Mitticool – Inspiring story of craftsman who built Refrigerator without electricity

Born in the Prajapati family, originally belonging to the village Nichimandal of Morbi, Rajkot, Mansukhbhai had exposure to the clay tradition since childhood, as this was his family’s traditional profession. He used to load clay from the ponds and fields on the donkey and ferry it to his place. Other than this, his contribution was limited as he was not much interested in the pottery work.

Having gained a sound knowledge while working in the pottery unit, the desire to start an enterprise of his own started to grow in Mansukhbhais mind. During his childhood, he saw earthen pans/hot plates (locally termed as Kaladi/Tavdi) being manufactured manually on the potters wheel (locally termed as Chhakdo). Using this, one person can only make about 100 units per day. He had seen roof tiles being manufactured in large quantity on hand press, which made him think why cannot earthen pans be made the same way?

In 1988, he left his job and took a loan of Rs 30,000 from a money lender to start his own earthen plate manufacturing factory. He purchased a small piece of land for the factory, dyes and presses, soil mixing machine, electric potters wheel and other scrap objects. Then he modified the roof tile making hand press and developed a hand press machine having capacity to produce 700 earthen pans per day.

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In the fateful earthquake of January 2001, Mansukhbhai suffered huge loss, as most of his stock got broken. He distributed the stock that escaped the quake to the quake affected people of Kutch. In February 2001, Sandesh Gujarati Daily had a photo feature on the earthquake where at one place it showed a broken water filter of Mansukhbhai with the caption the broken fridge of poor.

This caption ignited a thought in him to work on a rural fridge that did not need electricity and could be used by masses. Though he started thinking about it after the Gujarat earthquake of 2001, it was 2002 when he actually started his work. Almost the same time, Mansukhbhai came into the contact of Gujarat Grass-roots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN), Ahmedabad. After a painstaking journey of three years during which he tested all sorts of soils and fridge designs, he finally came out with Mitticool fridge in 2005. A civil engineer saw the fridge and looking at its applications gave him the order of 100 pieces and an advance of Rs. 2 lakh.

Check Address and Contact Number of Mitticool at http://con.greenecosystem.in/clay-products/mitti-cool-clay-refrigerator-cooker.html

Watch Story of Mansukhabhai Prajapati, covered in leading national news channel, NDTV.

We are what we eat and plants give us what we feed – TEDx talk by Ramanjaneyulu GV

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Is our food safe? A red alert question that Ramanjaneyulu, puts out to all of us. Hear him talk about the quality of food we are eating. Listen to the reasons we need to adapt to organic farming as a results of excessive use of chemical pesticides and horrifying facts and statistics, surrounding them. He alerts us to the damage we are doing to our ecological footprints. In his heart wrenching talk, Ramanjaneyulu, highlights the plight of farmers and the reasons they commit suicide and the many reasons that farmers and farming should not die.

“We are what we eat and plants give us what we feed.” He is waging a war against the use of pesticides in agricultural activities and has challenged the traditional methods of farming. Apart from running the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture as the Executive Director, he also runs a small outlet, Sahaja Ahaaram, which stocks pest-free products from farmers. After leaving his full-time government job, Ramanjaneyulu dedicated himself to the benefit of farmers and his campaign, ‘India for Safe Food’.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

Credit : http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Poison-on-our-Plate-Ramanjaneyu

Organic Farming, Sustainable Agriculture and Green Marketing – Dr. A. N. Sarkar

Organic Farming

Abstract

Organic farming is universally known to be a specialized form of farming practices, involving selected application of organic  substrates such as manures, crop residues, green manuring crops, earthworm casts (vermiculture) etc. to enrich soil with adequate plant nutrients, and provide good soil structure and soil health with the aim of creating a sustainable form of farming system. Broadly, the aim of organic farming is: to create integrated, humane, environmentally and economically sustainable production systems, which maximize reliance on farm-derived renewable and natural resources to lend support to the management of ecological and biological processes and interactions, so as to provide acceptable levels of crop, livestock and human nutrition, protection from pests and diseases, and an appropriate return from the deployment of the human and other resources. There are several benefits of organic farming vis-à-vis conventional farming systems. Organic farming, among other things, promotes recycling of organic wastes, use of renewable energy and application of system-worthy low-cost and appropriate technologies using mostly the local farm-based resources. Organic farming has of late emerged as a potential alternative for meeting food security, maintaining soil fertility and increasing soil carbon pool.

Organic agriculture has come a long way from a tiny, disorganized, idealistic fringe movement.  Twenty-five years ago some may have thought it was a relic of the 1960s that was headed for the compost pile.  Now most food stores carry some organic products, it is the fastest growing sector in the grocery business and the giants in the food processing and retail business, from General Mills to Wal-Mart, wants to cash in on the organic market (http://www.cias.wisc.edu/curriculum/modV/sece/sec_E_modV.htm).

In this paper, an attempt has been made to cover the various emerging areas of organic farming and sustainable agriculture, including the evolution and benefits of organic farming vis-à-vis conventional agriculture, long-term sustainability and environmental quality, Linkage of Organic Farming with Green Supply-Chain and Food Value-Chain, eco-labelling and green marketing of organic farm produce, the future perspectives etc. The desirability of good governance and compliance of quality standards and promotion of organic foods by providing various incentives are highlighted in conclusion of the paper as viable policy measures by the producers as well as the government as well as certifying agencies at large.

