Organic Farming

Professor M Sumarjit Singh
Organic farming is recognized as a sustainable agriculture practice promoting use of organic/bio inputs that takes care of the environment (including soil, biodiversity) and human wellbeing. Organic farming practices such as crop rotations, inter-cropping, cover crops, use of organic fertilizers and minimum tillage improves biodiversity, nutrient and water retention capacity of the soil. Organic agriculture also contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming through its ability to sequester carbon in the soil (FAO).
Organic farming is on the rise across the globe. A total of 71.5 million hectares were farmed organically at the end of 2018, representing a growth of 2 million hectares or almost 3% compared to the previous year. There are 186 countries with organic farming activities. Australia has the largest area farmed organically with 35.7 million hectares, followed by Argentina with 3.6 million hectares and China with 3.1 million hectares. Due to large agricultural land (36 million hectares) is in Oceania, followed by Europe with 22% or 15.6 million hectares and Latin America with a share of 11% or 8 million hectares.
The 78 million hectares covered under organic farming in India is about 2% of the 140.1 million hectares of the net sown area in the country. NPOP scheme began in 2001 and covers nearly 70% of India’s total organic area coverage of which 30% is under conversion. As on 31st March 2021 total area under organic certification process (registered under National Programme for Organic Production) is 4339184.93 hectares (2020-21). This includes 2657889.33 hectares of cultivable area and another 1681295.61 hectares for wild harvest collection.
Among all the states, Madhya Pradesh has covered the largest area under organic certification followed by Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Karnataka.
India produced around 3496800.34MT(2020-21) of certified organic products which  includes all varieties of food products namely Oil Seeds, fibre,  Sugar cane, Cereals and Millets, Cotton, Pulses,  Aromatic and Medicinal Plants, Tea, Coffee, Fruits, Spices, Dry Fruits, Vegetables, Processed foods etc. The production is not limited to the edible sector but also produces organic cotton fibre, functional food products etc.
In Manipur, under the Manipur organic mission agency, a total of 12,500 organic farmers (5000 farmers covering 5,000 hectares during Phase-1 and 7,500 farmers covering 7,500 hectares during Phase-II) have been registered as beneficiaries of the scheme growing six horticultural crops viz. Pineapple, Tamenglong Orange, Kachai Lemon, King Chilli, Ginger, Turmeric and two agricultural crops viz., Chakhao (Black Aromatic Rice) and HYV paddy.
Organic foods are safe and healthy and also boost immunity. With increased awareness of organic foods, people are inclining more towards organic products and it is a fact that since the advent of COVID-19, the demand for organic products has increased in the domestic market. The domestic market is growing @17% and the projected demand of organic food market is likely to cross Rs. 87.1crore by 2021 from the Rs. 53.3 crore in 2016 (ASSOCHAM-EY).  The export market size of organic products has increased by 42% during the current year (2021) compared to last year and the volume of organic products exported from April 2020 to February 2021 is 819250 MT with value of 948 million USD.
Food quality and safety are two vital factors that have attained constant attention in common people. Growing environmental awareness and several food hazards (e.g. dioxins, bovine, spongiform encephalopathy, and bacterial contamination) have substantially decreased the consumer’s trust towards food quality in the last decades. Intensive conventional farming can add contamination to the food chain. For these reasons, consumers quest for safer and better foods that are produced through more ecologically and authentically by local systems. Organically grown food and food products are believed to meet these demands.
The writer is at  Department of Agronomy, College of Agriculture, Iroisemba
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