The introduction of chemicals in farming got many delirious at the sight of what they could accomplish. Yields exploded. At the start, the soil was healthy. Any damage brought about by chemical fertilizers was hardly noticeable. Pests had not developed resistance to the chemicals. The technology spread across the world as it was considered the revolution in agriculture. Flash forward to today, and many people are marvelling at organic farming again. This is after learning that conventional farming methods come with a host of problems including health related diseases like cancer, pollution, degradation of soil and water, and impact on domestic animals.
Organic farming is a technique, which involves cultivation of plants and rearing of animals in natural ways. This process involves the use of biological materials, avoiding synthetic substances to maintain soil fertility and ecological balance thereby minimizing pollution and wastage. In other words, organic farming is a farming method that involves growing and nurturing crops without the use of synthetic based fertilizers and pesticides. Also, no genetically modified organisms are permitted.
It relies on ecologically balanced agricultural principles like crop rotation, green manure, organic waste, biological pest control, mineral and rock additives. Organic farming make use of pesticides and fertilizers if they are considered natural and avoids the use of various petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides.
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), an international organization established in 1972 for organic farming organizations defines goal of organic farming as:
“Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved”
Reasons For Organic Farming
The population of the planet is skyrocketing and providing food for the world is becoming extremely difficult. The need of the hour is sustainable cultivation and production of food for all. The Green Revolution and its chemical based technology are losing its appeal as dividends are falling and returns are unsustainable. Pollution and climate change are other negative externalities caused by use of fossil fuel based chemicals.
In spite of our diet choices, organic food is the best choice you’ll ever make, and this means embracing organic farming methods. Here are the reasons why we need to take up organic farming methods:
1. To accrue the benefits of nutrients
Foods from organic farms are loaded with nutrients such as vitamins, enzymes, minerals and other micro-nutrients compared to those from conventional farms. This is because organic farms are managed and nourished using sustainable practices. In fact, some past researchers collected and tested vegetables, fruits, and grains from both organic farms and conventional farms.
The conclusion was that food items from organic farms had way more nutrients than those sourced from commercial or conventional farms. The study went further to substantiate that five servings of these fruits and vegetables from organic farms offered sufficient allowance of vitamin C. However, the same quantity of fruits and vegetable did not offer the same sufficient allowance.
2. Stay away from GMOs
Statistics show that genetically modified foods (GMOs) are contaminating natural foods sources at real scary pace, manifesting grave effects beyond our comprehension. What makes them a great threat is they are not even labelled. So, sticking to organic foods sourced from veritable sources is the only way to mitigate these grave effects of GMOs.
3. Natural and better taste
Those that have tasted organically farmed foods would attest to the fact that they have a natural and better taste. The natural and superior taste stems from the well balanced and nourished soil. Organic farmers always prioritize quality over quantity.
4. Direct support to farming
Purchasing foods items from organic farmers is a sure-fire investment in a cost-effective future. Conventional farming methods have enjoyed great subsidies and tax cuts from most governments over the past years. This has led to the proliferation of commercially produced foods that have increased dangerous diseases like cancer. It’s time Governments should invest in organic farming technologies to mitigate these problems and secure the future. It all starts with you buying food items from known organic sources.
5. To conserve agricultural diversity
These days, it normal to hear news about extinct species and this should be a major concern. In the last century alone, it is approximated that 75 percent of agricultural diversity of crops has been wiped out. Slanting towards one form of farming is a recipe for disaster in the future. A classic example is a potato. There were different varieties available in the marketplace. Today, only one species of potato dominate.
This is a dangerous situation because if pests knock out the remaining potato specie available today, we will not have potatoes anymore. This is why we need organic farming methods that produce disease and pest resistant crops to guarantee a sustainable future.
6. Key Features of Organic Farming
• Protecting soil quality using organic material and encouraging biological activity • Indirect provision of crop nutrients using soil microorganisms • Nitrogen fixation in soils using legumes • Weed and pest control based on methods like crop rotation, biological diversity, natural predators, organic manures and suitable chemical, thermal and biological intervention • Rearing of livestock, taking care of housing, nutrition, health, rearing and breeding • Care for the larger environment and conservation of natural habitats and wildlife
Four Principles of Organic Farming
• Principle of Health: Organic agriculture must contribute to the health and well-being of soil, plants, animals, humans and the earth. It is the sustenance of mental, physical, ecological and social well-being. For instance, it provides pollution and chemical free, nutritious food items for humans.
• Principle of Fairness: Fairness is evident in maintaining equity and justice of the shared planet both among humans and other living beings. Organic farming provides good quality of life and helps in reducing poverty. Natural resources must be judiciously used and preserved for future generations.
• Principle of Ecological Balance: Organic farming must be exhibited on living ecological systems. Organic farming methods must fit the ecological balances and cycles in nature.
• Principle of Care: Organic agriculture should be practiced in a careful and responsible manner to benefit the present and future generations and the environment.