It has been 70 years of independence for India, and the nation is changing like never before. If we look ahead to solve the problems of 2017 and beyond- whether natural resource constraints, farmer livelihood, and population health- we need an approach which suits the technology and progress of our time. We have to look to solutions with the wisdom from traditions and innovation of the future, so they are approached holistically and for the benefit of all creatures- big and small.
When it comes to agriculture, a still strong and fundamental base of our country, we need to change the way we have addressed it from the past. As many of you already know, the result of past policies and decisions has resulted in farmers’ health being continuously compromised from exposure to chemicals in pesticides, loss of localized seeds and food, a significant break from farm self sustainability, long term productivity loss of Green Revolution seeds and harmful effects on our soil, waterways and biodiversity. Organic farming has the capability of alleviating many pressures that weigh down on current farmers and farming practices. Yet to solve 21st-century problems, we need advanced R&D, organic practices adapted for the future of farming and knowledge sharing in this area. As we enter into a new year for India, let’s look at the modern solutions available- not to return to the past, but to have a brighter future.
Funding Research and Development
Increased R&D is going to be instrumental for the predicted resource crunch in the future. Currently, much of the chemicalized fertilizers used in India are derived from fossil fuels. With limited supply and intense ongoing demand, it will be that much more difficult for farmers to keep up with these prices. Since organic farming is not dependent on chemicalized inputs, it relieves the large burden of increasing costs to farmers and is a logical, sustainable and viable solution for years to come. If we can invest as much research and development into organics now, we will be prepared for the smooth transition for farmers that will be required when chemical fertilizer prices increase. Part of this R&D will have to be in harnessing traditional knowledge. Traditional Indian farming practices were actually quite evolved and advanced, and very localized, but rarely documented. All traditional farming methods were adapted for their particular regions and climates, which allowed for sturdier plants and produce. If we can tap into that wisdom and have it easily accessible, farmers can learn from each other on how to control pests, diseases and which seeds will grow well in their particular area. Documenting the traditional knowledge and then disseminating the intelligence on the ground through in person or tech tools to smallholder farmers will have a profound effect on the spreading of best practices. This research can also be spread to small holder farmers around the world and help them make better decisions for growing food.
Using Advanced Farming Organically
In the not so distant future, farming has the opportunity to look and feel completely different. Hydroponics, robotic farming, rooftop farming and more are being developed as a way to deal with the demand for more food with limited resources. Hydroponics is a method of growing crops without the use of soil, while robotic farming uses robots to supplement cultivating practices, and rooftop farming allows for plants to produce in our major urban cities. In all the cases, organic farming has a rightful place as a practical method to address even these alternative types of farming going forward. As they become more mainstream and the resource crunch expands, with pricing pressure on chemicalized growing practices, organic inputs will be increasingly desired and can work in tandem. Organic inputs to create self-sustaining systems are already being used in hydroponic and rooftop farming and has the potential to expand across newly devised methods of farming. In this way, organic farming takes a leap forward in adapting to our new world.
Decentralizing and Localizing Organic Farming Inputs
An oft-wrought criticism by environmentalists is that if we start producing inputs for organic farming on a large scale, then it can have ill environmental effects as well (i.e. additional methane in the air). However, how we envision sustainable ways to grow is by making the input production decentralized. Farmers should look to make their farming inputs from the farm itself, which will not only full detach the farmers from purchasing from the market but also have strongly adapted inputs for their particular growing area. What is imperative to make this happen is farmer education on ways to make their farms self-sustainable and adapted to their needs. All the farmers I Say Organic works with are well trained to make their own inputs and are supported by our sourcing teams on best practices to grow organically. We will soon be having videos from our farmers where they will be talking about their individual ways of farming and how they operate on their farms. In addition, they speak about how organic farming actually nourishes the farms with the ability to grow multiple different mutually sustaining crops which allow them to expand their harvests.
The combination of more research and development, advanced farming methods, and decentralized production will create a large difference in food availability, overall farmer and farm health across the country and improve the prospects for farmers and their families. Another important change will be in the health and wellness of all of us, as our organic food will lead to more nutritional benefits and taste for dinner plates across India. Simultaneously, as organic farming develops and the positive impact become more well known, we hope that the government will also take a larger role in providing the services and support to promote organic in India.
To learn more about organic farming, continue to read our blog for updates and ideas!
I Say Organic aims to continue being credible, offering great prices, service, and authenticity. We’d like to ensure that both consumers and farmers are much better off with our products, by the simple method of going back to the future.