Key words: Organic farming, sustainable agriculture and green Marketing

Introduction

Organic farming is basically a specialized form of farming involving selected application of organic fertilizers, manures, crop residues, green manuring crops, earthworm casts (vermiculture) etc to enrich soil with adequate nutrients, and provide good soil structure and soil health with the aim of creating a sustainable form of farming system. Broadly, the aim of organic farming is: ―to create integrated, humane, environmentally and economically sustainable production systems, which maximize reliance on farm-derived renewable resources and the management of ecological and biological processes and interactions, so as to provide acceptable levels of crop, livestock and human nutrition, protection from pests and disease, and an appropriate return to the human and other resources. There are several benefits of organic farming vis-à-vis conventional farming systems. Organic farming, among other things promotes recycling of organic wastes, use of renewable energy and application of system-worthy low-cost and appropriate technologies using local resources. Organic farming has emerged as a potential alternative for meeting food demand, maintaining soil fertility and increasing soil carbon pool. Organic farming is not only about managing the soil – plant – environmental interaction in a holistic manner – it also has food quality, human health, animal welfare and socio –economic aims. As a result of these principles and philosophies, organic food has a strong brand image in the eyes of the health-, environment- and socially-conscious consumer.

Organic Agriculture

– a predominant component of organic farming is a specific type of low external input agriculture that adheres to certain principles in the production and transformation of agricultural commodities. Organic agriculture may be either certified or non-certified. Certified organic agriculture must meet certain standards in the production, processing and handling of organic products. These standards are developed in accordance with basic standards established by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (Kilcher et al., 2004). The basic standards provide a framework within which certification bodies worldwide develop their own certification standards, which may vary across countries depending upon specific local conditions. Organic standards have been established by most industrialized nations, and organic standards are specified in guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Organic agriculture is based on minimizing the use of external inputs and avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides (FAO, 1999, 2000, 2002).
Organic agriculture has come a long way from a tiny, disorganized, idealistic fringe movement.  Twenty-five years ago some may have thought it was a relic of the 1960s that was headed for the compost pile.  Now most food stores carry some organic products, it is the fastest growing sector in the grocery business and the giants in the food processing and retail business, from General Mills to Wal-Mart, want to cash in on the organic market.  But rather than rejoicing at the success of the organic paradigm, some former organic supporters are asking “Can organic agriculture remain sustainable with these changes in the market?”

Evolution of Organic Farming

Over the past couple of centuries the principles and practices of organic farming has undergone evolutionary changes; and in the process of such transitions from the conventional farming systems met with severable challenges. The various aspects of organic farming are presently engaging attention to the practitioners of organic farmers; and these include: clarity on the basic concepts and historic evolution of organic farming; aims of organic production and processing, principles of organic farming, major components and technology of organic farming. The  emerging areas of organic farming are those of assessing and exploring organic products’ new market potential and growth perspectives;  environmental, ecological and economic dimensions of organic farming, preservation of biodiversity, soil  microbial growth to leverage positive ‘Rhizosphere effect’,  mode of improvement of soil health and soil fertility regime, increased usage of microbial bio-fertilisers in organic farming.

For many years the organic movement was dominated by small farms and businesses, and in most cases farmers received significant premiums for organic products. So in practice, organic agriculture contributed to the economic sustainability of farms and food businesses. Because these economic gains allowed small and medium-sized farms to thrive where similar businesses in conventional agriculture were struggling economically, organic agriculture also had social benefits for rural communities. Many organic supporters saw these benefits as equal in importance to the ecological benefits and central to the overall sustainability of organic agriculture. In recent years, however, large traditional food processors and retailers have bought out most small independent organic processing, distribution, and retail businesses. Most large processing companies and retailers are committed to minimizing the price they pay for organic products and often prefer the ease of dealing with a few large suppliers rather than many small farms.

Benefits of Organic Farming and Green Marketing

Organic agriculture can contribute to meaningful socio-economic and ecologically sustainable development, especially in poorer countries. This is due on the one hand to the application of organic principles, which means efficient management of local resources (e.g. local seed varieties, manure, etc.) and therefore cost-effectiveness. Various organic farming technologies have been utilized for several years world over to allow agriculture and allied farming activities to extract and judiciously utilize natural resources, while conserving soil, water, energy, and biological resources; sans, of course, the detriment to ecology and environment. Broadly, the potential benefits of organic farming technologies are higher soil organic matter, organic carbon and nitrogen, lower fossil-fuel based energy inputs, comparable yield performance as are quite similar to those of conventional systems. The other incidental benefits are conservation of soil moisture and water resources (especially advantageous under drought conditions). Experiences of traditional farmers have shown that even the conventional agriculture can be made more sustainable and ecologically sound by adopting some traditional organic farming technologies. Organic agriculture (OA) and conventional agriculture (CA) represent two polar approaches to farming, both of which employ their own methods and farming practices. OA and CA can both hold their own challenges and implications within the global food-chain, particularly with respect to the impending global food crisis, coupled with climate change consequential to global warming. These issues present pressing agricultural questions leading us to ask how our farming methods will adapt to feed the world’s mammoth population while maintaining the viability and health of the world’s ecosystems.

Organic agriculture shows several benefits, as it reduces many of the environmental impacts of conventional agriculture, it can increase productivity in small farmers’ fields, and it reduces reliance on costly external inputs, and guarantees price premiums for organic products. Organic farmers also benefit from organizing in farmer cooperatives and the building of social networks, which provide them with better access to training, credit and health services. Organic agriculture generally reduces the vulnerability of farmers as the higher organic prices act as buffer against the low prices and price volatility of conventional markets, as organic systems are often more resilient against extreme weather events, and as the often diverse organic crop-livestock systems provide a diverse set of outputs (https://www.mcgill.ca/isid/files/isid/seufert.pb13.pdf).

Systematic research studies are now being conducted to evaluate relative environmental vis-à-vis economic benefits of organic farming as opposed to conventional farming approach. Some of the current endeavours put up by the lead research establishments in this direction encompass review of experiences of different agrochemical industries in organic and conventional farming systems, measurements of profitability of organics-based alternate farming systems, analysis of socio-economic approach of sustainable farming systems vs. conventional agriculture, organic farming for food production stability, climate mitigation and adaptation actions, organic-based integrated farming systems to help build synergy between conventional and organic farming.

