Organic farming has little scope, reveals report

Written by Swarleen Kaur | Chandigarh | Updated: Dec 31 2008, 06:38am hrs
Total organic sources are not adequate to fulfil the total nutrient demand of the total area under crops currently, reveals a recent report.

The report, compiled by the Punjab State Farmers Commission called Organic Farming, How Far It Can Go, reveals that the estimated total organic sources (farmyard manure-FYM) are hardly sufficient for 15% of wheat and 20% of rice growing area of Punjab.

In the remaining area, without chemical fertilisers, the yield decline could be 25% in case of rice and 60% in case of wheat. Even if we assume reduction of 20% for the country as whole, the reduction in food grain production will be about 25-30 million tonne from irrigated area of wheat and rice not covered by the organic sources which will pose a serious threat to the national food security, the findings of the study said.

The debate over switching over to organic farming has cropped up several times in Punjab which has the highest per hectare usage of chemicals in the country. While soil fertility has declined, consumption of chemical fertilisers has increased more than eight times in last 35 years in the state.

The state has highest per hectare usage of fertilisers (192.5 kg) and pesticides (923 gm) in the country. There was a demand to frame a concrete policy on organic farming from a section of agriculturists and NGOs after which the study was conducted.

However, experts agree that organic farming has a good scope to cover 10-15% of the Punjab's farmland provided farmers start getting good price.

Sharing more details about the report with FE, Kalkat said, There are roughly 2 animals per hectare and the total livestock population is less than 9 million for the net sown area of about 4.2 million hectare. There is requirement of 17 animals per hectare to fulfill the demand of nitrogen. The premium price of the organic food is the major determinant of the profitability of organic farming and has a limited scope.

Besides, there is no organised market for organic produce. There is hardly any scientific study exists on the taste difference of the same variety of crop grown under organic and inorganic system. Moreover there are both positive and negative views on whether organic food is more nutritious and safer, he added.