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Factors worth considering while establishing Organic Farm

Organic Farming in India is getting popularity every year and farmers/individuals/retired persons from different states are successfully adopting organic farming techniques in and earning decent revenues, at the same time adding value in maintaining a healthy ecosystem on the whole. First of all let us understand what is Organic farming and its advantages.

Abhijeet Banerjee
Small plants
Small plants

Organic Farming in India is getting popular every year and farmers/individuals/retired persons from different states are successfully adopting organic farming techniques and earning decent revenues, at the same time adding value in maintaining a healthy ecosystem on the whole. First of all, let us understand what is Organic farming and its advantages.

Organic Farming is a farming method that aims at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way that the soil is kept alive and in good health by the use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials. Principal methods of organic farming include crop rotation, green manures and compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation.

Organic farming yields such vital benefits as preservation of soil's organic composition. Being high on nutritional levels, organic food is healthier and fresher to consume as compared to conventional food. All in all the Four Organic Principles identified are Health, Ecology, Fairness, and Care. According to the World of Organic Agriculture 2018 report, approximately 30 percent of total organic producers in the world are engaged in organic farming in India but account for merely 2.6 percent or 1.5 million hectares of the total organic cultivation area of 57.8 million hectares.

In January 2016, Sikkim became India's first “100 percent organic” state. Today, all farming in Sikkim is carried out without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, providing access to safer food choices, thus making agriculture a more environment-friendly activity. Among all the states, Madhya Pradesh has the largest area under organic certification followed by Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh.

Organic farmers utilize practices that: Maintain and improve fertility, soil structure, and biodiversity, and reduce erosion. Reduce the risks of human, animal, and environmental exposure to toxic materials. Being an organic farmer is hard work, and most of the work is done outdoors. Organic farmers care for their animals by giving them food and water, they plant and harvest crops, and they make sure their plants and animals stay healthy. They also take care of the machines that help them farm, like tractors and ploughs.

Organic farming practices reduce pollution in the air, water, and soil. It also helps conserve water, reduce soil erosion, and use less energy. To be organic, crops must be grown in safe soil that is free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

A farmer taking out potatoes from the soil
A farmer taking out potatoes from the soil

Opinions regarding different factors to consider while planning to set up and maintain organic farming do vary from person to person. Given below are the important factors, what according to most experts, to be kept in mind for establishing an organic farm

1. Thorough learning about the Organic Farming basics 

The first and foremost step is to learn the basics of natural and organic farming thoroughly.  This will help in proving an insight about the initial concepts and also what to expect from an organic farm. Learning can also be done through participating in organic farm training programs and farmer-meet-up symposiums. Meetings with farmers provide first-hand experience of managing organic farms. The use of the internet is another good option to get information about the basics and management techniques. Books on organic farming can be another source of relevant information.

 2. Choice of Location 

Location advantage gives better economies of scale for an organic farmer hence the choice of location of the farm is quite important. An organic farm’s location usually determines how successful the venture or project will be in the longer run.

The organic farm site should be near a clean water source since water is a non-negotiable resource for crop growth and health. If the farm is too far from the water source is far, the irrigation process will be difficult there.  The proximity of the farm to the marketplace also plays a big role in the sustainability of the farm. This is because the closer is the farm with a marketplace, the easier will be transportation and selling of the product for the farmer/individual or groups. This not only saves the cost but also reduces the time and energy of the person involved in farming. 

3. Proper utilization of the land

What you plan to grow – the land should be ready to support the plant growth. Therefore land’s soil structure and moisture availability should be suitable for plants selected for sowing. Growing a plant in a resource deficit or unwanted resource area will be difficult rather than growing a plant that adapts properly to the landscape, temperature, elevation, and available resources.

A grower has to think of alternative methods in an unfavorable area, such as vertical gardening, container farming, intercropping, etc, that may not be as comfortable then selecting the plants suitable for the land.

4. Knowledge of the market 

One should have good knowledge and information about the type of market he or she will be serving. Some agricultural products may not be feasible to sell in a certain type of market. So to make a venture sustainable, the product needs to be supplied to a relevant market. One should therefore find out what sort of agricultural products is required by consumers of the selected region how much daily/monthly demand exists and how often does he have to supply his produce to the consumers. It is also important to assess how the farmer will sell products to the market. Therefore, keeping a backup marketing plan becomes crucial.

5. Soil preparation and good compost making 

Having good quality soil is always important for an organic farm manager. Inorganic soil treatments potentially harm the environment, also affecting the plant negatively. Ultimately end-users consuming the food also get adversely impacted. Good soil means soil possessing the right nutrients to balance the growth of plants, and this should be always be kept in mind by growers while making compost.

Good soil is a mixture of compost, leaf and grass clippings, and manure, among other vital compositions. Farmers generally benefit when they make their own compost onsite because it is easy to make and results in lots of savings. Compost helps conserve water, control weeds growth as well – all these steps are important for successful farming.  

6. Taking care of the plant  

Plants cultivated in organic environments need a lot of care and this process is quite lengthy for the grower. Organic farming requires more attention compared to conventional farming therefore taking care is a lengthier process. Depending on the plant and farm conditions, certain techniques are required to be focused upon.

It is quite likely that one organic farming technique may not necessarily work for all plants in a single farm. Regular watering becomes crucial to maintaining adequate plant growth. On average, it is necessary to water the plants at least 2-3 times a day depending on their type as well as the location where they are being grown. Another key task for caring is the weeding operation. Weeds grow in good soil and compete with the plants cultivated in the same field for the essential nutrients.  

7. Monitoring / Networking and Patience

Lastly, it is important for those who want to build their career in organic farming should be ready to increase networking with experienced farmers/academicians, etc, for getting proper advice and mentoring because at times results from an organic farming activity might not be as expected or get delayed to great extent. 

Growing organic crops is a slow and tedious process. A lot of times, organic farming does not go as planned. An organic farmer must be physically and mentally ready for unexpected scenarios that will arise. A lot of monitoring of the activities is required and any failure step should be evaluated immediately for rectification. Also, working on the farm is an everyday affair and organic farming slow step-by-step process.  

Therefore a grower or a farmer should develop his patience skills. The results of an organic farm might seem attractive, yet the process of setting up and maintaining the farm is a tough one. Therefore it often involves a lot of hard work, patience, persistence, and optimistic thoughts.

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