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Organic Agriculture Development and Promotion
Why Organic…
For decades, since 1950s modern agriculture contributed significantly first by raising the productivity of land resources and second by offering more variety, quantities and conveniences to the consumers. But very soon on both fronts it started to fail very miserably. While the productivity could not be maintained at farm level without substantially increasing the cost of cultivation, for consumers, it delivered food with many new forms and types of contaminations and adulterants, seriously affecting the health of the consumers. For many so called modern lifestyle diseases, the scientific & medical communities hold the present day food responsible across the world.

Organic has been an outcome of consumer concerns regarding the quality of food. Today conscious consumer is demanding and is willing to pay for the food without contamination. Organic is essentially, natural and is based on a philosophy that respects nature and its dynamism to meet all the requirements of present and future generations.

India is blessed for many reasons. Despite the best efforts to introduce modern technology, we still have over 70 percent of our farming land, which is still untouched by so called modern toxic inputs. Even where the modern inputs have been used, there is some one in the family who still knows ‘how to produce without the chemicals’. The smallholding enables micro management, the very basis of organic certification in terms of practices and labor-intensive operations. Adoption to organic on one hand enables farmers to produce on sustainable basis, for the consumers it ensures adulteration – contamination free food. The biggest input being introduction of organic certification management as per International Standards such as NOP of United States, EU Regulations of European Union, JAS Standards of Japan & Indian Standards – NPOP etc, the organic sector is growing by 300 percent every year.The concern for ensuring enhancement of agricultural output with due respect to ecological limits has further strengthened organic agriculture movement in the world.

>>Why Organic Agriculture, Producer Perspective…

In many countries, organic agriculture and many of its components have been promoted in a reaction to the high external input based techniques ushered in during the green revolution, and consumer’s demand for better quality food. Generally, following issues have influenced the organic agriculture development:

•  In many European countries, personal commitment of the farming community has enabled initial steps to become wide spread movements. It is important to note that individual commitment backed by financial strength has been crucial in the early stages to overcome the doubts that arose about giving up chemicals altogether. For very long, individual farmers continued with traditional practices, essentially chemical free farming now known as organic farming.
•  The irrigation, new seed and fertilizers required high initial investments and, thus, were beyond the reach of majority of the small farmers. The emphasis on organic practices involving use of techniques such as nitrogen fixing crops and green manures, recycling nutrients through composting, deep rooted plants, avoiding soil loss, locally developed pest control measures etc. allows poor, risk-averse farmers to produce food and generate income for the families on sustainable basis.
•  Pressure on cultivated land has led to soil degradation. In many cases marginal lands have been used for cultivation by utilizing heavy amounts of external inputs. In large areas of cultivated land environmental damage is being associated with ‘modern’ agricultural practices.
•  The productivity of natural resources and income distribution in rural areas are closely interrelated affecting poverty. Wherever lands have become unproductive, it has led to income disparity. In many countries, farmers have opted for organic production system to free themselves from the need for buying expensive inputs.
•  In India, small, poor and marginal farmers practice rainfed farming which does not require much of chemical inputs. These farmers thus qualify as organic producers.
•  In many areas in India, the land productivity is declining, even with ever increasing use of external inputs. Such farmers on their own began exploring for alternatives and organic cultivation proved to be a viable option. Increasing cost of support at government level to agriculture in the country and low corresponding returns gradually led to reduced investment flows in infrastructure development by public sector, and also affected private investments. Organic agriculture with the potential for higher returns is expected to canalize new investments in this sector.
•  Globalization and world trade regulations on one hand are expected to increase competition, but on other hand also may offer an opportunity to organic producers in India who have been traditionally practising organic agriculture for generations and so have a distinct competitive advantages as compared to their overseas counterparts.

>>Know the Organic Producer…

Normally, everyone has an image of a farmer, which is entirely based on his or her own perceptions. However, most of the persons are not able to create an image of an Organic Food Producer. Based on our experience we have tried to draw his profile as follows:
•  A farmer becomes organic food producer by choice.
•  A farmer who believes that Mother-Earth and Nature can produce enough for everyone accepts the organic philosophy.
•  A farmer who is willing to work hard to produce inputs at the farm itself (rather than buying them for cash from outside) adopts organic practices.
•  A farmer for whom small reductions in yield and output is better than robbing the earth of its capacity to produce food on sustainable basis.
•  A farmer who is willing to adopt a prescribed procedure for maintaining complete records of his farm activities.
•  A farmer who registers himself with an external certification agency to verify his farm operations and their compliances with organic standards.
•  A farmer who even pays for registration, record maintenance, verification and certification so that a consumer can get food without chemicals.
•  A farmer who adopts most modern technologies and practices, but of different kind such as; Hygiene and Sanitation Standards, Food Safety Standards, Environmental Sustainability Standards, Social Responsibility Standards, etc.
•  A small farmer, who is doing so much for the quality conscious consumer, deserve your support as well. Join this revolution and contribute in whatever manner, you can. For participation, kindly go to Suggestions Menu on the left.

