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Organic Farmer Role Model for Educated Indian Youth – Many From Corporate World

A reader, who is also interested in the organic food movement, shared a link to the following article.  It is so encouraging to hear about educated young people taking up organic farming instead of heading off to corporate jobs.

Many youngsters are pouring into Pakkam, a village in Thiruvallur district, about 35 km from Chennai to meet 37-year-old R Jeganathan, an organic farmer, who grows around thirty varieties of greens in his 2-acre leased farm.
In these days when people are quitting agriculture citing financial losses, here is someone who says agriculture is profitable.
Youth are looking up to Jeganathan for guidance in organic farming (Photos by P C Vinoj Kumar)
“The focus has to be on integrated farming. You need to take up dairy and poultry farming along with agriculture to make farming sustainable and profitable,” he says. Continue reading


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Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) Promotes Organic Farming

I’ve really come to admire the women of India and Pakistan.  Contrary to Western stereotypes, many Indian and Pakistani women are engaged and active in all spheres of society and are fighting for better standards of living for themselves and their communities.  In this Business Recorder article, Parvez Jabri spotlights the push toward organic farming undertaken by the Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

‘The government should adopt an organic farming policy, promote the use of genetically non-modified seeds, launch awareness campaign and bring at least 15 per cent of the land under organic farming,’ Founder President, IWCCI Founder President Samina Fazil said while addressing a workshop here.
Businesswomen should explore opportunities in the lucrative field of organic farming which promises good returns, benefits environment, boost production and conserve nature, she added.
Samina Fazil said that there is a great demand of different varieties among growing number of organic food consumers which can be exploited by the business community.
She said that organic farming can reduce cost by over 25 per cent by abandoning the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides; it minimize soil erosion by around 50 pc and increasing crop yields up to five-fold within five years.
Organic farming supports wildlife, improve entire ecosystems and reduce contamination in the ground water while dairies can ensure better livestock health, less sickness, and better milk and meat for consumers, said Samina Fazil.
Asking the business community to consider organic food stores across the country, she said that organically grown products are free from harmful chemicals, artificial flavours and preservatives which improve health and reduce healthcare costs.


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Indian Farmers Learn From Past Mistakes

Tan Cheng Li writes about a growing number of farmers in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu who are returning to the old way of chemical-free cultivation of crops:

YONG Weng Thing was amazed when he saw the field of spinach. Being a farmer himself, he knows good quality stuff when he sees it and quickly helped himself to the greens. A bunch of spinach in hand, he gestured a thumbs up to R. Venkatrasa, owner of the organic farm in a village in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
“Very good, very healthy,” quipped Yong. Showing me the leaves, he added: “See this layer of oil under the leaf? It helps repel insects. You don’t get this in vegetables grown using conventional methods.”
The farm was one of several stops for a group of 15 Malaysians on a trip to observe natural farming practices in Tamil Nadu. The visit was put together by the Consumer Association of Penang and on the trip were farmers who grow vegetables, sweet potato, mango, papaya and strawberry, as well as wholesalers and one agriculture researcher.
They hope to learn from the past mistakes of Indian farmers, who had relied on hybrid seed varieties, synthetic fertilisers and chemical pesticides which eventually robbed the soil of its nutrients and biological life, resulting in poor yield.
In Tamil Nadu, a growing number of farmers are undoing the mistake of the past by returning to the old way of chemical-free cultivation. Over the course of four days, the Malaysians observed how these farmers use home-made fertilisers formulated from farm waste, natural pesticides concocted from plants, and various techniques to grow produce with minimal water and without relying on costly, harmful chemicals.
Indian farmers are gradually going back to the sans-chemical traditional way of farming. At this market in Trichy.

A market in Tiruchirapalli, a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Some Indian farmers are going back to the traditional way of farming, one that does not rely on synthetic chemicals. — TAN CHENG LI/The Star Continue reading


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Organic cultivation: learning from the Enabavi example

INSPIRATION: The small village attracts farmers and policy makers. Photo: Special Arrangement.

By: M. J. Prabu

Reposted from The Hindu:

Is it possible to get a good yield without using chemical fertilizers? Will a shift to organic affect our food security? Can we manage insect pests without using pesticides? Will organic cultivation still be profitable for farmers?

These are some of the often asked questions by farmers when problems of modern agriculture are being discussed.

Enabavi, a small village in Warangal district, Andhra Pradesh promises to answer all these.

