Thanks to the increasing media attention on growing health issues, many people all over the world have switched to organic products. The biggest difference between organic and non-organic products is that organic products are grown without the use of any artificial or synthetic chemicals. There are a number of other conditions that need to be fulfilled for a produce to be certified as organic food. However, organic farming is not as straightforward as it seems. Here are some interesting organic farming facts for you:
One of the biggest advantages of organic farming for farmers is that the organic food is normally priced higher than the conventional food. The price is up to 30% higher in some cases and in other cases, the premium can be twice the price of conventional food. Such high premium on organic food is extremely important for small farmers for them to continue organic farming sustainably.
One of the other main advantages of organic farming is that the capital investment required is not as high as that required in growing conventional food. When farmers grow conventional food, they need to constantly supply fertilizers as well as pesticides, weed killers and a whole lot of other chemicals to make sure that their crops survive.
On the other hand, all the required fertilizers and pesticides are produced locally in case of organic farming. The organic fertilizer usually consists of compost, animal waste and other such organic things.
Many small farmers who opt for organic farming are usually dependent on various external factors such as rain, climate, pest attack and diseases among other things for the survival of their crops. Therefore, when a natural calamity strikes such as irregular rainfall or pest attack leading to crop failure, these farmers suffer much less due to low investments in farming.
However, it is also important to mention here that the cost of transitioning to organic farming from traditional farming is extremely high and cannot be borne by many small farmers. In many cases, the fields need to be left without any crop for three years to be certified as organic. Many small farmers are unable to live without doing any farming for three years and therefore, they find it difficult to switch to organic farming.
Many farmers who do manage to switch to organic farming often find that they are less dependent on moneylenders for their financial needs. It has been observed all over the world that many small farmers suffer from intense economic issues due to increasing debt which is often the result of crop failure due to various issues.
Most of their debt usually comes from the inputs required for traditional farming such as chemicals that tend to be very costly. On the other hand, organic farming does not require such costly inputs and therefore, crop failure usually does not lead to enormous debt for the farmer.
While there are a number of advantages of organic farming, it also has certain limitations.
One of the major limitations of organic farming in is that it is highly labor intensive. Since no artificial chemical are allowed to be used in organic farming, the farmer needs to do a lot of work to keep the field clear of pests and weeds and other such things that may destroy the crop. It may be difficult for a farmer to switch to organic farming without sufficient labor.
In many cases, organic farming turns out to be extremely expensive in a given situation as the soil structure needs to be modified to get certification for organic food.
Another issue with organic farming is that the practice is still not as widespread as conventional farming which means that there is lack of common knowledge when it comes to good farming practices for growing organic produce.
One of the most important aspects of organic farming is getting certification. It has been observed that the education necessary for getting required certifications and the guidelines one has to follow for getting those certifications is not easily available. Also, the cost of getting certification is too high for many small farmers. Usually, organic farming certification is taken by a big group of farmers when the government funds the certification process.
Organic produce is traditionally not traded on the open market which means that farmers are hugely dependent on only a handful of buyers for their produce. Another problem for organic farmers is that the fields need organic fertilizers on a regular basis and if the fertilizers are not available at home, it may be costly for a small farmer to purchase organic fertilizers from elsewhere.
Organic food prices fluctuate from time to time which makes it difficult for farmers. Low price for a particular commodity may drastically affect small farmers.
Overall, organic farming has proven to be beneficial for a number of farmers but there are still certain limitations that need to be overcome to make it more popular.