Why Organic , Consumer Perspective…

•  As early as 1980s, some super markets in the UK, US &other European Countries started stocking organic products. By 1997, one super market offered 182 product lines. This fast pace of rising demand has been instrumental in giving roots to organic agriculture development in the world.
•  Increasing number of middle class consumers and their willingness to pay a premium for quality food has generated new demand for value added products. Processed farm produce is finding ready acceptance in the markets.

Organic Consumer

Know why consumer want organic food !

Over the years, the so called modern technology has increased the overall availability of food products, in some instances even food products have been made to look better, and quite a few of them are now available round the year. In such a situation, why a person should consume organic food. We have listed here below, some of the reasons, kindly read them and give your opinions as well.
•  Almost everyone has been complaining that present day food products do not taste as good as it used to be.
•  There is a saying "Mother is the best cook" may be partially true because of emotional attachment but may be also because the quality of food ingredients are not as good as they used to be.
•  Almost everyone is today suffering from health problems related to stomach, indigestion, loss of energy, overall and general tiredness, etc. and food must have something to do with this feeling.
•  Almost all young mothers, today complaints about their children not eating well enough. A large majority of them compares their own food habits with their own children.
•  Everyone going out of home to eat food in restaurants, parties, marriages, get-together, etc. feels very heavy, even if they have consumed very small quantities of food.
•  Everyday new scientific evidences are being produced by researchers, “that many dreaded diseases such as diabetes, heart strokes, cancers, etc. are linked to the food presently being produced and consumed.
•  Large number of young professionals today gain weight even if they are eating very little.
•  Simple methods of cooking traditional dishes do not produce tasty meals, with the result in almost every preparations, far more number of garnishes, condiments, sauces, spices, fats, etc. are required to be added to make them eatable.
•  Many people today complaints about loss of food diversity in their everyday meals, the same is true, even when they are eating outside.
•  Everyone develops likes and dislikes about food. But number of dislikes today out number likes by 5-10 times. From the time modern technology and chemically assisted production methods are adopted, the number of dislikes is going up.
•  Many foods having mild flavors have lost their taste due to excessive emphasis on their quantity production and due to utter disregard for their quality parameters.
•  Many food products in the past were consumed because of their strong flavors, but present day cultivation methods and commercial considerations have turned them into products with bitter tastes.
•  Most of the commercial eating outlets deliver food with limited choices and practically with one common bland taste.
•  Large number of consumers have accepted limited variety and choice of food. For any adventurous consumer, new choices are just not being offered by the market.
•  We look forward to your contribution and suggestion to make this platform a place for informed ............. For participation kindly go to Suggestions Menu on the left and write your views.

Why Organic, For the Earth & Future…

Organic philosophy is inherently beneficial to the Earth, Environment & thus Future. Organic production & processing is based on a number of principles and ideas generally defined as Standards. They cover organic production at farm, processing, storage, labeling, and marketing activities ie the complete Value Chain in farming to food. The organic agriculture also aims to minimize the use of external inputs to reduce the cost of cultivation, thus benefiting both the producer as well as the consumers.

Organic agriculture covers all kinds of food & fiber production systems and can be defined as essentially a chemical free farming system to produce uncontaminated farm produce of high nutritional quality in sufficient quantities. It also allows agriculture producers to meet their needs by obtaining adequate returns, satisfaction from their work and a safe working environment. It aims to further create ecologically, socially and economically sustainable system of food and fiber production.

