This is a series of deliberations about the politics behind popular market and the opportunities for successful organic agriculture markets as well as alternative markets …
Before viewing few more successful organic markets, let us consider the accusation against organic farming that ‘it cannot feed the world population’.
Even those who ideologically accept organic farming have a doubt ‘whether large production is possible with the organic farming’ methods. It is always prudent to think of the challenges involved in while considering the benefits of a particular aspect. It is applicable to agriculture too. Let it be a chemical farming or an organic farming it is essential to assess the benefits and challenges involved with those activities. And it should be intensively debated too.
We can be assertive about whether organic farming could feed the whole world only when the farmers of the whole world convert to organic farming fully and only when we come to know how much the production is. Without that data there is no need to blabber about it. Before chemical farming was being introduced, the people of the whole world were fed only by organic farming methods. But the people became fearful due to sudden famines that happened in those days. The fear of famines was capitalized by the international companies in favor of their business.
If the best practices of agriculture were to be discontinued ,false allegations about those practices should be spread over and impose alternatives in somebody’s favor. This was executed cleverly by the international companies.
As per the government statistics and various researches there was no lack of food production in the past. The problem that still continues is only the food distribution. The current stock in hand is double the time what is needed. We can cite a recent example. When the Congress party was ruling the Centre, the ‘People’s Union for Civil Liberties’, a part of All India Human Rights Commission, went to the Supreme Court with a litigation on right to food. The verdict was that ‘the food wastage incurred at the Indian warehouses can be distributed to the poor’ by the Supreme Court.
The Central Government replied to that ‘if we do so there will be a steep fall in price. We would even dump it in the ocean but never give it free to the poor’. Only after the Supreme Court angrily responded saying, ‘it was not a suggestion but the verdict’ that the Central Government yielded to it. There are many other such examples available.
By organic farming we can definitely fulfill the food and micronutrient need of our country. We can even say that organic farming method is the only possible way to sustainable agriculture and livelihood. Food security and food safety are possible only with the organic farming methods. The growing numbers of organic farmers and also the markets for organic products assure this fully.
One of the reports of the United Nations, by the Committee comprising of four hundred international experts from fifty eight member countries says that ‘the hunger of the world can be eradicated only by the small farmers who follow non poisonous organic way of farming’. Hunger and poverty cannot be eradicated by chemical way of farming, mono culture and genetically modified crops, and they are not at all suitable to eradicate either hunger, poverty or capable to face the environment, energy and economic challenges’.
The Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania in America has been conducting experiments in various farming methods since 1981. It conducts experiments by growing the same crop both chemically and organically. It has conducted many such experiments with many crops for years. This is the only research institute in the world that conducts long term experiments on various crops.
The institute concludes from those experiments that ‘except for the first two years, that too only for a few crops, more yield is possible only with the organic farming methods in all the ensuing years. For about thirty years this Institutes has been recommending the whole world that organic farming is the best method. Further details of the Institute can be referred from its website, https://rodaleinstitute.org/our-work/farming-systems-trial.
There is also an extensive research conducted in our country by the Indian Agriculture Research Institute. In the name of ‘Modipuram Integrated Research’, an extensive research where 28 varieties of crops including paddy, wheat, soya, ginger, cotton, maize, sesame, lady’s finger, tomato, turmeric, in about thirteen states in India, was conducted. The research which considered various aspects of crop production capacity, stability and profit concluded that all crops provided more yield by organic farming methods. Many crops yielded 20% more than chemical way of farming. And some crops yielded only 10% more. But the important point from the research is that not even a single crop that yielded lesser than the chemical farming.
As usual the government did not publish the results of this research. But there was a reference made in the Parliament during a question-answer session about the results of that research and ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture), a nonprofit organization gathered the results of the research through right to information act.
ASHA has published a book comprising of 450 researches on organic farming. Those who say that organic farming cannot feed the world must read the book. The benefits of organic farming and its various aspects in relation to soil and microbial fertility, health aspects, sustainability, yield are detailed in the book (Ecological Agriculture in India: Scientific Evidence on Positive Impacts & Successes, published by ASHA, Feb.2015/, and to download use the following, http://vikalpsangam.org/static/media/uploads/Resources/ecological_agriculture_in_india_scientific__evidence.pdf
There are many other research evidences that reveal the improved production through organic farming. Even if scientists who are impartial recommend organic farming as a better method none gives importance to it except few media. That is why those aspects of research evidences do not reach the farmers and public. One such research evidence can also be referred from the following website, http://www.pnas.org/content/112/24/7611.full.pdf
With organic farming, ecology will remain at its best, biodiversity will be protected, and there will be improved livelihood, and health. The toxic substances will be removed from the soil, water, air and living organisms including human beings. Above all, the farmers can remain self reliant and live with dignity.
India is a country with diversified seeds. There are medicinal and nutrient rich traditional seeds, saline resistant seeds, and other varieties that can sustain flood, drought and pestilence, available in India. For thousands of years, these seeds have been improved, saved and shared by the farmers as an open book, without involving any knowledge patent related issues. It is totally an injustice meted out to the farmers of India by donating the seed rights to the private organizations for greed.
The only way to rehabilitate farming and the lives of the farming community is the organic farming. By virtue of this understanding about and commitment to organic farming let us come and work together.
To be continued...
(This series of articles written in Tamil by Ananthu has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)