The affordability and spending patterns of middle class mainly is changing, they do not mind paying more if it is worth that. And the yield will definitely be low for the first 3-5 years by 20-30%. It is not possible to expect a sea of change overnight. The shifting shall take place over years hectare by hectare. Anything natural develops in a phenomenal fashion. It will require observation, vigilance, skill and patience to finally make India sustainable and healthy.

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