Situated off the Hyderabad-Warangal highway near Jangaon town, Enabavi is today an inspiration for many other villages and farmers, thanks to the efforts of the local organization called CROPS (Centre for Rural Operations Programmes Society) supported by the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA). Continue reading


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Organic Agriculture – Best Way to Reduce Dead Zones

Karen Adler at the Organic Farming Research Foundation reports on how organic agricultural practices can reduce dead zones that are increasing around the world:

Did you hear that the area in the Gulf of Mexico known as the dead zone is soon expected to reach the size of New Jersey?  Due to heavy spring flooding in the Midwest, with a lot more nitrogen-based fertilizer ending up in the Gulf, this year’s dead zone could be the biggest on record. And there are, unfortunately, many other areas in the U.S. and around the world with dead zones created by unsustainable practices.  Dead zone is a term commonly used to describe the results of hypoxia. This dramatic impact of chemical-based agriculture on biodiversity and the environment occurs when agricultural nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, leach into waterways and wash downstream, accumulating in the waters of an estuary or bay. The decomposition process depletes the oxygen. Marine life flees or dies when oxygen levels get too low for their survival. Bird and animal populations that feed on marine life also shrink as their food sources disappear.
Organic agricultural practices greatly reduce the conditions that create dead zones. Organic farmers do not use chemical fertilizers, the main culprit. Their sources of nutrients, including cover crops, compost, manure, and mineralized rock, are natural and less soluble. Organic practices lead to increased soil organic matter and healthy soil, which enables water to slowly infiltrate the ground, rather than moving along the surface, carrying soil and nutrients with it. Healthy soil structure also encourages plants to establish vibrant, erosion-resistant root systems.


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Bali seeks to improve energy self-sufficiency

From the Jakarta Post, Bali seeks to accelerate its energy and agriculture self-sufficiency programs:

In line with its mission to be a “clean and green” and “organic” island, Bali should accelerate its energy and agriculture self-sufficiency programs, an NGO has urged.

I Gede Suarja, coordinator of the BIRU program with the Yayasan Rumah Energi (YRE) foundation in Bali — a program that has initiated the use of household biogas digesters, said that being self-sufficient in energy and agriculture could be achieved by optimizing the use of alternative energy.

“Not only would it save the consumption of non-renewable energy, as in the BIRU program, but it would also support organic farming through the use of bio-slurry [the residue resulting from biogas production] as organic fertilizer for farmland, so farmers would no longer depend on chemical fertilizers,” Suarja said recently.

As an organic fertilizer, bio-slurry had been proven environmentally friendly and able to improve farm land productivity, he said.

According to Suarja, although the island had great potential to produce biogas, the use of this alternative energy was still limited.

“There is great potential to produce biogas, a renewable energy, from livestock dung, as many families in Bali breed pigs, chickens and cows,” he said, illustrating that on average, each farming family on the island bred two to three cows and four to five pigs, which was sufficient as a source of biogas.


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One More Reason to Eat Organic: We’re running out of fertilizer

AUTHOR: 

fertilizer

One of the most frustrating aspects of the organic food “debate” is the fact that the conversation seems to be stuck debating whether organic food is more nutritionally dense than conventionally-grown food. So when studies come out showing that you won’t get more vitamins from eating organic, conventional growers use that to bash organic farming. They call it elitist, unnecessary, and even imply that organic consumers are… well, jerks.

The problem is that the question of whether or not you can get more vitamin C from an organic orange is completely irrelevant. Maybe, maybe not. But there’s no question that avoiding pesticides and herbicides is healthier than eating food coated in them.

On a larger scale, focusing the conversation almost entirely on individual choice and individual health also misses the mark. Whether or not organic food is that much healthier for consumers in the long run, there’s no question that organic farming is healthier for the planet.

Case in point? It turns out industrial farming is draining the soil of phosphorus — an essential nutrient necessary for agriculture and life itself. That’s not an exaggeration: human beings, like all other life on earth, depend on phosphorus to create healthy cells.

Throughout history, farmers traditionally maintained phosphorus-rich soil by composting plant waste and using manure fertilizer. In the mid-20th century, that all changed. We started mining phosphorus from the Earth itself and using chemical fertilizers instead. It’s not hard to understand why: just sprinkling a little phosphorus on your field is cheaper and a whole lot easier than composting.

There are just two problems with this approach. The first is that the large amounts of phosphorus aren’t completely absorbed by crops. It leaches into nearby waterways. It spreads into lakes and rivers. And once it’s there? It causes algal blooms that create dead zones in the water, devastating the local ecosystem.

The other obvious problem is that we’re running out of phosphorus to mine. And when the world starts to run out of cheap phosphorus in the coming decades, the world’s poorest people are going to starve.

The good news is we can avoid this catastrophe. It won’t be easy, but a combination of consuming less meat, reducing food waste, and shifting to farm techniques that conserve soil nutrients will help recycle phosphorus instead of wasting it. In the next couple of decades, agriculture will have to become more sustainable in order to survive.

So the next time someone tries to tell you that eating organic is elitist, trendy, or doesn’t make a difference… Let them know you’re just doing your part to help the rest of the planet.

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Julie is an American writer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She writes about green living, education politics, and the environment.