Realising the virtues of organic farming

Realising the virtues of organic farming THE FUNDAMENTAL theme of organic farming or natural farming is its ecological approach: It makes maximum possible use of organic wastes, originating from the farm, to keep up soil fertility.

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), which has 360 member organisations in more than 65 countries, unites their efforts to promote organic agriculture as an ecologically and socially sustainable method of food production. It not only minimises environmental pollution, but also reduces use of non-renewable natural resources. It also publishes a quarterly internal letter, which reports on IFOAM activities.

Gopalakrishnan and Vijaylakshmi have a farm in Attappedy in Kerala, where they have been growing cereals, pulses, vegetables and tubers for over seven years without using any synthetic fertilisers. Their organisation -- Saarang -- is involved in activities such as education, documentation and networking to promote natural farming. The couple also plans to train other farmers in the area in natural farming practices.

Agriculture Man Ecology in Pondicherry seeks to make marginal farmers self-reliant through ecological agriculture. Twice a year, it conducts training programmes for farmers, officials and NGO activists.

Kudumbam has a farm in Odugampatti in Pudukottai district, where training and demonstrations are given on using plant-based pest repellants, preparing compost, mulching and conserving water. Kudumbam also brings out a monthly newsletter in Tamil -- Pasunthalir -- which highlights the advantages of recycling agricultural wastes and lists the names of farmers and agencies practising organic farming.

Dharitri is a voluntary organisation in Karnataka, which is creating awareness about sustainable agriculture. Issues like vermiculture, composting, organic farming and other sustainable methods of agriculture are taken up on a regular basis. They also provide organic produce to consumers on request. The Ladakh Ecological Development Group, an NGO, promotes ecological and sustainable development based on traditional methods. Among its activities in development and dissemination of appropriate technologies is propagation of traditional organic farming.

Kasturbagram Krishi Kshetra has been practising organic farming in Madhya Pradesh for over a decade. The organisation recycles farm, home and animal wastes, practises biological control of pests and uses organic manure. They hold exhibitions, train farmers and arrange workshops and seminars. Kasturbagram received the Lal Bahadur Shastri Award for Progressive Farmer in 1988.

A vermicompost technology developed by M R Bhiday, director of the Institute of Natural Organic Agriculture (INORA) in Maharashtra, has been disseminated to farmers through a network of 20 INORA centres throughout India. INORA also conducts educational and research-cum-demonstration programmes.

The Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi has compiled a comprehensive database on institutions, agencies and individuals practising and promoting organic farming.

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