TODAY -

Organic farming for nutritional food security - a conceptual approach

Lakshmi Dhar Hatai *



A significant revolution in food habits is encouraged through organic farming of high-value commodities, value addition and post-harvest processing of agricultural produce. To raise income, employment, profitability, nutritional food security and global competitiveness, a holistic approach with organic agricultural produce has become imminent.

Organic farming is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity and biological cycles. Organic farming has the potential to contribute to nutritional food security by improving nutrition intake and sustaining livelihoods in rural areas.

Organic farming system emphasis on the use of organic matter for enhancing soil properties, minimizing food chain associated health hazards and attaining closed nutrient cycles, the key factors for sustainable agriculture. Organic farming aims at sustaining and increasing productivity by improving the agro-ecosystem.

It is based on the minimal cost of the off-farm inputs and management practices that restore, maintain and sustain ecological harmony. Organic agriculture is a holistic approach to the production system that gives quality organic food. Organic produces are well known to be richer in micronutrients, vitamins and various other quality parameters.

India occupies 10th position among the top ten countries in terms of cultivable land under organic certification. The certified area includes 10% cultivable area with 0.50 million hectare and the rest 90% (4.71 million hectare) is forest and wild area for collection of minor forest produces. The total area under organic certification is 5.21 million hectares (NPOP, 2012-13).

India produces around 1.34 million MT of certified organic products which includes all varieties of food products namely Sugarcane, Cotton, Basmati rice, Pulses, Tea, Spices, Coffee, Oil Seeds, Fruits and their value-added products. The production is not limited to the edible sector but also produces organic cotton fiber, functional food products etc.

Organic products are grown under a system of agriculture without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides with an environmentally and socially responsible approach. This is a method of farming that grass root level preserving the reproductive and regenerative capacity of the soil, good plant nutrition, and sound soil management, produces nutritious food rich in vitality which has resistance to diseases.

India has now become a leading supplier of organic herbs, organic spices, organic rice (basmati, joha etc.) The organic produce includes all varieties of food products (cereals, pulses, honey, tea, spices, coffee, oilseeds, fruits, vegetables and their value-added products. Country also produces organic cotton fibers, garments, cosmetics, functional food products, body care products etc.

India has a great potential for export or organic products, if inspection and certification is streamlined and credibility in the international market is established. There are inbuilt organic practices already existing among the farmers of our country. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has already documented nearly 3000 indigenous technological knowledge. Most of the technologies would be useful for organic farming.

Organic farming is simultaneously reducing vulnerability to climate change and enhancing biodiversity. Sustainable practices associated with organic farming are relatively labor intensive. Sustainable food production will become increasingly important in developing countries, as the majority of population growth is concentrated in the world’s poorest countries.

Agriculture in developing countries is often far more labor intensive than in industrial countries, so it is not surprising that approximately 80% of the 1.6 million global certified organic farmers live in the developing world. The countries with the most certified organic producers in 2010 were India (400,551 farmers), Uganda (188,625), and Mexico (128,826).

Non-certified organic agriculture in developing countries is practiced by millions of indigenous people, peasants, and small family farms involved in subsistence and local market-oriented production. Organic farming is beneficial for its contribution towards improving nutritional food security, alleviating poverty, proactively creating new local and export markets, and driving sustainable rural development through the empowerment of farming community.

There is a need to promote organic produce with objectives of promoting exports and improving returns. There is an urgent need to develop technology for organic farming and create awareness on the benefits it provides for nutritional food security. In order to exploit the potential for export of organic produce to its full capacity, sincere efforts are required to develop a full-fledged quality assurance system.

There is a need to have a rational approach for ensuring the quality and safety of food items including domestic, imported and exported products. There is an urgent need to compare the quality of organically produced food with conventionally produced food. There appears to be a widespread perception among consumers that organically produced foods are of superior nutritional quality.

Moreover, the north eastern states being the one of the mega biodiversity to organic production. The North eastern Region is home to some niche crops like Assam lemon, Joha rice, Medicinal rice and Passion fruits. The region is also known for good quality ginger, turmeric, large cardamom, tea, orange, pineapple etc. Organic produce is likely to have a very good demand in domestic and international markets.

The upcoming challenges for promotion of organic farming in the region are benchmark survey for identifying the potential areas, research needs for development of appropriate technology, human resource development in organic input production, assistance to farmers in post-harvest handling, processing and value addition, reduction of certification cost, creation of adequate infrastructure and efficient marketing system of organic produce for sustainable nutritional food security.


For further details contact:-
Public Relation & Media Management Cell,
CAU, Imphal.
Email: prmmcell@gmail.com


* Lakshmi Dhar Hatai wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Assistant Professor (Agril Economics), College of Home Science, Central Agricultural University, Tura, Meghalaya-794005
This article was webcasted on December 20 2021.



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