The green marketing is often considered a solution to the many issues of the degradation of the environment and the consumers’ health. The ecological, green or environmental marketing attempts to connect the classical components of the marketing and management to the ecological issues. The key-concept attempting to define the green marketing is how the responsibility and environmental issues are integrated into the concept of (the) marketing management. In this respect, the green marketing might be defines as the holistic management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying the requirements of the customers and society, in a profitable and sustainable way (Kärnä, 2003). Green marketing incorporates a board range of activities about ecological products, including organic products as an important part, about changes in the production process, in the packaging as well as modifying promotion and distribution (Pollan, 2006).

Focus on Preserving Long-Term Sustainability and Environmental Quality

In recent years, many studies have shown that integrated farming system, combining organic and conventional farming system could be a better option to ensure long-term sustainability without sacrificing profitability but some sacrifice to the environmental quality. Hence, organic agriculture – the predominant component of organic farming, is increasingly being seen to be a sustainable way of farming without chemical inputs during cultivation, whereas integrated farming system is a sustainable way of farming which falls somewhere in between the conventional and the organic farming system. Organic and integrated agriculture are the sustainable farming systems that have been developing noticeably during the last decade. Organic Farming (OF) is one of the agro-ecological approaches needed to grow enough food for the increasing population. This approach minimizes external inputs such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides to produce non-toxic crops. Thus, it is less environmentally damaging and has much potential to produce more food in a sustainable manner.

While conventional farming systems face serious problems of sustainability, organic agriculture is seen as a more environmentally-friendly system since it favours renewable resources, recycles nutrients, uses the environment’s own systems for controlling pests and diseases, sustains ecosystems, protects soils, and reduces pollution. At the same time, organic farming promotes animal welfare, the use of natural foodstuffs, product diversity and the avoidance of waste, among other practices. However, the future of organic agriculture will depend on its economic viability and on the determination shown by governments to protect these practices.

Agricultural researchers widely recognise the importance of sustainable agricultural production systems and the implicit need to develop appropriate methods to measure sustainability. An integrated farming system consists of a range of resource-saving practices that aim to achieve acceptable profits and high and sustained production levels, while minimizing the negative effects of intensive farming and preserving the environment. Based on the principle of enhancing natural biological processes above and below the ground, the integrated system represents a winning combination that (a) reduces erosion; (b) increases crop yields, soil biological activity and nutrient recycling; (c) intensifies land use, improving profits; and (d) can therefore help reduce poverty and malnutrition and strengthen environmental sustainability. An integrated farming system involving such components as crops, forestry, livestock, fishery, piggery, poultry, apiculture, pisciculture/aquaculture, vermiculture, organic waste recycling, renewable energy deployment to farming system etc. can make a significant synergistic contribution to sustainable development of farming system on a long-term basis.

Organic agriculture can contribute to meaningful socio-economic and ecologically sustainable development, especially in poorer countries. This is due on the one hand to the application of organic principles, which means efficient management of local resources (e.g. local seed varieties, manure, etc.) and therefore cost effectiveness. On the other hand, the market for organic products – at local and international level – has tremendous growth prospects and offers creative producers and exporters’ excellent opportunities to improve their income and living conditions. Organic agriculture reduces the risk of yield failure, stabilizes returns and improves the quality of life of small farmers’ families.

Linkage of Organic Farming with Green Supply-Chain and Food Value-Chain

Organic farming is now being linked to the green supply-chain in one hand; the food value-chain on the other. Food value-chains represent a business model in which producers and buyers of agricultural products form strategic alliances with other supply chain actors, such as aggregators, processors, distributors, retailers, and consumers, to enhance financial returns through product differentiation that advances social or environmental values. Partners in these business alliances recognize that creating maximum value for their products depends on interdependence, collaboration, and mutual support. The food value-chain model is gaining traction because it responds to agricultural and food industry consolidation that has placed intense market pressure on small, marginal and mid-sized farmers.

Central to the notion of food value-chains is the idea that transparent and trusting relationships between supply-chain partners can produce positive, ‘win-win’ outcomes for all parties. In this model, consumers, farmers, distributors, and others in the chain of food business activity, from planning and planting to processing and selling, see results and reap rewards. The gains of producers are not achieved at the expense of distributors or retailers, or vice versa, because the structure of food value chain transactions facilitates the sale of a broader range of well-differentiated food products, priced to reflect the incorporation of both social and private benefits, which are more closely tailored to the preferences of specific consumer segments. The organic principles of farming based of integration of health, ecology, stakeholders partnership, fairness and care (i.e. value-chain), should, ideally, include these multiple functions.

Agri-food systems are undergoing rapid transformations and the emergence of integrated food supply chains is one of the most visible market phenomena in India. Increasing concentration on processing, trading, marketing and retailing is being observed in all the segments of supply chains. Organization of agriculture, along the value-chain framework has been conceived as one of the strategies to bring more efficiency in the agricultural sector. The value-chain network may now be defined as a range of activities that are required to bring a product from its conception, through its designing, sourcing of raw materials and intermediate inputs, marketing and distribution, to the final consumer. There has been an increasing emphasis on the development of efficient organic value-chains in India and several innovative and successful value-chains have emerged to popularize organic farming among the farming communities in order to exploit the full market potential of organic produce in future.

An ideal value chain should bring all the stakeholders engaged in the production system on a common platform to contribute their best, while ensuring fair deal and transparency.  The value chain will include all the input suppliers, technology delivering agencies, scientists indirectly engaged in developing appropriate technologies and extension officers who are involved in capacity building and providing various services to farmers.  The stakeholders involved in post-production activities are the agencies organising collection, grading, storage, transportation, processing and marketing of the produce.  Agencies like financial institutions and market information centres are also part of the value chain.  Efficient linkage of various stakeholders improves production, price realisation and profitability. Research, training, capacity building and continuous innovation in developing organic farming models and testing their economic viability and adaptability will add to the organic value-chain in a sustainable manner.

