(This the first of a series of articles on organic farming)
Organic Farming is a method of cultivation done in line with nature. Food, fodder and livestock are raised in an integrated way. Natural balance remains undisturbed even after many years of Organic Farming. In other words, the web of life is integrated
which results in conservation of Biodiversity.
Indian farmers were cultivating and “Farm Husbanding” using natural way of cultivation for generations, which are evident from the remains of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa. A typical Indian farmer had a minimum of 50 pairs of livestock. Some of them used to
help with the farm activities like ploughing, pulling carts, water lifting and so on. Some of them supplied milk and meat. The farm wastes were converted to farmyard manure. The goats and sheep were their mobile banks (could sell whenever they need instant
money). The value of a farmer was estimated with the herd they possessed. The hens gave egg and meat. Vegetable were grown in their backyard. People ate farm-fresh food so remained hale and healthy. There was a network of LIVES.
With modernization and mechanization we lost our treasure. With the entry of tractors, the farmers preferred to lose cattle. The microbial load of beneficial microorganisms was not fed to the fields. The minimum microbial load present in the Indian soil
was killed with the fresh supply of chemical fertilizers which was introduced in the name of Green revolution.
Over years of advanced agriculture, we lost our traditional varieties which were pest resistant, disease resistant and saline resistant and which could withstand water stagnation and all possible natural vagaries. Yes, OUR rich and varied collection of
gene pool was lost as farmers are forced to cultivate short duration varieties and high yielding varieties.
A typical field has a good number of insects. There is a mix of beneficial and harmful insects. Beneficial insects include natural enemies, which kills harmful insects. A natural enemy is organisms which kill, harm and cause disease in other living organisms.
There are three types - predators, parasites and pathogens. Predators kill other organisms. Parasites enter or attach to the bodies of their victims and feed on their tissues and fluids ultimately kill them. Pathogens are microorganisms which cause diseases.
On application of pesticides to the field the farmers’ friend “beneficial insects” are the first where as the harmful insects get resistance to the pesticide and gains resurgence which require higher dose of insecticides to kill them. The pest management was
wisely done by encouraging the natural enemies. Cow’s urine was used to manage various crop diseases. Herbal extracts like neem oil and neem based products were used to control pests and diseases. The use of Panchakavya dates back to Vedic era. These methods
also helped in multiplication of the microbial load of the soil and made them fertile.
Now it is time to seek old wine in new bottle - The traditional agriculture in the name of Organic Farming. Organic farming uses crop rotations and cover crops which help in balance of nutrient supply. Cover crops and composted manure are used to maintain
soil organic matter and fertility. Balanced host/predator relationships were encouraged for pest and disease management without any external factor. Organic residues and nutrients produced on the farm are recycled back to the soil. Organic farming protects
the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, decrease pollution, and optimize biological productivity.
Organic Farming is gaining importance to gain back what we lost - A healthy life, a sustainable economy and integrated development. In this age of globalization, an organic certification helps to reach out to the global market. The developed countries
consume organic foods but sells to developing countries like India, genetically modified seeds and agricultural fertilizers and pesticides /which they produce. . It is time for us to wake up and get the better of this marketing game.
(K. Amina Bibi is a Post Graduate in Agriculture with specialization in Plant Breeding and Genetics. She is currently working as Agriculture Officer in Karaikal,
Department of Agriculture, Government of Puducherry)