Ever wondered why a beautifully ripened mango that you purchased from the nearby supermarket tasted more like a papaya or at worst tasteless? The reason is a chemical compound that could have been used to prematurely ripen the mango fruit.
Agriculture has been an age-old source of human sustenance and a lot of people are involved in farming. The traditional way of growing crops was quite simple. Farmers would sow the seeds in an appropriate season and use natural manure to nourish the soil. Over the years, with growing demand and with smaller available arable land per head for undertaking agriculture, especially in India, a number of companies have started to manufacture various kinds of synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers to help the farmer increase overall output from agriculture. Harmful chemicals used to grow crops find their way into humans when they consume them. These chemical are carcinogenic in nature and can cause severe health issues to humans in long term.
Organic agriculture has got more voice and shown an increase in demand amongst farmers. The prime reason being over the years people have become health conscious. As per Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations, “Organic agriculture is a unique production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity, and this is accomplished by using on-farm agronomic, biological and mechanical methods in exclusion of all synthetic off-farm inputs”.
The key features of organic farming include:
· Taking care of crop disease, weed and pest control by implementing crop rotations which mean growing such varieties of crop that replenish the soil of used minerals for the other crop variety.
· By using only indigenous seeds and not the genetically modified ones.
· By using only organic manure derived from vegetable matter and animal matter.
· By using naturally made pesticides.
· Nitrogen self-sufficiency through the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation, as well as effective recycling of organic materials including crop residues and livestock manures
Effect of Green Revolution
In the Bengal famine of 1943 more than 1.5 million people lost their lives. This made the government think of a western approach towards agriculture. Thus in the early 1960s started the Green Revolution wherein several measures were included in the agriculture process to increase the yield. The process inculcated the use of pesticides, insecticides, synthetic fertilizers and hybrid seeds. There were negative effects of using chemicals for agriculture. These chemicals not only found its way to the human body as mentioned earlier, they also reduced the fertility of the soil and polluted the ground water.
How is India doing?
While most of the vegetables, fruits, and cereals that are available in the local market or in the supermarket have un-organic sources, these shops are also stocking the organically grown food due to increasing awareness among the people. In India, Sikkim is the first state that has gone fully organic. The government foresaw the negative impact on the environment by use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers in the small state. The government had launched the program in 2003 and currently, the implementation is overlooked by Sikkim Organic Mission. The law is very tough and a farmer can be fined up to Rs. 1,00,000 if found using pesticides or chemicals. India as a whole has a long to go in terms of stringent by-laws that can serve as guidelines for the farmers who are growing crops organically. But it’s a step well taken in the right direction.