The increasing pace of globalization and industrialization has revolutionarised the way the corporate world is responding the changed life-style with time. Some of the major casualties of the energy-intensive mode of industrialization are enhanced rate of greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and ecological degradation. As the public becomes more aware of environmental issues and global warming, consumers are asking more questions about the eco-friendliness of products they are purchasing. Companies are confronted with embarrassing questions like how green their manufacturing processes and supply chain are, the state of their carbon footprints and how they recycle and dispose wastes etc. Consumers increasingly prefer to purchase products that are free of toxins, produced with minimum level of pollution-linked contaminants and with minimal environmental impact. Increasing evidences are accumulating that a gulf of difference exists between consumers‘green claims and the certified quality of ‘green’ products. Companies that successfully adopt a ‘green‘ policy can generate profits, provide positive social impact, and reduce environmental impact as there is an apparent link between improved environmental performance and financial gains.

Realising this perspective, companies have looked to their supply chain and explored areas where can expect more profits (Martin Murray-Introduction to the Green Supply Chain: http://logistics.about.com/od/greensupplychain/a/green_in tro.htm). Prominent features of leading green supply chains include an emphasis on life-cycle costing, asset efficiency, and waste reduction and service innovation and recycling. Executed effectively, Green Supply Chain Management (GSCM) stimulates product and service innovation, improves asset utilization, and deepens customer relationships and service levels through a shared focus on reducing waste and cost (Françoise van den Broek, 2010). Several companies have gone one step further by e green supply chain management (GSCM) as a competitive advantage (Murphy et al., 1995; Sarkis, 1998, 2003, 2007; Wu and Dunn, 1995; Yang and Sheu, 2007; Vachon and Klassen, 2008). The premise of GSCM is that sharing and integrating environmental ideas and concerns across organizational boundaries will greatly enhance green manufacturing. More manufacturing firms have recognized the importance of GSCM practices and have begun to foster long-term partnerships with their suppliers to increase environmental performance (Hanfield and Bechtel, 2002, Hanfield et al, 2002; Johnson and Sohi, 2003; Rao, 2002). Green Supply Chain Management (GSCM) improves Green marketing operations by employing an environmental solution in the following ways:
 Improves agility – GSCM helps to mitigate risk and speeds up innovations;
 Increases adaptability – green supply chain analysis often leads to innovative processes and continuous improvements;
 Promotes alignment – GSCM involves negotiating policies with suppliers and customers, which results in better alignment of business processes and principles.
 Core focus of the lectureship will be on the necessity of ‘green‘ and on green operations (network design and reverse logistics, transportation, green manufacturing and re-manufacturing and waste management).

Organic Certification, Carbon Foot-Printing, Eco-labelling and Green Marketing

The term ‘carbon footprint’ is commonly used to describe the total amount of Carbon-di-Oxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for which an individual or organization is responsible. Footprints can also be calculated for events or products. Certification marks, labels and logos are increasingly being used by brand owners to signal their green credentials and so boost their market share. A properly controlled eco-label offers consumers a guarantee that a product or service has been independently verified to meet given environmental standards. In Australia, for example, the Greenhouse Friendly™ label is a registered certification mark, administered by the Government Department of Climate Change. Some companies are developing their own eco-standards and product labelling. MNCs like BASF and Philips have launching their Green Logo and tick symbol last year to identify products with ―significantly better energy efficiency than the nearest competitor products. Eco-labelling could be of two kinds: Performance based and Process-based. An eco-labelling scheme based on product performance, such as labels claiming biodegradability of packaging, sustainability in production processes or non-pollutant aspects of product usage will require certain trust on the part of the consumer. A systems approach to the eco-labelling of food and other products requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders as one party‘s actions affect others‘ environmental performance.

Organic certification is a certification process for producers and marketers of organic food and other organic agricultural/ non-agricultural organic products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, exporters, retailers and hotels and restaurants. Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping etc. In some countries, certification is overseen by the government, and commercial use of the term organic is legally restricted. Certified organic producers are also subject compliance to the same agricultural, food safety standards and other government regulations that apply equally to non-certified producers.

An eco-label, in the context of organic farming identifies a claimed to be organic product that meets a wide range of environmental performance criteria or standards. Developed by governments, manufacturers, and third-company organizations, eco-labeling is a voluntary approach to environmental certification practiced around the world. In contrast to “green” symbols or claims, an ‘eco-label’ is given to products that have met specific environmental safeguard criteria. As there is a wide range of prod­ucts available in the market, environmental performance labels and declarations vary greatly. The growing number of environmental claims led the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 1992 to issue Title 16-Part 260 CFR: Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing (“Green Guides”). The FTC issued ‘Green Guides’ to help marketers avoid making environmental claims that are unfair or deceptive under Section 5 of the FTC Act. This includes guidance on claims for biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, recycled, and ozone-safe content. The FTC has updated the guides and is currently undergoing an extensive review process. General benefits of eco-labelling include: economic incentives for better long-term custodianship and availability of natural resources vital for economic welfare; competitive and comparative advantage of export products through product differentiation which is realised through price premiums, long-term contracts and market access; a platform for innovation with the use of more environmentally friendly products such as lighting or refrigeration, with knock on benefits in other parts of the economy; and last but not the least providing assistance to countries to fulfil commitments made under environmental agreements such as biodiversity.

Some recent estimates suggest that there are over 400 existing eco-labels marking consumer products in nearly every category and the number are growing rapidly. In the wake of the recent global recession and major economic crisis, however, it appears that consumers are less motivated to purchase green products. For example, in the United Kingdom, sales of certified-organic fruits, vegetables, and meat have plummeted 12.9% in the past year. In other words, green claims are proliferating fast in the marketplace, but there are serious questions about their efficacy in driving sustainability outcomes and their success in creating real consumer preference.
The concept of labeling organic products has been in existence for quite some times now. At present, there are over 300 eco-labels, according to cataloguer Ecolabelindex.com (2010). Competition between eco-labels carries benefits vis-a-vis pitfalls; it can raise the bar on performance, but it also tends to create confusion among consumers, who are left wondering whether organic products are genuine, eco-friendly, recycled or recyclable. To-date, there has been limited research on eco-label design, and very little is known about what drivers affect a label’s market penetration and associated product sales.
Certification for Green Food production involves the regulation of inputs, with the objective of reduced use of pesticides and other agro-chemicals, the oversight of production, and the residue testing of the claimed organic produce. In 1995, Green Food certification is usually split into ‘Grade-A’ and ‘Grade-AA’. It is this bifurcation of Green Food standards that laid the groundwork for the rapid articulation from ‘Green Food certification to Organic certification’. China, for example, has over 30 million hectares of eco-food production. China’s total eco-labelled food production area is 28% of China’s total of 122 million hectares of agricultural land.

