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The Need For Organic Farming In India: For Those Chemicals In Your Food Can Kill!

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By Ana Kandwal:

The recent decade has seen a serious concern over the issue of environmental degradation and an urgent need for its sustainability has been raised. Consequently, attempts have been made by many institutions, both public as well as private, to promote sustainable growth especially in regards to the ecology.

Organic Farming In India

During the past, till the introduction of the ‘LPG’ in the Indian economy, Indian agriculture was largely based on traditional knowledge and practices which mainly made use of organic mode of farming techniques and it is on this past practices that the modern proposal of the promotion of organic farming is based on (‘An Agriculture Testament’: Sir Albert Howard). Perhaps, an interesting argument that can be made against this is that the present agriculture is producing enough to meet the demand of the population and even export. But at what cost is it coming?

The introduction of a reckless chemical based agricultural policy in the recent decades has had adverse impact on the Indian agricultural practices and serious environmental concerns have been raised. Taking methodologies and practices from the west to enter the neo-liberal era and adopting to their mode of production led to the introduction of the famous ‘Green Revolution’, which was to address the issue of low productivity, but remained confined to defined geological areas favoring farming conditions aptly and now, for many a farmers, has turned into the ‘Red Revolution’ of their blood (In regards to chemical usage). As V. Sridhar quotes in his article, ‘Why do farmers commit suicides? A study of Andhra Pradesh’ in regards to farming inputs that: “The regime has had the effect of releasing control over the terms on which peasants access inputs. These inputs, ranging from power to pesticides have gone outside the ambit of state control.”

Moreover, the never ending demand by the developed nations from India for non-food grain products has further led to a pressing demand which is being met largely via the use of fertilizers and pesticides. The consumption of fertilizers in India over the last three decades has grown to half a million tonnes on an average per year. However, the efficiency of the fertilizers, as pointed out by experts, is only 30%-35% with the remaining amount seeping into the ground to mix with ground water. The areas making use of high levels of fertilizers has shown a drastic contamination of ground as well as irrigation water with nitrate levels being well over the safety level of 45mg/litre. (Organic Farming in India: Relevance, Problems and Constraints; Dr S. Narayan, NABARD)

The high doses of pesticides which increased from 24.32 thousand tonnes in 1970-75 to 75 thousand tonnes in 1990-91 have been having an adverse impact on the aquatic life, plants and animals. Time and again, animal deaths and human deaths as well, have been reported due to the excessive use of fertilizers.

All these factors completely come against this definition of sustainable agriculture as given out by the Food and Agriculture Organisation that “The successful management of resources for agriculture to satisfy changing human needs while maintaining or enhancing the quality of environment and conserving natural resources”.

Arguments may be raised over this and several critiques may also come forward but what needs to be kept in mind is that sustainable agriculture is of utmost importance and this can be achieved by encouraging the use of organic farming, which is currently limited to an area of just 41,000 ha in India, only 0.03% of the total cultivated area. This comes in complete contrast to the area usage around the world which varies between 3.70%-11.30%.

The global  increase in the area under organic farming is a result of high awareness of health problems caused by contaminated food, ill effects of environmental degradation, appropriate support by government and organisation and have gained strong support not only by local governments but also by international organisations such as European Union and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM). Some of the countries abroad have shown an increase in the organic production by 20%.

However, in India, there have been many a problems that have caused a failure of usage of organic farming. This has resulted due to failure of linkages between the farmers and markets and absence of financial support from the government. The only policy in this regard has been that of National Standards of Organic Production in 2000 (NSOP).

You must be to comment.

    I have been to the farm stores and seen the over priced packages of stuff labeled “organic fertilizer” that
    has very low content of the three components that actually work as
    fertilizers in the mix and the store sales persons tell me that that
    it is really a soil amendment that does not waste the fertilizer ingredients it has in it as run off the
    way as the inorganic version do. This not only helps the plants,
    but the soil as well. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from New Zealand Food Safety Authority:.
    GMOs, are not the alternative resources for food production, as means of feeding the
    increasing population. Mornings can never be complete without having a
    cup of Joe.

  2. Pranav Nangia

    Yes, the certification and trust on organic agriculture is on rise in India and it is partially because of some NGOs working for upliftment of Organic Farming in India I know one such organization which is

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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