What is organic farming?
Organic farming works in harmony with nature rather than against it. This involves using techniques to achieve good crop yields without harming the natural environment or the people who live and work in it. The methods and materials that organic farmers use are summarised as follows:
To keep and build good soil structure and fertility:
To control pests, diseases and weeds:
Organic farming also involves:
A modern approach to farming
Organic farming does not mean going ‘back’ to traditional methods. Many of the farming methods used in the past are still useful today. Organic farming takes the best of these and combines them with modern scientific knowledge. Organic farmers do not leave their farms to be taken over by nature; they use all the knowledge, techniques and materials available to work with nature. In this way the farmer creates a healthy balance between nature and farming, where crops and animals can grow and thrive.
To be a successful organic farmer, the farmer must not see every insect as a pest, every plant out of place as a weed and the solution to every problem in an artificial chemical spray. The aim is not to eradicate all pests and weeds, but to keep them down to an acceptable level and make the most of the benefits that they may provide.
On an organic farm, each technique would not normally be used on its own. The farmer would use a range of organic methods at the same time to allow them to work together for the maximum benefit. For example the use of green manures and careful cultivation, together provide better control of weeds than if the techniques were used on their own.
Why farm organically?
Organic farming provides long-term benefits to people and the environment.
Organic farming aims to:
Modern, intensive agriculture causes many problems, including the following:
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE NATIONAL PROJECT ON ORGANIC FARMING (NPOF)
National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF) is a continuing central sector scheme since 10 th Five Year Plan. Planning Commission had approved the scheme as pilot project for remaining two and half years of 10 th plan period with effect from 01.10.2004 with an outlay of Rs.57.04 crore. The scheme is continuing in the 11 th Plan with an outlay of Rs.101.00 crore with the following revised mandates:
(i) Promotion of organic farming in the country through technical capacity building of all the stakeholders including human resource development, technology development, transfer of technology, promotion and production of quality organic and biological inputs, awareness creation and publicity through print and electronic media.
(ii) Statutory quality control requirements of bio-fertilizers and organic fertilizers under the Fertilizer (Control) Order (FCO), 1985, including revision of standards and testing protocols keeping in view the advances in research and technology and bringing remaining organic inputs under quality control regime.
(iii) Capacity building for soil health assessment, organic input resource management and market development.
i. NPOF was implemented as a pilot project during later half of 10 th Plan subsuming “National Project on Use and Development of Bio-fertilizers” with its one national and six regional centres renamed as National Centre of Organic Farming (NCOF) and six Regional Centres of Organic Farming(RCOF).
1.2 Strategic Importance
In spite of tremendous success there were some impediments, especially in the field of technical information on soil health issues, soil health indicators, appropriate organic management approaches specific to cropping system or geographic locations, quality control mechanism for inputs and affordable quality assurance system for small and marginal farmers.
1.3 Strategy for Focused Approach
1.3.1 Deteriorating soil health, declining input use efficiency and growing imbalances in soil and environment necessitate development and adoption of environment friendly technologies. Soil health assessment from organic and biological perspective and identification of key soil health indicators require attention.
1.3.2 To give support to organic farming at its present stage, it is important to create technical capacity, generate scientific knowledge and identify constraints and strategies to overcome them. It is essential that organic farming promotion and technical capacity building is taken up with major focus on: (a) scientific knowledge and technical capacity building; (b) production, promotion and quality control of organic inputs; (c) soil health assessment from organic and biological perspective; (d) technology development and information generation through 3 research and its dissemination; (e) strengthening product quality assurance system; and (f) mass awareness creation through print and electronic media.
1.3.3 The National Project on Organic Farming in its present form focuses mainly on technical capacity building, information generation, technology development and dissemination, formulation of standards, input production and quality control facilitation, human resource development, developing alternative low-cost certification system of PGS and awareness creation through
seminars/conferences and publicity.
1.4 The revised scheme of NPOF has been approved with following broad
(i) To facilitate, encourage and promote development of organic agriculture in the country.
(ii) To encourage production and use of organic and biological sources of nutrients like bio-fertilizers, organic manure, compost for sustained soil health and fertility and improving soil organic carbon and to promote production and use of bio-pesticides, bio-control agents etc as alternative inputs in organic farming.
(iii) To act as nodal agency for implementation of quality control regime for biofertilizers and organic fertilizers, as per the requirement of FCO.
(iv) To formulate and define standards for other unregulated organic and biological inputs and bring them under quality control mechanism, define/upgrade standards and testing protocols.
(v) Develop, maintain, undertake regular efficacy testing and ensure steady supply of mother cultures of bio-fertilizer and other beneficial microorganisms for nutrient mobilization and plant protection to the biological input production industry.
(vi) To run short term certificate courses on organic system and on-farm resource management.
(vii) To organize regular trainings and refresher courses for State Governments’ quality control analysts/inspectors associated with implementation of Fertilizer (Control) Order 1985 (FCO).
(viii) To impart trainers’ training on certification systems, organic management, input production and on other related aspects to certification and inspection agencies, extension agencies, farmers, industries and organizations engaged in the production, and promotion of inputs and organic farming.
(ix) To initiate research on validation of established indigenous practices, inputs and technologies leading to development of package of practices.
(x) To initiate studies/surveys on biological soil health assessment under different farming systems, practices or states.
(xi) To act as central information and data collection centre on all aspects of organic farming and dissemination of information through print and electronic media.
(xii) Publication of training literature, Quarterly Organic Farming Newsletter, Half yearly Bio-fertilizer Newsletter and validated and documented indigenous practices.
(xiii) Technical support to existing certification systems in terms of standards formulation, designing implementation protocols, evaluation and 4 surveillance. Policy, implementation and surveillance support to alternative farmers’ group centric low-cost certification system such as PGS.
(xiv) Awareness creation through seminars/conferences/trade fairs and publicity through print and electronic media.
(xv) Support Central and State Governments in evaluation, and monitoring of various organic agriculture schemes.
1.5 Approved Components of NPOF
1. Continuation of NCOF/RCOFs
2. Capital Investment Subsidy for setting up of:
3. Development and implementation of quality control regime and technical support for organic and biological inputs
4. Human resource development through following trainings
5. Capacity building for biological soil health assessment and organic nutrient resource mapping
6. Encourage and Support Research, studies and/or surveys etc on organic package of practices, inputs and management protocols
7. Publication of Newsletters, Training manuals and literature etc and collection of data related to organic farming and inputs
8. Capacity building for low cost alternative certification-Participatory Guarantee System (PGS)
9. New Initiatives, Market Development, Awareness Creation and Publicity and evaluation 5
10. Evaluation and monitoring of organic agriculture schemes/ programmes of Central and State Governments
1.6 Financial outlay of the scheme
The National Project on Organic Farming has been approved for continuance during the 11th Five Year Plan with a total outlay of Rs.101.00 crore for various components as listed in Table-I and will be implemented by Department of Agriculture & Cooperation (DAC), Ministry of Agriculture through National Centre of Organic Farming, (NCOF) Ghaziabad and its six Regional Centres of Organic Farming (RCOF) located at Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar, Imphal, Hisar, Jabalpur and Nagpur.