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:
• Recycled and composted crop wastes and animal manures
• The right soil cultivation at the right time
• Crop rotation
• Green manures and legumes
• Mulching on the soil surface
To control pests, diseases and weeds:
• Careful planning and crop choice
• The use of resistant crops
• Good cultivation practice
• Crop rotation
• Encouraging useful predators that eat pests
• Increasing genetic diversity
• Using natural pesticides
Organic farming also involves:
• Careful use of water resources
• Good animal husbandry
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:
• Increase long-term soil fertility.
• Control pests and diseases without harming the environment.
• Ensure that water stays clean and safe.
• Use resources which the farmer already has, so the farmer needs less money to buy farm inputs.
• Produce nutritious food, feed for animals and high quality crops to sell at a good price.
Modern, intensive agriculture causes many problems, including the following:
• Artificial fertilizers and herbicides are easily washed from the soil and pollute rivers, lakes and water courses.
• The prolonged use of artificial fertilisers results in soils with a low organic matter content which is easily eroded by wind and rain.
• Dependency on fertilisers. Greater amounts are needed every year to produce the same yields of crops.
• Artificial pesticides can stay in the soil for a long time and enter the food chain where they build up in the bodies of animals and humans, causing health problems.
• Artificial chemicals destroy soil micro-organisms resulting in poor soil structure and aeration and decreasing nutrient availability.
• Pests and diseases become more difficult to control as they become resistant to artificial pesticides. The numbers of natural enemies decrease because of pesticide use and habitat loss.
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
(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
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
(a) Continuation of NCOF/ RCOFs and their strengthening
(b) Construction of building of NCOF and RCOFs
2. Capital Investment Subsidy for setting up of:
a. Fruits & Vegetables Waste/agro-waste Compost Production Units and
b. Bio-fertilizer and Bio pesticide production Units
3. Development and implementation of quality control regime and technical support for organic and biological inputs
a. Quality Control Analysis of Biofertilizer and Organic Fertilizers
b. Development of quality control regime for other organic inputs
c. Development, maintenance and supply of authenticated strains of microorganisms
4. Human resource development through following trainings
a. Certificate Course on organic farming
b. Refresher Training course for analysts
c. Trainers trainings
d. Training of Field Functionaries / Extension Officers on Organic Farming
e. International trainings/exposures for trainers
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.