Eco-labels have emerged as one of the main tools of green marketing. Although a great deal of effort has gone into in making them more effective and efficient, the market share of eco-labelled products is still low, partly because they have been addressed mainly to ‘green’ consumers. Eco-labels are intended as a means for consumers to make choices that will reduce environmental impact and enable them to influence how products are made. In the Nordic Countries, there are eco-labels for 55 product groups and 2800 products. In Japan, 64 product groups have criteria established for eco-labels and more than 5000 products have been accepted.

The Food Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to marketing sustainable agriculture.  They have a certification program for farms that:

  • Provide Safe and Fair Working Conditions
  • Ensure the Health and Humane Treatment of Animals
  • Do Not Use Hormone or Antibiotic Supplements
  • Do Not Raise Genetically Modified Crops or Livestock (GMOs)
  • Reduce Pesticide Use and Toxicity
  • Protect Water Resources
  • Protect and Enhance Soil Resources
  • Provide Wildlife habitat
  • Continually Improve Practices

While their regulations on pesticide and fertilizer use are less stringent than organic standards, their economic and animal welfare requirements are more rigorous.  (http://www.foodalliance.org/certification/index.html)

Certification and the standardizing eco-labelling procedures are the basic foundations for green marketing of organically produced eco-friendly products; also called ‘green products’ or ‘eco-products’. Certification and labeling systems serve as tools to enhance distribution and market development, create trust, and foster confidence. It is a commitment from producers/farmers to work with certain standards of production. In 2009, the Canadian government implemented the Organic Products Regulation to regulate organic certification. The number of certified organic producers for the local market is growing and there are now Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) initiatives on all continents in terms of the number of farmers involved, with Latin America and India being the leaders. However consumers’ confidence in certification standards in other countries and trust in their labels and products could be increased by the consolidation of standards and regulations between countries like Canada and the US, the world’s first fully reciprocal agreement between regulated organic systems.

The latest developments in organic farming and consumption pattern show dynamic market growth; however the uptake of organic farming by farmers is seen to be fairly slow. In recent years, global market growth has grown over 5%, while the agriculture area in general and organic sector in particular, and have been rather sluggish. Bottlenecks in the adoption of organic farming are often due to production and/or processing (including post-harvest management) problems or even the fact that farmers are not always convinced that organic methods can solve farming problems, such as fertilization, plant protection, animal health, efficient use of workforce, marketing diversity, overall cost effectiveness and competitive economic advantage. Although these problems can sometimes be resolved through continuous learning on existing and regionally practiced methods; innovations nonetheless, are imperative to making organic farming more adaptive, sustainable and regenerative for fetching the benefits of organic farming and organic produce to a wider consumer-base. Farmers must therefore continuously adapt production and management systems in order to maintain and enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of their businesses. The development and implementation of innovations require both in terms of information and the farmers’ willingness to change daily work schedules and methods. Learning and knowledge transfer among farmers, technology developers, experts and university teams ensure the development and application of innovative ideas which are crucial for a sustainable growth in food (and non-food) production.

The ecological significance of sustainable development has increased dramatically since the so called ‘green economy’ and ‘organic production’ of ‘eco-friendly organic produce’ have been turning into sources of competitive advantage for the country of origin in the international markets. A high number of new or modified products (including genetically modified products) are often combined with process innovations; in addition to product innovation. Three very innovative fields in the organic food industry are in the area of ‘genetically modified organisms (GMO)’, ‘functional food’ and ‘organic food’, representing market opportunities, which, however, are also experiencing different obstacles and drivers. A future innovation challenge to the agro-food industry, with focus on organics, will be to tackle the multiple new scientific approaches and technical opportunities that have an interdisciplinary character. The creation and building-up of interfacing competencies as well as the establishment of new external knowledge and competence networks seems to be of strategic relevance for future growth of these categories of industries. The target for policy should be to support the advances of the knowledge base of the food industry companies themselves and the diffusion of new scientific approaches and technology, and not solely concentrate on stimulating knowledge generation with relevance for the food industry in general; and life-style organic products (eco-products in particular).

Organic Farming: The Future perspective

For many years the organic movement was dominated by small farms and businesses, and in most cases farmers received significant premiums for organic products. So in practice, organic agriculture contributed to the economic sustainability of farms and food businesses. Because these economic gains allowed small and medium-sized farms to thrive where similar businesses in conventional agriculture were struggling economically, organic agriculture also had social benefits for rural communities. Many organic supporters saw these benefits as equal in importance to the ecological benefits and central to the overall sustainability of organic agriculture. In recent years, however, large traditional food processors and retailers have bought out most small independent organic processing, distribution, and retail businesses. Most large processing companies and retailers are committed to minimizing the price they pay for organic products and often prefer the ease of dealing with a few large suppliers rather than many small farms.

Future prospects of organic farming should safeguard the basic interests of consumers in the domain of health and prosperity, giving importance to consumption of organic food products – a way to healthy life, voluntary food-labelling to meet lifestyle requirements, exploration of new business opportunities by promoting specialty food products (organics), ensuring fairness to growing green-conscious customers, protection of  ecology, designing  organic research agenda for a sustainable future, innovations in organic gardening for bestowing a new age-defying lifestyle product concept.