The principal aims& objectives of organic production and processing, are as follows:

•  To produce sufficient quantities of high quality food, fibre and other products.
•  To work compatibly with natural cycles and living systems through the soil, plants and animals in the entire production system.
•  To recognize the wider social and ecological impact of, and within the organic production and processing system.
•  To maintain and increase long-term fertility and biological activity of soils using locally adopted cultural, biological and mechanical methods as opposed to reliance on external inputs.
•  To maintain and encourage agricultural and natural biodiversity on the farm and its surroundings through the use of sustainable production systems and the protection of plant and wildlife habitats.
•  To maintain and conserve genetic diversity through attention to on-farm management of genetic resources.
•  To promote the responsible use and conservation of water and all life therein.
•  To use, as far as possible, renewable resources in production and processing systems and avoid pollution and waste.
•  To foster local and regional production and distribution.
•  To create a harmonious balance between crop production and animal husbandry.
•  To provide living conditions that allows animals to express the basic aspects of their innate behaviour.
•  To utilize biodegradable, recyclable and recycled packaging materials.
•  To provide everyone involved in organic farming and processing with a quality of life that satisfies their basic needs, within a safe, secure and healthy working environment.
•  To support the establishment of an entire production, processing and distribution chain which is both socially just and ecologically responsible.
•  To recognize the importance of, and protect and learn from, indigenous knowledge and traditional farming systems.

With the above objectives, there is no wonder that the whole world is now talking about organic agriculture as a true sustainable farming system'

Why Organic

Relevance of organic food production in larger socio-economic contexts !

In Twentieth Century, most of the advancements in agriculture were made with the introduction of modern technologies. Are we happy with these developments or the time has come to rethink about these modern technologies and their relevance. To understand this issue better, you may consider following points...
•  Beginning in 1980s, the organic philosophy for food production is still in its infancy. Does it not have substantial merits of its own! Or is it, not being allowed to grow because of vested interests!
•  In last 50 years or so of Twentieth Century, everything began to happen very fast. Technology produced fast cars, faster trains, fastest computers and so on. Even FAST FOOD has also been introduced as a modern concept.
•  Modern technology and chemical inputs enabled us to produce more food in lesser time. But within 25 years of their use, there is a question mark on the sustainability of these fast methods of food production.
•  All those who have adopted modern methods are now forced to use increasing quantities of modern inputs, even to maintain their current levels of production.
•  The modern technology leading to increased production on one hand and continuously increasing cost of production on other hand is affecting the very basic viability of food production system.
•  Large productive land areas are turning into barren lands due to excessive use of inputs. This is definitely affecting the long term food security.
•  Agriculture sector engages the largest number of human resource. For a large majority of them, production of food is turning into a struggling pre-occupation.
•  World over, almost every Government has been forced to subsidize agri-sector, India is no exception. Subsidies are given for inputs, mostly produced by large and organized private sector industries.
•  Despite ever increasing burden-flow of subsidy, while on one hand producers are continuously becoming poorer, on other hand consumers are also complaining about the ever increasing cost of living. But only all private industry players are showing increasing growth and profits. Is’nt it surprising?
•  Organic Standards requires that a producer will rely on inputs produced at the farm itself. Only this one practice can alone eliminate/reduce the dependence on inputs produced by the industries.
•  For a successful organic producer, a large diversity of activities on the farm unit is not only recommended but is also a prerequisite. Adoption of this practice diversifies the avenues for income even for small farmers.
•  Conservation and recycling of natural resource under organic management requires incremental human efforts. This practice increases the number of man-days employed on the farm. Substituting many expensive inputs as well as resulting into savings in cash expenses
•  Organic production and handling requires direct trade relationships. This eliminates the need for multiple number of middle men in the organic value chain. This practice offers the scope for substantial reduction in the cost of non-productive intermediary activities.
•  Direct trade with organized industries offers the scope for introduction of modern logistics and supply chain management practices. This practice will reduce the losses suffered during production to consumption by farm sector.
•  Direct trade, certification mark and delivery of packaged food products to consumers offers the scope for elimination of adulteration, price manipulation, contamination, etc.
•  Organized retailing of certified organic food would require fair amount of processing. This will add value benefitting everyone in the entire organic value chain.

We look forward to your contribution and suggestion to make this platform a place for informed ............. For participation kindly go to Suggestions Menu on the left and write your views.

Growth Story…

Way back in 1994 Morarka Foundation entered into a contract with the State Directorate Of Agriculture, Government of Rajasthan to take up an experiment for privatization of agriculture extension services supported by World Bank.

The participatory planning process involving over 10000 farm families, identified ‘reduction in the cost of cultivation’ as the core issue for interventions in Nawalgarh block of Jhunjhunu district in a semi arid region in India.

In its efforts to find solutions, it innovated on-farm fertility management practises based on ‘vermiculture technology’. Development and dissemination of this know how to over 100,000 farmers in 3 years made it to become the single largest producer of vermi-cast in the world. This technology was also awarded for excellence in technology innovation by Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India in the year 2001 and 2002.

