Mahatma Gandhi has rightly said that nature will give enough for the needs of the humankind but not for their greed. Keeping this in mind, it becomes really important to assess the present scenario, wherein the needs of the people are drastically increasing. Organic farming is a method of cultivating plants in a natural way. It was a farming method which was practiced by most farmers worldwide even before the advent of chemical manures, pesticides, fungicides and weedicides. It became extremely popular after the Second World War.
Today, organic family is seen as a self-sustainable practice, which is also termed as permanent farming or permaculture. This is because an organic farm works on a zero budget model and the ingredients such as seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides etc., required for this method of farming are prepared using the plants and animals available in the farm. Thus, there is no need for an organic farmer to procure materials from external sources. Rearing livestock and growing trees of green value are important pre-requisites to establish an organic farm. The farmer can use the entire produce from the livestock for his personal use and even for producing the fertilizers and pesticides for his farm. Besides, he could also sell those products in the market adding to his profit.
There are various factors that are necessary for the self-sustenance of an organic farm. A typical organic farm is an integrated farm, where livestock such as cow, sheep, chicken, fish etc. are raised. Trees of wood value such as Teak, Rosewood, Mahogany, Sandal etc. which are of economic value are grown on the borders of the farm. A variety of fruit bearing trees such as Papaya, Guava, and Custard Apple, which are grown for self-consumption as well as for making certain liquids to enhance the productivity of plants are also grown. Honey bees have to be reared for enhancing pollination. The honey produced out of this process can be utilized by the farmer or it can be sold.
Small trees such as Gliricidia (Quick Stick), Acacia, and Subabul (River Tamarind) are grown to serve as fodder for animals, as well as for mulching which plays an important role in organic farming. Mulching can be done either with dead leaves of plants or by growing cereals and pulses in the farm. This helps to control weeds while at the same time increases the fertility of the soil. The micro-organisms growing in the root of the legumes fix nitrogen in the soil. Application of Acetobacter and Phosphobacter also help in fixing nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil. The by-products of the cow-like milk, cow dung and urine can be used for a variety of purposes in the farm. The cow dung releases gas which can be used in cooking. Vermicompost is made out of cow dung, dead leaves, etc. A variety of fertilizers and pesticides is also produced out of these by-products.
Using the urine, dung, milk, ghee and tender coconut, a farmer can make “panchakavya”, a mixture which is used as a fertilizer. It also helps in controlling pests. Liquids which can effectively enhance the productivity of plants can be made by mixing coconut, buttermilk and cow urine. Similarly, pesticides are made out of the leaves which are normally not consumed by the livestock (like Neem). These pesticides are made through different processes, one of which is fermentation. Additionally, seeds of neem are also used for making pesticides. These pesticides do not harm the beneficial insects which aid plant growth, but help the farmers in the eradication of harmful insects which destroy the plants. Fish wastes and peels of fruits can also be made use of in making liquids rich in amino acids. To sum up, a farmer practicing organic farming in an integrated way need not spend money for the requirements of his farm.
Practicing organic farming is useful to the society and the environment. It helps in improving and sometimes even increasing the soil fertility. A good thing about organic farming is that a parched land can also be made fertile by method like sowing cereals and ploughing it after two or three months, spraying panchakavya, mulching etc. In fact, the efforts required by an organic farmer are very limited, because the useful micro-organisms and insects often take care of a majority of the processes to increase productivity. Organic farming also uses very less amount of water as compared to the modern farming methods. This is because when organic manure is used the water retention capacity of the soil increases. The agricultural produce which one receives out of an organic farm also has a tendency to fetch a good profit to the farmer in the market, as they are pure and free from chemicals.
The Government must also help in establishing co-operatives in order to make the organic farmers as members and by creating marketing avenues for their produce. The Green revolution has led to a devastating effect on the soil due to persistent use of chemical manures, pesticides, fungicides and weedicides. Nowadays, agriculture has become an unprofitable occupation as there has been a drastic increase in the prices of the input sources. A farmer practicing inorganic form of agriculture has to spend a lot of money on the inputs, and the hybrid seeds require more water than the native seeds. This often results in farmer suicides. They become trapped in this vicious cycle of heavy losses losing their lives at the end of the day. In such a situation, organic farming is the best alternative that is not only sustainable giving an assurance of bountiful crop, but also a practice which gives peace to the farmer.
Picture Courtesy- Suminter India Organics