Keeping in view the growing importance currently being given by the government and the implicit desirability of embracing eco-friendly and pollution-free cultivation and farming practices, organic farming seems to be a long-term pragmatic solution. With the increasing expressed concerns and consciousness for conservation of natural resources, protection of biodiversity of flora and fauna, protection of environmental quality, improving health and hygiene with changing lifestyle throughout the world organic Farming and Sustainable Agriculture has a great future.

In India, the relative lack of national rules, regulations and specific standards relating to organic food production, inadequate certifying agencies and unrecognized ‘green’ marketing and retailing channels have not only been confusing for producers and consumers alike, but have prevented farmers from exploiting the export market advantages of organic production.
This is a major missed opportunity because most small and marginal farmers in India have actually been practicing organic farming as part of traditional cultivation practice. Thus they have used local or own-farm derived renewable resources and managing self-regulating ecological and biological processes. In fact, this is usually found to be absolutely necessary simply in order to cultivate acceptable levels of crop, livestock and human nutrition products while protecting them from pests and diseases through bio-chemicals and bio-fertilizers (such as Neem extract). However, it is true that the higher cost of such inputs and processes compared to industrially generated fertilizers and pesticides has encouraged many farmers to shift production patterns.

No system of food production can guarantee perfect sustainability.  The organic standards have flaws and gaps, but there are a variety of efforts to address at least some of them.  In addition, consumers, farmers, and processors can seek to buy and produce food with other ethical qualities, such as economic justice (fair trade) and local food. As yet, they account for a small percentage of the food sold both in the US and around the world, but organic and other value-based foods are a rapidly growing part of the market.  Questions about the environmental and social sustainability of our food supply are becoming mainstream.  However, the complexity of the agro-ecosystem and food system make reform challenging.

Reference

  1. FAO (2000). Food Safety as Affected by Organic Farming, FAO Regional Conference for Europe). [Online]. (2000). Available: www.fao.org/docrep/meeting/x4983.htm.
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About Author

Dr. A. N. Sarkar
Ex-Senior Professor (International Business) & Dean (Research), Asia-Pacific Institute of
Management, 3& 4 Institutional Areas, Jasola (Sarita Vihar), New Delhi
E.mail: ansarkar1@gmail.com

Article shared with info@greenecosystem.in, Email Titled “Submission of an Article on ‘Organic Farming, Sustainable Agriculture and Green Marketing’ for Publication in The Green Ecosystem Magazine” dated Sun, November 15, 2015 2:02 am

 

Disclaimer : This article is shared by Author with “Green Ecosystem” voluntarily, free of cost and for the purpose to be shared with everyone for free and Green Ecosystem doesn’t own / reserve any rights of this article, all rights remains with the author (as mentioned above) of this article. Contact info@greenecosystem.in with title of this article if any change.

Role of Eco-Friendly Agricultural Practices in Indian Agriculture Development – Dr. Mandavi Mishra

Eco friendly Agriculture

International Journal of Agriculture and Food Science Technology (IJAFST)
ISSN No. 2249-3050, Volume 4 No. 2 (2013)11

ROLE OF ECO-FRIENDLY AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES IN INDIAN AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT

Mandavi Mishra
Bioversity, International Office for South Asia NASC Complex, Pusa Campus, New Delhi-12

Abstract

Green revolution technologies have more than doubled the yield potential of rice and wheat, especially in Asia. These high input production systems requiring massive qualities of fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation and machines, however, disregard the ecological integrity of land, forests and water resources, endanger the flora and fauna and cannot be sustained over generations. To a great extent, future food security and economic independence of developing countries would depend on improving the productivity of biophysical resources through the application of sustainable production methods, by improving tolerance of crops to adverse environmental conditions and by reducing crop and post-harvest losses caused by pest and diseases. Indigenous agricultural practices can play a key role in the design of sustainable and eco-friendly agricultural systems, increasing the likelihood that the rural population will accept, develop and maintain innovations and interventions. In this context, those eco-friendly methods are being considered as environmentally safe, selective, biodegradable, economical and renewable alternative for use in organic farming system. Organic farming implies, that the use of organic nutrients and adoption of natural methods of plant protection in place of fertilizers and pesticides. To the maximum extent feasible organic farming system rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, legumes, green manures, mineral baring rocks and aspects of biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and tilth to supply plant nutrients and to control in sects, weed and other pests.

Introduction:

Eco-friendly approaches for sustainable agriculture: Agriculture is the most important enterprise in the world. Agriculture is the process of producing food, feed, fiber and other desired products by the cultivation of plants and the raising of domesticated animals. In a true sense, it is a productive unit where human get the free gifts of nature namely, land, light, air, temperature, rain water, humidity etc. are integrated into a single primary unit indispensable for human beings.
The effect of prolonged and over usage of chemicals in crops production has resulted in human health hazards and pollution of environment and ground water. At present, the issue is whether to continue with the chemical inputs-based intensive technologies or to go back to the traditional environment friendly farming practices like organic farming for sustainable production, income and socio-economic development of the farming community. In this context that biological pesticides are being considered as environmentally safe, selective, biodegradable, economical and renewable alternative for use in organic farming system. Green Pesticides or ecological pesticides which are believe to be environmentally friendly and thus cause less harm to the eco system and animal health. In agrology, pesticides are evaluated for minimal average environmental effects. Biocides include germicidal, antibiotic, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antitrotozaols and antiparasites. Pesticides typically came in the form of sprays and dusts. Many ecological pesticides are biological pesticides. Environmental friendly agricultural technologies for food safety appropriate technologies, which do not assault the nature, would have key roles to play in ensuring food security, in improving human health and in rehabilitating and conserving the environment to safeguard the well being of the posterity. Instead of striving for more “green revolutions” with emphasis on miracle seeds, hard-hitting, synthetic and engineered pesticides and increased use of fertilizers, the future must look to natural ways and processes for augmenting agricultural productivity. In fact, all development efforts and activities should be within well defined ecological rules rather than within narrow economic gains. Sustainable agricultural systems must be ecologically sound for long-term food sufficiency, equitable in providing social justice, and ethical in respecting path future generations and other species.