Introduction of on-farm fertility management practises led to compliance with organic standards and thus the foundation started organizing farmer to take up one of the largest organic agriculture development program in India.

Over the years Morarka Foundation also evolved pro-biotic approach to pest management.

Since organic cultivation was intrinsically linked to certification, the foundation innovated IT based group certification norms in compliance with world organic standards.

While on one hand, the Morarka Foundation promoted small entrepreneurial initiatives in organic agri-businesses, it also facilitated linkages between organic producers and traders. In the year 2006-07 it set up its marketing arm, Morarka Organic Foods Pvt. Ltd to facilitate direct linkage between the consumer and producers.

•  In 1995-96, Morarka Organic began the Agriculture extension programme covering 10,000 farm families in 60 villages from Nawalgarh, Rajasthan. This endeavour was supported by the Directorate of Agriculture with assistance from World Bank. Being Morarka Organic’s first initiative, this project continues to be a laboratory for all initiatives. In 2003-04 around 100 farmers  have been certified by IITC through SGS for their certified organic production and international marketing under contract farming mode.
•  In 1996-97, 2500 farm families from 6 villages in the Jamwaramgarh district of Rajasthan were taken up for the integrated watershed development programme. This project was assisted by DRDA, Jaipur. The project area was treated for drought proofing through soil conservation measures. Subsequently organic methods of production were introduced and have been found sustainable in the long run
•  In 1998-99, 2000 farm families in 30 villages of Laxmangarh and Kathumar blocks of the Alwar district of Rajasthan were introduced to biological fertility management practises. This programme was assisted by the Department of Biotechnology in joint collaboration with IIRD of Jaipur. Majority of the farmers had set up their own organic input production facility. This enabled farmers to reduce cash outflow by 20-30%. Presently farmers use both biological and chemical inputs for fertility management.
•  In 2000-01, 1000 farm families in the earthquake affected region of Kutch, Gujrat were introduced to vermiculture technology.2000 farm families were added in the 2nd phase of the project and an addition 2000 farm families were added in the 3rd phase. This programme was assisted by the Department of Biotechnology and an international agency CARE INDIA. Sizeable proportion of farmers assisted to set up vermiculture facilities have adopted organic management practises. Formation of groups for organic certification has recently commenced. Many entrepreneurs have set up commercial facilities for organic inputs.
•  Between 1996-2004, Morarka Organic has assisted over 10,000 farmers in 25 districts from Rajasthan. It has initiated various developmental programmes to introduce vermiculture technology. These programmes have been supported by State and Central Government agencies. Beginning with vermiculture many farmers have adopted organic management practises as well.
•  In the year 2002-03 similar initiatives have also been undertaken in Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Gujarat to cover about 10,000 farm families. This programme was assisted by state government agencies with support from the private sector.The initiatives began with introduction of vermiculture followed by practises in organic management.
•  In the year 2002-03, Morarka Organic introduced biological inputs in agriculture to about 10,000 farm families in the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. This programme was assisted by the Department of Biotechnology. Introduction of organic agriculture concepts followed subsequently by facilities for the production of organic inputs.
•  In 2001-02, Morarka Organic introduced organic management practises in a few tea gardens in West Bengal, Kerala and the North-east. All programmes were implemented through professional service contract agreements.Farm management as per international organic standards and facilities for on-farm input production is being introduced as a combined package.
•  In 2002-03, Morarka Organic initiated a programme for setting up 100 CFCsas organic agri business centres in Jaipur with an enrolment of 10,000 farm families. This programme is a joint initiative by Morarka Foundation and State government of Rajasthan. Ten CFCs on pilot basis have been set up. Beside organic practises, precision management is also being introduced.
•  In 2003-04. Morarka Organic has initiated a programme under Rajasthan water restructuring project in Tonk district. This project is supported by the state government. Soil salinity-alkalinity problems are being solved through organic practises. Additionally micro irrigation is also tested.
•  In addition to group based programmes, the Morarka Foundation is also providing professional services to about 500 individual farms in different parts of India to introduce organic agriculture.

