Organic agriculture is one among the broad spectrum of production methods that are supportive of the environment. Organic production systems are based on specific standards precisely formulated for food production and aim at achieving agro ecosystems, which are socially and ecologically sustainable. It is based on minimizing the use of external inputs through use of onfarm resources efficiently compared to industrial agriculture. Thus the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is avoided.
The international Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements has formulated four broad principles of organic farming, which are the basic rules for organic agricultural growth and development in a global context.
1. PRINCIPLE OF HEALTH
Organic agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plants, animals, humans and planet as one indivisible unit. Health is the wholeness and integrity of the living system. It is not simply the absence of illness, but the maintenance of physical, mental, social and ecological well-being. Immunity resilience and regeneration are key characteristics of health. In particular, organic agriculture is meant to produce high quality, nutritious food that can contribute to preventive health care and well being.
2. PRINCIPLE OF ECOLOGY
Organic agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help to sustain them. Organic agriculture should attain ecological balance through the design of farming systems, establishment of habitats and maintenance of genetic and agricultural diversity. Those who produce, process, trade or consume organic products should protect and benefit the common environment including the landscapes, climate, habitat, biodiversity, air and water.
3. PRINCIPLE OF FAIRNESS
Organic agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities. Fairness is characterized by equity, respect, justice, stewardship of the shared world, both among people and in their relations to other living beings. Fairness requires systems of production, distribution and trade that are open and equitable and account for real environmental and social cost.
4. PRINCIPLE OF CARE
Organic agriculture should be managed in precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and wellbeing of current and future generations and the environment. It should prevent significant risk by adopting appropriate technologies and rejecting unpredictable ones, such as genetic engineering. Decisions should reflect the value and needs of all who mught be affected, through transparent participatory process.* (Source: IFOA)
DEFINITIONS PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES
Many definitions have been proposed for organic agriculture. Ethical issues such as fair labour practices and animal ethics have also been included in organic agriculture definitions. All these however primarily focus on ecological principles as the basis for crop production and animal husbandry.
Codex Almentarius Commission, a joint body of FAO/WHO framed certain guidelines for the production, processing, labeling and marketing of organically produced foods, with a view to facilitate trade and prevent misleading claims.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission defines organic agriculture as a holistic food production management systems which promotes and enchances agro ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activities. It emphasizes the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account the regional conditions require locally adapted systems. This accomplished by using, where possible, agronomic, biological and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfil any specific function within the system.