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Organic Farming

In Punjab, the highly input-intensive conventional agricultural production systems seem to be becoming unsustainable. Therefore, every effort is being made to identify and adopt feasible, profitable and eco-friendly crop/farm diversification plans. Organic farming can be a major option because of the increasing realisation that accumulation of chemical residues in soil, water and plants as a consequence of continued and inefficient use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides can result in severe human and animal health problems. Health consciousness about food and non-food products and their consumption is dramatically changing in favour of organic products. Though organically managed farms produce lower yields (particularly in the initial years) than conventional chemical-based farming, health consciousness has led to consumers being prepared to pay higher premiums (up to 100 per cent extra), particularly in the international market, which greatly helps in increasing the overall profits. Because of such realisations the demand and market opportunities for organic products is rapidly gaining momentum. To take advantage, innovative farmers in selected zones can be motivated to shift from conventional farming to organic systems. These farmers have, however, to be trained about the "why, what, where and how" of organic production, processing and marketing. Organic farming means using such cultural, biological and mechanical methods that maintain long-term soil biological activity, recycle organic wastes to return nutrients to the soil, provide alternate care for livestock and not using extraneous synthetic additives for growing crops or for post-harvest processing (chemical preservatives) so that the integrity of organic products is maintained until they reach the consumers. Under the organic milk farming system, disease-free milch animals are given pesticide-free feed and fodder. In the manufacture of organic dairy products special care has to be taken to exclude artificial or chemical ingredients like flavour, colour, sweeteners or stabilisers

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