Organic farming is an agricultural system that works in harmony with nature. It largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives etc.) and rely upon crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection.
Organic farming in India has been followed since ancient times. It primarily aims at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way, as to keep the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (biofertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable production in an eco-friendly and pollution-free environment.
Key characteristics of organic farming:
• It relies on traditional techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological. It is accomplished by using farm agronomic, biological and mechanical methods in exclusion of all synthetic off farm inputs.
• It protects the long term fertility of soils by maintaining organic Matter levels and encouraging soil biological activity. It often involves vermiculture and vermicomposting too.
• The biological processes, driven by mycorrhiza, allow the natural production of nutrients in soil throughout growing season.
• Legumes are planted to fix nitrogen into the soil. It allows nitrogen self-sufficiency through biological nitrogen fixation.
• It allows effective recycling of organic materials .
• Natural insect predators are encouraged which can be specific for certain pests or of broad-range.
• Crop Rotation supports a wider range of beneficial insects, soil micro-organisms, and hence, protects species from going extinct.
• A key characteristic of organic farming is the rejection of genetically engineered plants and animals.
• Hardier plants are generated through plant breeding rather than genetic engineering.
Advantages of organic farming over other forms of farming:
• It improves soil health and fertility.
• It requires careful use of water resources hence lead to conservation of water.
• Good animal husbandry
• Using natural pesticides (biological control)
• Recycled crop wastes
• Green manures and legumes
• Increasing genetic diversity
• Use of resistant crops increased employment
• Cost-effective farming
• Size of the Indian organic food market is Rs. 100 crore.
• Number of organic food farmers in India are 570,000.
• Sikkim has become India's first fully organic state by converting around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land into sustainable cultivation.
• Uttaranchal is the first state to establish organic commodities board and created organic export zones by establishing organic bio-villages.
• Madhya Pradesh has declared many of its villages as organic.