The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has invited applications for a course in organic farming. The ‘Certificate in Organic Farming’ has been designed in collaboration with the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) and will start from the varsity’s upcoming session. “The certificate programme aims at imparting knowledge and proficiency in organic production practices, certification process and marketing of organically raised agricultural produces and promoting self-employment and income generation.”
This move comes at a time when Finance Minister has emphasized the need to tap potential for development of organic farming in our North Eastern region. ‘With a growing global demand for organic food, people living in the NE states can reap a rich harvest for the development of commercial organic farming.’ he said in his Budget speech. Organic foods are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The demand for organic foods is primarily driven by personal health and environmental reasons. In the United States organic food sales have grown since 2000. In 2012, organic food sales in the United States generated approximately 31.32 Billion US Dollars and is predicted to generate about 42 billion US Dollars in 2014. In India, organic food is sold to premium clientele and select hotels and most of the organic produce is exported. However, there is a steadily growing demand and the industry estimates the organic food market within India at close to Rs 100 crores, having grown five-fold in the last seven years.
[creativ_accordion][creativ_toggle accordion=”1″ icon=”circle-arrow-right” heading=”Why go Organic?” onload=”open”]* Organic foods contain salicylic acids which help prevent certain diseases such as Cancer, stroke and other heart diseases.
* They have increased nutritious value and contain more mineral salts and other healthy chemicals than non-organic foods.
* Research performed on animals revealed that animals which fed on organic food were able to reproduce more than those which were fed non-organic food.[/creativ_toggle][/creativ_accordion]
Advantages of Organic over Non Organic Farming:
* Organic crops are more drought resistant.
* Organic Farming helps in maintaining biodiversity and soil fertility.
* Lower input cost and higher returns.
* Reduced risk of Global Warming.
* More micro organisms which store carbon in the soil thereby helping to maintain the global climate.
* Organic farming helps to conserve the soil and water.
So while the organic scores over the conventional farming, there is a need to strike a balance. In India, demand for organic food has not caught up hence food grown here is mostly exported. Increased organic output will need a receptive market to absorb the organic products. Additionally, export strategy will also have to be put into place. All this needs organisation and resources which are not available at the farmer’s end. Expertise in organic farming, handling, processing and marketing/export of the produce will need Govt and Corporate backing for Indian organic farming dream to materialize.