Organic gardening in India is quite different from other parts of Asia. Indian conditions require more time and effort to yield good results. Organic farming in India generally has less options, and seasonal crops are severely restricted during the initial years. Organic agricultural produce is generally low in the initial years; hence the major disadvantage of organic gardening in India is the deficiency of adequate infrastructure and marketing of the organic products.
Organic farming systems in India consist mainly of three distinct strategies; crop rotation, biological pest control and mechanical harvesting. Crop rotation enables farmers to avoid diseases, pests and rodents that may destroy their crops. Rotating crops help reduce environmental impacts caused by cultivation. Mechanical harvesting facilitates mechanical procedures for removing surplus crops. Biological pest control aids in controlling the population of selected pests and also helps reduce chemical pollution. A proper planning of fertilization and usage of pesticides, if required, is very important for ensuring that the yield is satisfactory.
Organic farming requires a detailed understanding of the principles underlying it. Two types of principles are commonly recognized as ‘ecological’, based on biological principles and ‘social’, on social principles. Based on the principles of social and ecological theory, these types of organic farming systems have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. This article is an attempt at describing the various pros and cons of each of these types of principles. This article treats organic farming systems on the basis of principles relating to the types of principles.
There are two categories of principles relating to biological principles; soil erosion and chemical erosion. Biological principles are mainly applicable to agricultural farms with natural landscapes. Chemical erosion occurs when chemicals act on the soil causing it to lose nutrients and eventually lead to plant death or loss.
Both types of principles aim to protect the environment by limiting the use of synthetic materials like pesticides and fertilizers. In chemical types of organic farming, biological amendments are used to correct problems caused by overuse of chemicals and fertilizers. The beneficial effects of these amendments do not show immediately but occur over a period of time. On the other hand, the harmful effects of chemicals tend to be immediately felt. Therefore, the aim is to balance the levels of harmful substances by using fewer synthetic products.
The principles of social and ecological theory are present in organic agriculture too. The aim is to enhance and promote the natural balance of the ecosystem through appropriate use of plants and animals. The four principles of organic agriculture include harmony in land management, fairness in access to land and water, protection of water and air, and respect for the rights of people living on the land. These four principles form the basis of organic farming and are necessary for its long term survival.
Although there have been many disadvantages experienced by many farmers in the use of chemicals, there have also been several significant advantages in organic farming. Many farmers in India have experienced increases in yields after switching from conventional breeding to that of biotechnology. There have been reports of improved nutrition in children who consume organic products. Some of the major advantages of organic farming in India include: farmers get maximum yields from their lands; chemical-free products do not pollute the environment; and the government ensures fair practices to all farmers in the country.
Biotechnology is an emerging solution to some of the issues faced by conventional farmers in India. This technology helps improve the productivity of conventional and organic farms by introducing better types of management systems. These include improved crop production systems, soil management techniques and pest control methods that can be used safely in the future. However, these types of technologies will only be able to fulfill the promises of an improvement in the nutritional quality of the food we eat if our natural resources are never depleted.