- Scientists say productivity in organic farming comparable with conventional agriculture
- Study shows chemical-based farming causes loss of yeild in the long run
NewZNew (Chandigarh) : Scientists assembled at the National Organic Farming Convention were unanimous in their view that organic farming is at the frontier of best farming practices globally, and has the potential to not only mitigate the deletoerious effects of chemical-based farming on human health and the environment, but also feed the country’s growing population.
Governor of Punjab and Haryana Kaptan Singh Solanki, who delivered the inaugural address at the scientific conference that got underway today, expressed his deep anguish at the state of affairs of agriculture in the country, and suggested that if agricultural universities were failing to find solutions major problems of the day, including farmer suicides, degradation of soil, depletion and pollution of water resources and destruction of biodiversity, they should be closed down within two years’ time.
Solanki made these comments in the presence of the Vice Chancellor of Punjab Agriculture University, Dr B S Dhillon. In response to his Chancellor’s comments, Dhillon acknowledged the serious implications of conventional agriculture and stated that PAU is open to working with those practising organic farming.
Other speakers at the scientific conference, being organised jointly by the Centre for Sustaianble Agriculture (CSA) and the Indian Society of Agroecology (ISAE), emphasised how organic farming could, in fact, feed the country’s growing population.
Yet others spoke of how conventional agriculture was undercutting its own success claims on yeild, but hardly anyone was aware about it. Dr Parthiba Basu from the Centre for Pollination Studies at the University of Calcutta was among them. Speaking at the conference, he said, “Yeilds of many vegeatbles have gone down significantly in the last few years and farmers attribute this to pest attacks and decreasing soil fertility. But no one mentions the disastrous effect that synthetic pesticides have on pollinators,” said Basu’s colleague at the university Dr Barbara Smith.
Smith referred to a Centre for Pollination Studies research which shows that pollinators like blue-banded bees and carpenter bees have reduced by 90 percet and 75 percent respectively in the last 20-25 years in areas where chemical-based agriculture is practised.
“The decrease in pollinatiors is extremely troublesome, as pollination affects the productivity of 70 percent of tropical crops,” said Dr Basu. The study shows how conevntional methods of farming may in fact be creating another impending crisis in yeilds, the main selling point for seed and agri-chemical corporations.
Dr G V Ramanjaneyalu from the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), on the other hand, mentioned how yeilds comparable to chemical-based farming had been achieved in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh as part of the Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA) programme. “Farmers in Andhra Pradesh had adopted non pesticide management (NPM) in around 40 lakh acres in the state and the results are there for all to see,” he said, adding that successful models of ecological farming involve traditional knowledge as well as innovations that have come out of laboratories.
Dr Dinesh Abrol from the Indian Society of Agroecology spoke along similar lines as regards productivity. He also emphaised on the need to change the paradigm of agricultural research in the country so as to make it sensitive to natural resources, considered the main capital in agriculture. “Farming has to ecologically sustainable, economically viable, and socially just, and the agroecological approach takes into account all these factors,” he said.
A book titled ‘Ecological Agriculture in India: Scientific Evidence on Positive Impacts and Successes’ was also released during the conference. The book ius a compilation of abstracts of peer-reviewd studies on various aspects of organic farming.
The scientific coneference also had sessions on ecological pest and disease management; community managed seed systems; agroecology in the context of climate change; rebuilding India’s soils and a special session on emerging issues in Punjab and Haryana.