Farm tales- The beginning…

The origin of Morarka Foundation’s field activities from Nawalgarh, a semiarid region on the periphery of Thar Desert in India, has been a blessing in disguise. Extreme climates, very high temperatures, less than 500mm annual rainfall with only about 20 rainy days in a year, undulating lands, sandy soils and very little water for irrigation offered perfect conditions for testing the new technologies and methodologies for Organic Management. Any thing which could succeed here had very high success potential any where else, and this has been amply evident in the overall success achieved in last 10 years. Beginning with just about 500 farmers, in about 10 years, today there are now over 100,000 farmers spread all over India cultivating over 250,000 acres land under organic management. These farmers are producing over 300 different crops, out of which over 100 crops have already been brought under Organic Value Chain management.

Agriculture in Nawalgarh has not been remunerative enough, monsoon failures every five years had completely eroded the capacities to invest in agriculture. Most of the farmers had been cultivating few cereals, pulses and oil seed crops, with only about 15-20 percent area under irrigation during winter crops. The best was availability of milk animals on all the farms, though a large portion of animal dung was diverted for household fuel needs. In such a situation, addressing the fertility management issues and promotion of economical water use was very important. The first breakthrough was development of Vermiculture Technology. After experimenting with the process at a lab scale, within about six months there were about 500 farmers who joined the experiments at field level. In just one and half year this technology was found successful and adopted by over 10,000 farmers, forming the basis for the introduction of one of the largest organic agriculture program any where in India, also subsequently got recognized as a successful model for replication in many other places in India.

Morarka Organic was quick to identify farmers for whom organic cultivation was an opportunity. Conversion to organic could not be the  best option for every farmer in every place. Based on its experimentations at Nawalgarh, Morarka Organic identified the most suitable farmers, meeting following criteria:

•  An average of 5-7 acres of farmland.
•  Partial irrigation facilities ie up to 20-40 percent land area under irrigation during Kharif crops and about 20-30 percent area during Rabi crops.
•  Family farm unit, ie mostly managed by the family. So that incremental labor could be provided by the family members.
•  Farms having integrated operations ie the combination of crops and animals. The animal feed to dung being the most potent method for ensuring the recycling of crop residues.
•  Reasonably diversified crop portfolio ie an average of 4-5 crops being cultivated in a year, so that suitable crop rotation could be maintained.

Morarka organic identified that a farmer with the above profile would have the least constraints to convert to organic, in fact a farmer in this category will immensely benefit through this conversion. In the initial stages most of the farmers were motivated to join organic program for its ability to reduce the cost of cultivation.In many cases the cost of cultivation has been going up, due to:

•  Bullocks were replaced with tractors.
•  Seeds were bought from the market.
•  Chemical Fertilizers were purchased and used.
•  Use of chemical fertilizers increased pest management problems.

After 6 months of research, over 50 demo farms were set up. The biological fertility management approach ie complete recycling of farm waste assisted through proper microbial cultures and earthworms provided all the nutrients required by the crops. As a result of this  technology farmers realized that their grain size was bigger and the taste of the crops improved. Furthermore the soil was softer after ploughing, and softer soil meant that roots spread better. Less water was used for irrigation as the compost increased humidity in the soil. A portion of the seeds are saved, so that the farmer does not need to buy seeds anymore.

Under the guidance of Morarka Organic, farmer could now use his own farm inputs. They were made to carry out their traditional crop pattern and use their indigenous knowledge base.

As a result there was a 10 – 25 percent reduction in the cost of cultivation. There was an 10 - 20% increase in the price realization for the produce in the market because of quality. Biological fertility management reduced the incidence of pests. Overall the farmer made extra 30 percent profit in the first year itself.

Farm Tales- Spread of Farms India

Encouraged by the success achieved many State Agencies also got interested in this model. With their support, the Vermiculture know how dissemination through local entrepreneurs made us to expand this program to over 300 villages in many parts of Rajasthan. This program was also dovetailed with Watershed Development Program, to enroll over 25,000 farmers in just two years.

Subsequently Morarka got another major collaborator in the form of funding support from Department of Bio-Technology (DBT) Government of India. Beginning from Rajasthan to increase the production of wheat, DBT invited Morarka immediately after the earthquake in Kutch Gujarat, and thus one of the largest growing areas for the certified organic fruits like Papaya, Guava, Mango, Banana etc was created in India.

By this time Morarka was also able to establish the business linkages for some certified organic crops. The Buyers/Exports started demanding more crops and some crops in larger quantities. At this stage the new approach to build the complete kitchen food basket for an Indian home was adopted. This required introduction and implementation of this model in many other parts of the country suitable to deliver specific crops. In all about 30 new projects were launched across the country, and for almost all of them there was either a State Agency or Private Sector Company/Exporter, who provided the partial funding support and local acceptance.

Farm Tales- Spread of Farms India