If farmers in Jammu and Kashmir are equipped with the right resources and marketing techniques, they will be able to grow organic fruits, vegetables, and other food crops and sell them across India and abroad. Then, organic farming in J&K will surely have a bright future.
Organic farming is gaining momentum across the globe because of increasing concern of people on health and environment. In organic farming non-toxic methods are applied to manage the insect-pests, diseases and weeds and thus improves the natural resources in the soil including soil and water quality. Organic farming reduces the risk of yield failure, stabilizes the crops production and improves the quality of lives of the people. Organic farming respects the environment by friendly practice of weeds, insect-pests and diseases control. The term ‘Organic Farming’ was coined by Northbourne (1940).Organic farming is a method of farming system which primarily aimed at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way ,so as to keep the soil in good health by the use of organic wastes and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes. Nutrients are provided to crops for increased sustainable production in an ecofriendly and pollution free environment. The aim is to create integrated, human, environmentally and economically sustainable production system which maximize reliance on farm derived renewable resources and management of ecological and biological processes and interactions so as to provide acceptable level of crop, livestock and human nutrition, protection from pests and diseases and appropriate return to the human and other resources. Organic farming means holistic production systems which refer earth friendly methods for cultivation and food processing. It differs from other systems by the certification procedures, specific standards and a specific labeling scheme. Insecticides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, growth hormones and antibiotics are not used in organic farming. Ecofriendly techniques are employed to increase the production. Organic farming is based on the integral relationship and we need to understand the relationship between different entities of a farm. The organic farming is based on organic relationship. Organic farming can be perceived as a system which should always be in search of natural alternatives suitable to the local specificity. The organic manures supply the nutrients in the soil, promote microbial activities and improve physical, biological and chemical properties of soils.
Agriculture is the backbone of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. This sector provides employment directly or indirectly to around 70 per cent population of J&K. Agriculture contributes about 65 per cent of J&K revenue which signifies the overdependence of the J&K on agriculture. The Environment Sustainability Index of J&K is worsening and is a matter of grave concern for the scientists and policy makers. There are various factors which are responsible for the environmental catastrophe in J&K. The use of fertilizers and other agrochemicals has started to increase in J&K which deteriorates the soil health. Organic farming is a method of farming in which we largely exclude the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones and we maintain the soil fertility by the organic manures, green manures, crop rotation etc. It is a unique system of farming which sustains the agro-ecosystem including biodiversity and soil biological activities. Organic farming can prove as a major tool for the second green revolution especially in the hilly areas of J&K.
Over the years, the farmers of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir have adopted new agricultural technologies but still J&K is having low productivity of almost all the crops. There is need to develop systematic approach and plan for the development in organic farming in Jammu and Kashmir as J&K has immense potential for organic farming. Demand for organic crops is also increasing. Several steps have been taken by the government in order to highlight the importance of organic agriculture in the growth of J&K economy. There is need to make strenous efforts to promote organic farming in J&K. Soil health is also deteriorating day- by- day in some regions of J&K due to indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers in the soil.
In order to sustain the health of soil organic farming is the best option. Because of Govt. efforts, organic farming is picking up pace in J&K. There is need of capacity building of farmers for promotion of organic farming in the region. J&K has huge potential for organic farming as a large area in J&K is already under semi-organic cultivation in hilly districts of J&K due to the lack of availability of chemical fertilizers in these areas and the farmers of these areas hardly apply the chemical fertilizers. Organic vegetables, ginger and turmeric of Reasi distt., Basmati rice of R. S. Pura, rajmah of Bhaderwah, potato of Gurez and Machil and red rice of Tangdar, Kupwara are major organic products in J&K and have the potential to fetch more returns in the market. There is need to explore markets in the country and abroad for saffron, basmati rice, vegetables, rajmash, spices and various other agricultural produce from J&K.
Jammu & Kashmir farmers can tap the opportunity of growing demand of organic products. Organic agriculture is generally environment friendly maintains soil health and enhance biodiversity. Already large numbers of farmers of J&K are organically growing vegetables, spices, basmati rice, walnuts, herbs etc. organically. There is need to introduce organic farming commercially, scientifically and in a systematized way in J&K so that the farmers can get rich dividends and farming can become sustainable source of income of farmers. Keeping the importance of organic products there is need to shift from chemical to organic farming so that more and more area can be covered under organic farming in the region. Organic farming system is not new in J&K and it is being followed from ancient times. It is a method of farming system which primarily aimed at cultivating the land in such a way so that the soil health can be maintained. There is tremendous scope for organic Basmati rice in J&K which is grown on more than 35,000 hectares of land in J&K and has a production of over 88,000 metric tonnes, besides rajmash, spices, saffron, pulses and potato. There is need to provide logistic support for organic farming to the farmers of J&K so that they can get maximum benefits from it.
Modern crop farming has increased the food grain production but it has caused many problems to the environment and human health. Besides, it has contributed to global warming causing different kinds of ailments to the human beings and animals. The indiscriminate use of agro-chemicals in soil and on plants is not only damaging the soil bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes etc. but has given rise to phenomenon like pest resistance and pest resurgence. Dependence on the external inputs like fertilizers, pesticides, machines etc. have increased rural indebtedness and created dependencies. Our farmers have indulged in indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and their numbering is increasing. In order to increase the agricultural production and control of insect-pests and diseases, our farmers are increasingly depending on agro-chemicals. Now the people are questioning the impact of modern agriculture on environment, economic and social aspects. Many farmers are seeking the alternative practices that would make agriculture more sustainable and productive. Organic farming is the only alternative taking care of all ecological aspects. A natural balance needs to be maintained for sustainability of crop production system. Therefore, recycling of resources through organic farming approach is of paramount importance. It can reduce the cost of cultivation and farmers can fetch more money.
Organic farming is a method which recognizes the ecological interconnections between different compartments of cropping. Organic farming is based on certain specified principles. The organic farmer regards the farm unit as an ecosystem and recognizes that a change in one part of the system can disturb many inter-relationships that exist within the unit. The diversity at farm level creates an ecosystem that has biological checks and balances that help to prevent any one species of insect, disease or weed from becoming a problem. Natural ecosystems are characterized by a continual growth; decay and recycling of nutrients. The farm residual are utilized in the soil to build biological fertility. It is difficult to cycle all the nutrients internally. It has been observed that about 60-90 per cent of the nutrients can be recycled under organic farming. In advanced natural ecosystem producer and consumers stay together and nutrients loss is completely eliminated. This principle helps to diminish the acute dependence on outside support of nutrients, integration both animal feed production and local settlement. Organic farming is a market demand driven agriculture which aims to fetch more money. Postharvest crop residues can be utilized to the fullest extent. Organic farming has experienced a dramatic expansion in all the crops due to increase in the awareness in the food security and environment safety.
The emerging challenge for food security and environment sustainability amid COVID-19 can be mitigated by the organic farming. Good market demand for organic products will have a positive impact on the socio-economic status of the farmers. Organic farming can lead prosperity among the farmers of J&K.A proper strategy is needed to promote organic farming in J&K. An integrated approach from government and non-government organizations is needed to encourage the organic farming in J&K to mitigate the problem of climate change, health and sustainability.