Believe it or not, India has the highest number of organic farmers globally! India is home to 30 percent of the total organic producers in the world. But it accounts for just 2.59 percent (1.5 million hectares) of the total organic cultivation area of 57.8 million hectares.
Hiranandani Parks at Oragadam has joined the organic farming movement and tasted true success. Produce from its farms are a big hit with residents and those living in the neighborhood of the township. It has an ambitious plan to convert more land into organic farms given its many advantages. First and foremost, organic farming can save energy and protect the environment. It can slow down global warming, avoid the use of toxic chemicals and fertilizers. Let’s also not forget that more animals and plants can live in the same place in a natural way. This is called biodiversity. Yet another benefit is the fewer residues in food coming from organic farming.
Meanwhile, Sikkim is recognized as the country’s first organic state. But it has not been a complete success as the phasing out of chemicals in Sikkim was not complemented by a simultaneous increase in the availability of and access to organic manure. Pest attack on organic crops is another reason cited by the farmers for low productivity.
However, organic farming can be profitable, and organic food appeals to consumers as both a healthy and ethical choice. Beyond money and ethics, though, organic farming practices result in numerous environmental benefits, says environmentalist and writer Jennifer Chait. Some of her observations follow.
The Organic Trade Association notes that if every farmer in the U.S. converted to organic production, we could eliminate 500 million pounds of persistent and harmful pesticides from entering the environment annually. Pesticide and chemical use results in many negative environmental issues:
Pesticides allow disease resistance to build up in plants, weeds, plant-eating-insects, fungi, and bacteria. Pesticides and chemicals sprayed on plants contaminate the soil, water supply, and air. Sometimes these harmful pesticides stick around for decades.
Synthetic chemicals also discourage smart farming practices such as cover crops and crop rotation, which in turn, may cause other harmful environmental problems like erosion.
To grow healthy food, you must start with healthy soil. If you treat the soil with harmful pesticides and chemicals, you may end up with soil that cannot thrive on its own. Natural cultivation practices are far better than chemical soil management.
A large nine-year study by USDA Agricultural Research Service shows that organic farming builds up organic soil matter better than conventional no-till farming.
Just one teaspoon of compost-rich organic soil may host as many as 600 million to 1 billion helpful bacteria from 15,000 species, says Dr. Elaine Ingham. She notes that on the flip side, one teaspoon of soil treated with chemicals may carry as few as 100 helpful bacteria.
Studies have shown that a healthy organic agriculture system can actually reduce carbon dioxide and help slow climate change. In fact, research shows that if only 10,000 medium-sized farms in the U.S. converted to organic production, they would store so much carbon in the soil that it would be equivalent to taking 1,174,400 cars off the road or reducing car miles driven by 14.62 billion miles.
Dwindling water supplies and poor water health are very real threats. When our water supply is at risk, people and the planet end up suffering, says Chait.
Organic farming also helps conserve water in a water-starved city like Chennai. Organic farmers, in general, tend to spend time amending soil correctly and using mulch – both of which help conserve water. Organic farming not only helps preserve more natural habitat areas but also encourages birds to live happily on farmland, which assists in natural pest control.
In general, the more biodiversity there is on a farm, the more stable the farm is and the community around it. Which is exactly why Hiranandani Parks is passionate about organic farming.