Sustainable Organic Agriculture
The international community acknowledges that use of chemical inputs in agricultural activities must be regulated because of their harmful effect on human health and the environment. The need to come up with viable alternatives has brought into focus concepts like “Organic Farming” and “Sustainable Agriculture.”
Sustainable organic agriculture is being increasingly promoted by governments around the world. The focus is on achieving the decontamination of soil, water, and atmosphere through reduction or elimination of chemical inputs in agriculture. Toxic contents of some chemical inputs not only degrade the biodiversity of native ecosystems but are also detrimental to human health.
What’s being Done
Efforts are on to standardize regulations for the worldwide movement to curb farming practices that are ecologically harmful and socially unethical. The International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) is taking this initiative. The European Union has already come out with stringent regulations on what constitutes organic farming.
For organic farming to be successful, it must be economically viable. And this is where the problem lies. Commercial plantation crops are heavily dependent on chemicals to control pests and increase the yield. Even food crops need such chemicals.
The Small-Farms Sector Considering that small farms contribute over 70% of the world’s food produce, the small-farms sector needs to be educated on the negative impact of unregulated use of chemical inputs in agriculture. Specific government programs are required to provide them with scientific cultivation techniques, low-cost environment-friendly inputs, and profitable marketing avenues. Also, the facilities for procuring raw materials and selling crops should be close to the farm lands.
What needs to be Done
Correct the Fallacies
The common misconception that organic agriculture means reverting back to traditional farming methods (using only natural fertilizers and pesticides along with obsolete farming techniques) has to be dispelled. Cultivators should be made aware that besides avoiding the inefficiency of those methods, the new techniques of organic farming are far more beneficial in the long run.
Link Agriculture Policies to Bioconservation
There is a pressing need to preserve ecologically fragile biospheres by conserving primary ecosystems. This should be a priority of governments when formulating agricultural policies.
Make Good Crop Choices
Farming activities should concentrate on stimulating biodiversity through crop rotation. Choice of crops naturally suited to the area under cultivation will also sustain the local flora and fauna. These crops are likely to require less fertilizers and pesticides. Such regulated farming methods will ensure replenishment – rather than depletion – of natural resources in the farm lands.
General public awareness is an important factor to promote sustainable organic agriculture. An organized international campaign to promote environment-friendly agricultural techniques is essential.
Farmers and consumers should be informed of the benefits of cultivating wholesome agricultural foods that sustain natural life-cycle structures. They should know the stipulated guidelines and principles for conducting sustainable organic agriculture. Government agricultural policies should favor cultivators who adopt these agricultural principles.
It is time to generate a mass international campaign to promote healthy agricultural practices.