Organic farming can be life-saving for unemployed youths amid Coronavirus crisis
In India the organic food market is approximately of Rs. 5.6 billion and is an emerging opportunity for generation of employment and income at village level.
Coronavirus has paralysed normal life and restricted movements of migrant workers for at least one year. Neither the central government nor state government has sufficient resources to feed unemployed workers/youths for one year.
Unemployment is the gravest and greatest challenge our society faces today. The current population of India is 1,378,367,849, based on projections of the latest United Nations data.
There are 29 states in India. Their populations range massively in size – the largest, Uttar Pradesh, holds almost 200 million people, the smallest, Sikkim, just over half a million. As per Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, 27 million youth in the age group of 20-30 years lost their jobs in April 2020 following a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Organic farming can be life saving for these unemployed youths in present situation because there is large scope in organic farming. India is home to 30 per cent of the total organic producers in the world, but accounts for just 2.59 per cent (1.5 million hectares) of the total organic cultivation area of 57.8 million hectares, according to the World of Organic Agriculture 2018 report. Organic farming has to be understood in detail before stepping in it. The concepts of organic agriculture were developed in the early 1900s by Sir Albert Howard, F.H. King, Rudolf Steiner. Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared Sikkim as the first organic state in the country on 19 January 2016. He also called the state a harbinger of organic farming, not only in India but around the world. Currently India ranks 33rd in terms of total land under organic cultivation and 88th in terms of the ratio of agricultural land under organic crops to total farming area. In today’s time where people are falling prey to chronic diseases easily, who would like to risk their life with the harmful pesticides and fertilizers? We should know that there is a way to rescue ourselves from these life threatening chemicals and that is Organic Farming.
Organic Farming is a farming method which aims at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way that the soil is kept alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials.
Government is promoting organic farming through various schemes/ programmes viz National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)/ Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana(PKVY), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), National Mission on Oilseeds & Oil Palm (NMOOP) Network Project on Organic Farming of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and National Programme on Organic Production (NPOP) of Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).
National Centre of Organic Farming is also organizing the training programmes for farmers in Saansad Adarsh Grams (SAGs) from year 2015-16. There is needed to make villages of our country as organic farming hub. This will facilitate villages to promote efficient and sustainable use of natural, biological and human resources. This will also strengthen and upgrade rural food energy and livelihood security. A organic farming village/hub integrates various elements such as agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, soil and water conservation, entrepreneurship development, rural income improvement and ecological preservation using a cluster model approach for social economic development. It addresses crop production and other critical aspects like agri-input production, value addition, sustainable and clean energy, skill development, tourism and entrepreneurship development etc. According to many studies on employment opportunities in organic farming, organic farming requires more labour input than the conventional farming system. India which has a very large amount of labour unemployment and underemployment can generate agricultural jobs through organic farming in rural areas. In India the organic food market is approximately of Rs. 5.6 billion and is an emerging opportunity for generation of employment and income at village level. Therefore, it is pertinent to put emphasis on organic farming to generate job opportunities within states and avoid migrants of youths from one state to another state in search of jobs.
Points to dwell upon before starting an Organic Farm:-
- Learning the basics of natural and organic farming is the first step in starting an organic farm.
- The organic farm site should be near a clean water source as water is a non-negotiable resource for crop growth and health.
- The proximity of the farm to the marketplace also plays a big role in the sustainability of the farm.
- The farm’s closeness to the market allows for the easy transport and also helps in saving money in transportation of materials to the farm.
- It is extremely important to assess the site’s soil condition as well as the resources available.
- It is very important to know the type of market that a farmer is catering for. This consideration is very helpful in making the venture sustainable.
- Prepare the soil and make good compost because good soil means soil with nutrients necessary for the growth of plants.
- The process of growing a crop is a lengthy one. Organic farming takes time and it required more attention compared to conventional farming.
- There are certain techniques that need to be considered depending on the plant and farm condition.
- Regular watering is necessary for the plants to grow. Generally, plants are watered 2-3 times a day depending on their type as well as the location where they are being grown.
- Weeding is another important maintenance task.
- It is also very important to network with people who can help in selling farm products. These people also connects organic farmers to the right markets.
- Patience plays a key role because growing organic crops is a slow and tedious process. The farmer needs to be persistent and patient.
Various methods for practicing organic farming:
- Crop Diversity: Nowadays a new practice has come into picture which is called Polyculture in which a variety of crops can be cultivated simultaneously just to meet the increasing demand of crops.
- Soil Management: Organic agriculture initiates the use of natural ways to increase the health of soil. It focuses on the use of bacteria that is present in animal waste which helps in making the soil nutrients more productive to enhance the soil.
- Weed Management: Organic agriculture pressurizes on lowering the weed rather than removing it completely.
- Controlling other organisms: There are both useful and harmful organisms in the agricultural farm which affect the field. This can be done by the use of herbicides and pesticides that contain less chemicals or are natural.
- Livestock: Organic farming instigates domestic animals use to increase the sustainability of the farm.
- Genetic Modification: Genetic modification is kept away from this kind of agricultural set up because organic farming focuses on the use of natural ways and discourages engineered animals and plants.
Various advantages of organic farming:
- Farmers can reduce their production costs because they do not need to buy expensive chemicals and fertilizers.
- Produces healthier farm products.
- It save energy and protect the environment.
- It can slow down global warming.
- Fewer residues in food.
- Animals and plants can live in the same place in a natural way. This is called biodiversity.
- Pollution of ground water will be stopped.
- Reduced exposure to Pesticides and Chemicals.
- Organic Farming Builds Healthy Soil.
- Combatting Erosion:Erosion issues are extremely serious, affecting the land, food supply, and humans.
- It supports water conservation and water health.
- Discouraging Algal Blooms:Algal blooms (HABs) result in adverse effects on the health of people and marine animals and organisms.
- Employment opportunities for youths
- Challenge faced in organic farming:
- Lack of awareness on organic farming.
- Shortage of biomass.
- Marketing problem due to premium price of organic products.
- Inadequate supporting infrastructure.
- Lack of formulated policies of government.
- The certifying agencies are inadequate.
- The costs of the organic inputs are higher than inputs used in the conventional farming system.
- Lack of interest of youths in organic farming due to tedious process.
Points to overcome challenges faced in organic farming:
- Substantial financial support by governments is absolutely necessary to promote organic farming.
- Need to make organic farming an attractive proposition.
- A programme for organic agriculture must be fully supported by the full compensation both in cash and kind to the farmers in the event of the loss of production.
- Need to create platform to match supply and demand for organic products.
- Need to establish a proper links between supplier and buyer.
- A vigorous campaign to highlight the benefits of organic farming against the conventional system is essential to increase the awareness of the farmers and consumers.
- Identification of crops for cultivation on the organic farms is important.
- Short and long term loans for organic farmers with two percent interest rate for first five years and thereafter at four percent.
- Requirement of seperate colleges and agriculture University on organic farming.
- Government must offer lucrative business options for educated youths in organic farming
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