AFood for Better Living..... Organic Food
– Dr. Hari
Today, the world is realizing the man-made problems like over- population,
pollution, food adulteration, disappearance
of biological diversity, environment degradation etc. Man, who has done miracles
of development, innovations
of chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, growth promoters etc.) for higher yields,
better profitability etc., has started to
think over these problems for unsolved, they may lead to destroy his very
existence on Mother Earth. In order to preserve and protect the environment
while enjoying the benefits of chemical free food, Organic Agriculture brings it
with a number of
added benefits for eg., improved soil fertility and water quality, prevention of
soil erosion, generation of rural employment.
Most farmers use conventional methods. They rely on synthetic chemicals and
fertilizers to grow their crops. These farming chemicals and fertilizers are not
found in nature, and they often build up in the environment, polluting our water
and soil. Most of these chemicals remain active for a long time, even long after
their job is done. The pesticides like DDT, Malathion, chloropyrifos etc
accumulates in the body over the years and can cause cancer, attack the nervous
system and weaken the immune systems. Excessive use of chemicals has developed
resistance in pests resulting in sporadic out break of pests (insects and
diseases), which can not be controlled even with more poisonous and expensive
Since people are now aware about disadvantages of chemical fertilizers, the
concept of food quality has changed dramatically over recent years in developed
and developing countries. Food quality now refers not only to the
characteristics of the final product, but also to the way in which it is
produced, processed and transported.
“Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes
and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles,
and soil biological activity. It emphasises the use of management practices in
preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional
conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using, where
possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using
synthetic materials, to fulfil any specific function within the system.”
According to FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, 1999, “Certified Organic”
means that a product (grains, fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, eggs, fibers such
as cotton, flowers etc.) has been produced in accordance to specific guidelines
and rigorous organic production standards, as established by a certifying
agency. These standards, which are based on internationally recognized organic
industry standards, include:
- Land on which organic food or fibers are grown must be free of prohibited
substances for a minimum of three years prior to certification.
- Farmers and processors must keep detailed records and materials used in
growing or processing organic products.
- All methods and materials are annually inspected by a third-party certifier.
The farmer has to bear initial losses due to low production during conversion
period because it takes some time to reach natural equilibrium. Based on 154
growing seasons’ data on various crops, organic crops yielded 95% of crops grown
under conventional, high-input conditions.
The cost of organic food is higher than that of conventional food because the
organic price tag more closely reflects the true cost of growing the food:
substituting labor and intensive management for chemicals, the health and
environmental costs of which are borne by society.
Consumers in developed and developing countries have become more health
conscious and are willing to spend more on greener, healthy and natural
foodstuff. The requirement of organic food is growing worldwide, fuelled by
consumer concerns for health and nutrition, environmental sustainability and
A comparative analysis of the nutrient content of organic and non-organic food
from the Firman Bear report, Rutgers University is published alongside. The
shaded rows are organic produce, unshaded rows are conventional produce. Numbers
represent Milliequivalents per 100 grams, dry weight.
Consumer resistance to genetically modified organisms, recent scares regarding
Mad Cow and Foot and Mouth disease in Europe, and closer to home, water
contamination issues caused by intensive livestock farming are additional
factors that are driving the growth of the market. Organic agricultural
production continues to be hailed as a positive alternative for overcoming many
of these challenges.
Approximately 2% of the U.S. food supply is grown using organic methods. Over
the past decade, sales of organic products have shown an annual increase of at
least 20%, the fastest growing sector of agriculture. In 2001, retail sales of
organic food were projected to be $9.3 billion (Organic Consumer Trends 2001).
Recent estimates of retail sales for organic products worldwide will tip the
scales at $ 37 billion (Cdn) in 2001. Double digit growth of 20-30% is expected
to continue — a growth rate rarely found in food markets. The market entry of
multinationals such as Heinz, Danone, Dole, Nestle, Mars, Novartis, Swiss Air
and Lufthansa are further propelling the growth of the industry. Trade of
organic foods has become a major business on global markets. Countries around
the world are implementing harmonized standards for organic agriculture,
providing assurances of equivalency that the international market requires for
trade. The largest trading areas – the U.S., European Union (EU), and Japan –
are currently implementing national legislated organic programs that govern the
production, processing, packaging/labeling and distribution of organic products
in the respective countries.
Approximately 15.8 million hectares are under organic production worldwide. The
largest areas are located in Australia (7.6 million hectares), Argentina (3
million hectares) and Italy (1 million hectares). Canada claims approximately
2,350 organic farms which have over 188,000 hectares under organic production.
This area continues to grow as Canadian farmers respond to unrelenting market
In India, Government has started to enhance the production of organic products
and its export, as India has great potential in the Agriculture sector. In one
move, the agriculture ministry has planned to develop model farms of 5-10
hectares in different states through Agriculture and Process food products
Export Agency (APEDA). In March 2000, the Ministry of Commerce launched the
National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), designed to establish national
standards for organic products which could then be sold under the logo `India
Organic’. To ensure the implementation of NPOP, the National Accreditation
Policy and Programme (NAPP) has been formulated, with Accreditation Regulations
announced in May 2001.
There are about 107 certified organic producers in the country for the products
(organic fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, sugarcane, basmati rice,
pulses, spices , wheat etc.).
The Organic certification in India is done by different certification agencies
like ECOCERT, SKAL. NATURLAND, SGS. IMO Controls. etc, in conformity with
various standards like IFOAM, Codex, EU 2092/91 and ISO-65.
Only 30 percent of India’s total cultivable area is covered with fertilizer
where irrigation facilities are available and the remaining 70 percent of the
arable land, which is mainly rainfed area, has not been using any fertilizer.
Also, it is estimated that around 600 to 700 million tonnes of agricultural
waste is available in the country every year but most of it is not properly
used. There are several alternatives for supply of soil nutrients from organic
sources like vermi-compost, biofertilizers etc. Technologies have been developed
to produce large quantities of vermi-compost. There are specific biofertilisers
for cereals, millets, pulses and oilseeds.
|Snap Beans Organic
Organic agriculture is in many ways an eminently preferable pattern for
developing agriculture and countries like India in particular. Organic
agriculture can offer multiple benefits. These include price premiums, natural
resource conservation (e.g. improved soil fertility and water quality,
prevention of soil erosion, preservation of natural and agro-biodiversity) and
social effects (e.g. generation of rural employment, promotion to eco-tourism
and corresponding lower urban migration, improved household nutrition and local
food security, reduced dependence on external inputs).
At Amby Valley we have planned and started the organic farming of fruits and
vegetables under the supervision of trained internal auditor of organic
certification. We are in the process of getting organic certification of our
vegetable farm products.