Goal of Eco-Agriculture: (Methods/Procedure)

The aim of eco-agriculture is to manage the resources of rural communities to improve their welfare, preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services, and develop more productive and sustainable farming systems. Eco-agriculture, now emerging as a holistic approach to ecologically and socially responsible land use, represents a vision of rural communities managing their landscape and resources to jointly achieve three goals:

  • Enhance rural livelihoods
  • Conserve or enhance biodiversity and eco-system services
  • Develop more sustainable and productive agricultural system

The core of this ecological-based farming is ensuring that business or agricultural activity is consistent with the natural functions of ecosystems, where for instance, the cycle of soil nutrient’s and biodiversity structure are maintained so as to create a system of agriculture that is resistant to pests and has self-maintained natural soil nutrients. Thus, farmers will no longer depend on costly chemicals and artificial pest control.

In addition, by reviving local or indigenous seed varieties, farmers’ dependence on hybrid seeds commercially produced by multinational companies can be reduced or even eliminated. This will give farmers the freedom to plant seeds in accordance with local natural conditions at a reasonable cost. Consequently, agricultural production costs can be minimized and agricultural commodities sold at a premium price as organic products, which in turn would improve farmers’ incomes. Also, agricultural commodities that are free from chemicals and genetically modified organisms are safes and healthier for human consumption.

In short, eco-agriculture tries to combine conservation with development. Farmers and rural communities are key actors in conserving biodiversity and ecosystems.

Indian farmers have increased production 40 percent by using organic fertilizers in paddy farming systems similar to conventional rice farming.
Making eco-agriculture work requires a favourable institutional environment, suitable financing and good dissemination of information.

To boost Agriculture development, we need to create biodiversity reserves that:

  • benefit local farming communities,
  • Develop habitat networks in non-farmed areas,
  • Reduce land conversion to agriculture by increasing farm productivity,
  • Minimize agricultural pollution,
  • Modify management of soil,
  • Water and vegetation resources,

These steps can be started through initiatives at the grassroots level, with the coordinated and collaborated efforts of various stakeholders, but should include government support in promoting eco-agriculture practices and creating a sustainable agricultural system in India.

Climate change is also having a growing impact on agriculture and requires new practices and approaches to guarantee the sustainability of farming, which still is the main source of livelihood for most Indonesians.

Agriculture is an activity directly related to the use of natural resources. We now often see and hear of crop failures due to climatic influences. This is compounded by farming practices that pay little heed to the rules of ecosystem balance and environmental conservation, which will in turn have an impact on agriculture itself.

Eco-friendly Agricultural practices are as:

  • Agronomy: Cropping pattern, sowing time
  • Water management: Exp.(SRI Technology, DSR,) collection of rain water in pond.
  • Soil conservation and reclamation.
  • Entomological practices: Exp.(IPM Technology) Control termite, American bollworm, sucking pests, other insects, spray related practices)
  • Storage : pulses stored mud containers, Neem leaves (Azadirachta indica)
  • Zoology : Rat control by cat n pet dogs

Classification of Eco-friendly Agricultural Practices: 

The following classification of eco-friendly practices are,

  • Crop production
  • Soil management
  • Water management
  • Weed control
  • Insect-pest control
  • Weather forecast
  • Agricultural engineering
  • Home management
  • Clothing and textile
  • Animal husbandry

Sustainable Agriculture:

Sustainable agriculture is a complex issue associated with producing food while maintaining our biophysical resources including soil, water and biota with no adverse impacts on the wider environment. It should:

  • Maintain or improve the production of clean food
  • Maintain or improve the quality of landscapes, which includes soils, water, biota and aesthetics
  • Have minimal impact on the wide environment
  • Be acceptable to society

 Concerns of Eco-friendly sustainable agriculture:

The concept of sustainability has many dimensions. It can be used to mean economic sustainability, social sustainability, institutional sustainability as well as environmental sustainability. The environmental sustainability agenda in agriculture, which is the topic of this paper, covers the protection of the resource base, the reduction of negative externalities and the promotion of positive externalities. Principal issues include water quality and quantity, air quality, soil erosion, biodiversity, and landscape protection as well as food safety and animal welfare. The agenda includes:

  1. Water quality and quantity concerns:
    Issues here include leaching of nutrients and pesticides, water extraction and drainage and flooding. Contamination of both ground and surface waters caused by high levels of production and use of manure and chemical fertilisers is a serious problem, particularly in areas of intensive livestock or specialised crop production.
  2. Air quality concerns:
    The issues here are emissions of ammonia and greenhouse gases. At EU level, agriculture is responsible for about 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions but due to the pastoral nature of Irish farming, the proportion here rises to 30%.
  3. Biodiversity concerns:
    Issues include genetic, species and ecosystem diversity. The intensification of agriculture has led to widespread reduction of species and habitats.
  4. Landscape concerns:
    The marginalisation of agricultural land can lead to its abandonment if farming ceases to be viable. Alternatively, intensification of agriculture can lead to the loss of important landscape features such as hedges and ponds, the enlargement of fields and the replacement of traditional farm buildings with industrial structures. Rights of access may be restricted in interests of more efficient farming.
  5. Soil erosion concerns:
    Overgrazing particularly in mountain areas has led to the erosion of vegetation cover with the consequent loss of soil, the silting of rivers, etc.
  6. Food safety and animal welfare concern:
    The issue here is the effect of agricultural practices on human health and animal well-being rather than the physical environment. There is concern about the consequences for the quality and safety of the food supply of the increasing use of pesticides and drugs, as well as the consequences of introducing genetically-modified organisms.

