Monday, July 11, 2011

Organic Agriculture in India

It seems that every week another newspaper publishes a story about India’s success in implementing organic farming in the country side.  With issues of hunger and food security remaining a priority in national policy, and more than half of India's population working in the agriculture sector, this widespread implementation of organic can be a model for other locations.  Most farms in India are small, making the cost of fertilizer and pesticides prohibitive for farmers.  A recent article in The Hindu reported that the number of hectares used for certified organic agriculture increased from 42,000 in 2003-2004 to 4.4 million in 2010.  There are 320,000 hectares in the process of being converted to organic as well.  The Ministry of Agriculture is promoting organic farming through the National Project on Organic Farming as well as through a horticulture mission and a technology mission.  The National Project on Organic Farming provides production infrastructure, technical capacity building, human resource development, standards for quality control of organic inputs and technology and market development.  Some of the food was exported, creating a beneficial income for farmers, but most was produced for Indian consumption.  Nine Indian states have drafted organic farming policies and four states have declared intention to convert all agriculture to organic production.  The state of Sikkim has already converted 40% of the total cultivated area to organic. 
A New York Times article, published in June and titled “Organic Farming Finds a Growing Fan Base in India” focuses on the work of a nonprofit biodiversity center and farm named Navdanya. Founded by Indian environmentalist and social justice advocate Vandana Shiva, this organization trains farmers about organic methods.  Many farmers and similar organizations have found that more ecological farming methods increase the output of overall nutrition and quality while reducing agricultural input costs. 
In the United States, it is important to consider the viability of organic in other parts of the world and to keep in mind that investments in organic agriculture research and development can benefit farmers and consumers in any location, now or in the future.
For more information check out these newspaper articles:

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