Demand for food is sure to increase because of increase in population and increase in incomes, even though these demands and the ability to meet the demand are not equal in all communities. Indeed, Today’s global agricultural production is enough to feed the current world population with both necessary technologies and multi-lateral environmental agreements are available for help to meet development and conservation needs.
However, hunger, poverty and environmental degradation persist even as concerns about global human security issues continue to increase. Moreover, the last decades provided uncompromising evidence of diminishing returns on grains despite the rapid increase of chemical pesticides and fertilizer applications (Sanders, 2006), resulting in lower confidence that these high input technologies will provide for equitable household and national food security in the next decade. Overall, global cereal production is declining mainly among the major producing and exporting countries (*Source : FAO 2007).
FROM MODERN FARMING TO ORGANIC FARMING - EVOLUTION
Increasing conciousness about conservation of environment as well as health hazards associated with agro chemicals - and growing demand of safe and hazard free food are the major factors that lead to growing interest in alternative forms of agriculture in the world. Organic Agriculture is one among the board spectrum of production method that are supportive to the environment.
Before the 19th century, most of the food for human consumption in the world was produced using organic manure and human and animal power. The agricultural revolution began in England in the early 19th century. The first tractor with an internal combustion engine was developed in the United States in 1910. Around the same time, German chemist Fritz Haber developed the process of ammonia synthesis, which led to the manufacture of nitrogen fertilizer in Europe and the US. Fertilizer N was to benefit from the discovery of high-yielding, hybrid corn.
The insecticidal property of DDT was discovered in 1939 by P. Muller in Switzerland. It was followed by the discovery of BHC in France and United Kingdom Nitro phenols were the first group of selective herbicides developed in 1933 and were followed by the development of 2, 4-D and MCPA in 1940.
Thus by the middle of the 20th century, most of the components of modern agriculture – tractors and associated farm machines, fertilizers and agro-chemicals were in use on agricultural farms in the developed world. These technological advances helped modern agriculture to come to the aid of the hungry because the world population more than doubled during the last half of the twentieth century. It is predicted the world population will double itself by the end of the 21st century.
Though the modern techniques, especially the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides as well as high-yielding varieties of seeds, helped substantially increase food production to meet growing needs, the ill effects of these inputs were recognized as early as in the middle of the 1960s.
Finding pesticide residues in food produces and associated health risks in the developed countries paved the way for the formation of opinion against the modern techniques of agriculture and led to enquiries into alternative methods of agriculture.
The route of organic farming can be traiced in Europe back to the early 20th century. Silent Spring by well-known environmentalist Rachel Carson in 1962 which exposed the hazards the pesticides DDT, and drew the attention of the world to the problems caused by the use of chemical pesticides. The need for environmental protection came to the fore and the cause received a lot of publicity among opinion-makers across the world.
It must be kept in mind that just as the modern agricultural inputs like synthetic pesticides and fertilizers were developed in the developed world, the search for the alternatives too originated in these developed countries.
One-Straw Revolution by Japanese farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka 1975 is a landmark in the journey to organic farming. In the book, he established that productivity equaling that of modern agriculture can be achieved using natural farming methods. This book has been translated in to more than 25 languages and has helped make founder leader in the world wide sustainable agriculture methods. His book is a thesis on this.
The formation of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements in 1972 provided an international framework for discussion and codification of internationally recognized principles of organic farming.
The concept of organic farming is described in different terminologies. Some call it natural farming, others call it ecological farming, sustainable agriculture, prima culture etc.
Bio-dynamic agriculture was the first form of organic farming pioneered in the tropical regions in 1929 when a German farmer started to produce Demeter Coffee in Mexico. Other examples followed in New Zealand, Australia and Africa, all of them pioneered by European pioneers.A trade mark 'demetr ' was introdused by austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner for food produced in bio-dynamic farming systems.
Non-governmental agencies induced the pioneering efforts in developing countries in organic agriculture. It can also be recalled that beginning of the 1980s saw a
number of NGOs from developing countries observed the market for organic produces in the developed world as an opportunity to add more value to agricultural operations
based on organic principles.
Source: Organic farming