HOW TO START ORGANIC FARMING
Here are the key steps involved in how to start organic farming:
- Identify mineral rich land
- Build healthy soil
- Usage of healthy seeds free from GMO (Genetically modified organisms)
- Maintaining healthy cows is integral. The manure helps in recycling nutrients for the soil and encourages growth of healthy crops.
- Good quality compost
- Adopt techniques like mulching (covering the soil around plants to prevent weeds from growing), intercropping (two crops grown in alternate rows) and green manure (growing leguminous plants to improve soil fertility).
- Monitoring from seeding to harvesting
- Organic certification
With consumers becoming more health conscious and preferring to eat clean, healthy and natural food, several countries have been offering support programmes to help organic farming. It is essential to obtain organic certification which gives an assurance to consumers that the food product is truly organic. The certification is issued after verifying the production standards. Only those who comply with the set standards are given a certification. The organic farming movement in India received assistance from IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements), an umbrella organization for organic agriculture movements. It has about 600 members from 120 countries. All India Federation of Organic Farming (AIFOF) is also a member with NGOs, farmer organisations and institutions.
Getting organic certification
In order to get certified as organic food, it is mandatory that no chemicals must be used in the crops for a minimum period of three years. Subsequently, officials from the agriculture department will assess the land and issue the certification. Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) inspects and certifies organic products in India. State Governments have recently established specific agencies to look into the authentication of organic farming.
Marketing the organic produce
First of all, awareness about the importance of organic farming must be spread in towns and cities through exhibitions and fairs, where the produce can be sold. Promotional activities can be carried out on social media platforms. The organic produce can be made available at places with large customer reach, such as supermarkets. Attractive packaging is another key factor in the marketing of organic products. The pack must list out all the nutrient composition and the product benefits neatly printed in English and regional languages. One must identify the target market with greater demand and ensure supply to those areas. It is also important to facilitate online delivery to spread the service effectively across all the places.
Organic farming is not free from challenges when things might be out of control, especially weather woes or natural disasters. But one needs to take consistent action to overcome the challenges. An effective plan, patience, persistence and good organisation is necessary in the successful journey of organic farming.