Eco-friendly approaches for farming system:  The following eco-friendly approaches are as,

  • Organic farming :
    Organic farming is a production system, which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. To the maximum extent feasible, organic farming system rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, lagumes, green manures, off-farm organic wastes, mechanical cultivation, mineral-bearing rocks, and aspects of biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and tilth, to supply plant nutrients, and to control insects, weeds, and other pests.
  • Biological farming:
    Biological farming allows the use of selected chemical fertilize3rs (avoiding disruptive materials such as anhydrous ammonia and potassium choloride) and adopts low
    inputs approaches to use of herbicides and insecticides. (diagnostic instruments to monitor plant and soil conditions are frequently used in biological farming. These include refract meters to monitor sugar content (Brix) in plant tissue sap; electrical conductivity meters to monitor ERGS (or energy released per gram of soil); ORPS meters (or oxygen reduction potential of soil); and radionics.)
  • Nature farming:
    In addition to these methods based approaches to sustainable farming, regenerative agriculture and permaculture are widely recognized. However, these letter systems, like sustainable agriculture, are more conceptually oriented than methods based.
  • Regenerative Agriculture:
    In regenerative agriculture bunds on nature’s own inherent capacity to cope with pests, enhance soil fertility, and increase productivity. It implies a continuing ability to re-create the resources that the system requires. In practice, regenerative agriculture uses low input and organic farming systems as a frame work to achieve these goals.
  • Permaculture:
    Permaculture is concerned with designing ecological human habitats and food production systems, and follows specific guidelines and principles in the design of these systems. To the extent that permaculture is not a production system, per se, but rather a land use planning philosophy, it is not limited to a specific method of production. Thus, practically any site specific ecological farming system is amenable to permaculture.

Problems and suggestions on the use of eco-friendly practices in crop production in India

  • Problem – Farmers became bound to use chemical pesticides in case of severe attract.
    Suggestion – Increasing opportunity for availability of necessary of raw materials for compost, green manures, bio-fertilizer, bio-pesticide, etc
  • Problem – Lack of sufficient publicity through different media regarding the use of eco-friendly practices
    Suggestion – More publicity should be given in different media.
  • Problem – Lack of proper technical knowledge about eco-friendly agricultural practices
    Suggestion – Establishment of adult education for increasing eco-friendly agricultural practices.
  • Problem – Lack of awareness of environment pollution
    Suggestion – Increasing farmers awareness on environmental pollution.
  • Problem – Lack of livestock and poultry for necessary excreta.
    Suggestion -Increasing motivational program for rearing more livestock and poultry.
  • Problem – Lack of proper training on eco-friendly agricultural practices related organization.
    Suggestion – Arranging proper training on eco-friendly agricultural practices specially by GOs and NGOs collaboration.
  • Problem – Limited availability of ready-made ingredients to prepare compost botanical fertilizer and pesticides.
    Suggestion – Increasing opportunities for availability of necessary ingredients and more awareness on environment pollution.
  • Problem – No punishment for failure and awarded for the successful adopters of eco-friendly practised farmers/change agent.
    Suggestion – Establishment the punishment for failure and awarded for the successful adopters of eco-friendly practised farmers/change agent.
  • Problem – Lack of proper sell value due to involvement of middle men.
    Suggestion – Government should strictly control the whole sale and retail market both centrally and locally.
  • Problem – Unpopularity of agro-chemical free products.
    Suggestion – Making social movement on increasing popularity of agro-chemical free products.

The methods of ecological agriculture are based on modern ecological science combined with time-tested indigenous knowledge, giving emphasis on the mode of cultivation through Integrated Crop Management (ICM), which providing Integrated Farming System (IFS), Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for crop production. ICM program arranging FFS and provide various types of training courses on eco-friendly agriculture for their club members in order to increase their eco-friendly agricultural knowledge and to make a favorable attitude and adoption of these activities. Sometimes, ICM program provides financial facility to its group members for practicing ecological agriculture and help them for marketing their ecologically produced organic products.

Conclusion:

In a healthy farm system, agriculture works in harmony with the natural environment. This begins with healthy soil that stores water and nutrients and provides a stable base to support plant roots. In a sustainable system, soil is kept in balance. Crops are rotated through the fields to replace nutrients in the soil. Where there is livestock, animals graze the land, then waste from those animals is used to fertilize the soil. The idea is that as farmers take from the land they also give back. Industrial farms disregard that need for balance. Land is used continuously and not given proper rest. Crops are not rotated in a way that replenishes the soil. Manure and chemical fertilizers are used to “feed” the soil, but through over-application these additives become a problem.

Organic, mechanical, physical and cultural practices of agriculture are mainly used in ecological agriculture. Chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides not only contaminate surface water, they also affect fish population and human health as well. To regain the lost ecological status, it is high time to start the ecological agriculture without further delay. Some NGOs, GOs became very much concerned about the devastating effect of indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides since long, and earnestly felt the need for developing an alternative agricultural strategy that is sustainable, productive and environment-friendly. Since 1985 DAE has
been working towards development of this alternative strategy and termed it as “Eco-friendly agriculture”

 

Reference:

  1. Despande, R. and Ratna Reddy (1990): “Social Dynamics and Farmers Society: A Case Study of Pani
    Pan dhyats,” Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics 45:3 p.356-61.
  2. Duraippah, A. (1996) “Poverty and Environmental Protection: A Literature Review and Analysis.” CREED working paper series No. 8, International Institute for Environment and Development, London.
  3. FAO (2000) http://www.fao.org
  4. G.S. Bist, Y.P.Singh & Sanjay Kumar (2005) http://www.ifpri.com
  5. IFAD (2001) report form Andhra Pradesh Tribal Development Project, Asia and pacific Division/IFAD, PCR.

 

About Author :
Mandavi Mishra, works with Ministry of Food and Agriculture and can be contacted at facebook ,
Above article is also published at Link

Disclaimer : This article is shared by Author with “Green Ecosystem” voluntarily, free of cost and for the purpose to be shared with everyone for free and Green Ecosystem doesn’t own / reserve any rights of this article, all rights remains with the author (as mentioned above) of this article. Contact info@greenecosystem.in with title of this article if any change.