Organic farming is a relatively new concept to us, though we are practicing it for thousands of years without noticing. Organic farming is nothing but cultivating foods and other agricultural products using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms, and are not processed using irradiation. Organic food is produced with:
- No synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fumigants
- No fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge
- No genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- No irradiation
- No hormones, antibiotics, artificial ingredients or trans fats.
In simple words organic farming is way and means to cultivate naturally, in other word primitively in a sense. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.
A Brief History of Organic Food
Until the early part of the 20th Century pretty much all the food grown across the world was organic. It wasn’t called organic food – it was just food. Nobody had thought of putting chemicals into soil and sprays to enhance crop growth and yield.
And genetic engineering took place over generations as farmers selectively bred to improve their stock or their seeds. Organic food farming continued in small, mostly family-run, farms or kitchen gardens where people grew food for their own requirements. The produce was sold in farmer’s markets. Large scale organic farming was begun by farmers and scientists, as a mark of protest to the agricultural industrialization. With the rise of the petro-chemical industries in the early 1900s, agricultural research became focused very much on the chemicals that are needed for plant and animal growth.
That these chemicals come from finite resources, most often as by-products of oil refining, was rarely thought of. That they could cause other problems was seldom recognized until the problems became too big to ignore. In the 1930s there was a reaction against the use of chemical additives in people’s food. It was led, in part, by Rudolf Steiner who also designed an educational system based on his holistic and sustainable outlook. These early organic farmers and foodies laid the foundations for today’s interest in sustainable lifestyles.
Now, organic food is widely available and has become very popular, with soaring sales. Principles of Organic Agriculture: These Principles are the roots from which organic agriculture grows and develops. They express the contribution that organic agriculture can make to the world, and a vision to improve all agriculture in a global context. The Principles of Organic Agriculture serve to inspire the organic movement in its full diversity and guide our development of positions, programs and standards.
Principle of Health
Organic Agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible. This principle points out that the health of individuals and communities cannot be separated from the health of ecosystems – healthy soils produce healthy crops that foster the health of animals and people. Health is the wholeness and integrity of living systems. 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.
The role of organic agriculture, whether in farming, processing, distribution, or consumption, is to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings. In particular, organic agriculture is intended to produce high quality, nutritious food that contributes to preventive health care and well-being. In view of this it should avoid the use of fertilizers, pesticides, animal drugs and food additives that may have adverse health effects. Principle of Ecology Organic Agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.
This principle roots organic agriculture within living ecological systems. It states that production is to be based on ecological processes, and recycling. Nourishment and well-being are achieved through the ecology of the specific production environment. For example, in the case of crops this is the living soil; for animals it is the farm ecosystem; for fish and marine organisms, the aquatic environment. Organic farming, pastoral and wild harvest systems should fit the cycles and ecological balances in nature. These cycles are universal but their operation is site-specific.
Organic management must be adapted to local conditions, ecology, culture and scale. Inputs should be reduced by reuse, recycling and efficient management of materials and energy in order to maintain and improve environmental quality and conserve resources. 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 landscapes, climate, habitats, biodiversity, air and water.
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 and stewardship of the shared world, both among people and in their relations to other living beings. This principle emphasizes that those involved in organic agriculture should conduct human relationships in a manner that ensures fairness at all levels and to all parties – farmers, workers, processors, distributors, traders and consumers.
Organic agriculture should provide everyone involved with a good quality of life, and contribute to food sovereignty and reduction of poverty. It aims to produce a sufficient supply of good quality food and other products. This principle insists that animals should be provided with the conditions and opportunities of life that accord with their physiology, natural behavior and well-being. Natural and environmental resources that are used for production and consumption should be managed in a way that is socially and ecologically just and should be held in trust for future generations. Fairness requires systems of production, distribution and trade that are open and equitable and account for real environmental and social costs.
Principle of Care Organic
Agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment. Organic agriculture is a living and dynamic system that responds to internal and external demands and conditions. Practitioners of organic agriculture can enhance efficiency and increase productivity, but this should not be at the risk of jeopardizing health and well-being.
Consequently, new technologies need to be assessed and existing methods reviewed. Given the incomplete understanding of ecosystems and agriculture, care must be taken. This principle states that precaution and responsibility are the key concerns in management, development and technology choices in organic agriculture. Science is necessary to ensure that organic agriculture is healthy, safe and ecologically sound. However, scientific knowledge alone is not sufficient. Practical experience, accumulated wisdom and traditional and indigenous knowledge offer valid solutions, tested by time.
Organic agriculture should prevent significant risks by adopting appropriate technologies and rejecting unpredictable ones, such as genetic engineering. Decisions should reflect the values and needs of all who might be affected, through transparent and participatory processes.
How can we be sure that our Food is Organic? The early followers of organics were often dismissed as anti-scientific cranks. Nowadays, organic production is one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture, and there are millions of dollars being spent to research more sustainable farming methods.
But, unfortunately, organics still account for a minority of the foods grown. Most nations have a government regulated system that certifies that those people who claim to be selling organic produce are actually doing so. It will vary from country to country, but most systems will be affiliated with the international umbrella organization IFOAM. We can check with IFOAM to make sure that the organic accreditation is actually recognized.
Organic products grown in healthier soil contain higher amounts of nutrients, and many taste better than their conventional counterparts. Hence, the popularity of such produce is picking up volumes in recent years. There is no better choice for one’s consumption than organic produce. Organic Vegetables and Fruits Organic vegetables and fruits are the most common type of organic food that is available in the market. They come in a wide variety and they are usually in good quality. Any certified organic plant product must come from fields that have remained free of chemical application of fertilizers and pesticides for at least three years, and must follow regulations set by Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.
Organic Meat Organic meat is perfect for meat lovers as in is healthy and not contain any chemicals in the meat as the animals are fed with natural food that does not contain chemicals. Organic provisions require animals to be raised without receiving antibiotics, hormones, or growth stimulants. Humane treatment and access to the out-of-doors are stipulated, and the animals must be fed 100% certified organic feed and must graze in certified organic pastures. Organic Dairy Products Organic dairy products are extremely popular in recent years as they are safe and healthy to consume.
Milk from all dairy animals, including cows, goats, and sheep, may be certified organic. Certified organic products cover nearly the full dairy spectrum, including milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, cottage cheese, sour cream, ice cream, and more. Organic Fish Organic fish are fishes that are rare in fish farms such as salmon, trout, cod, halibut and sea bass. Fishes that are caught in the open see cannot be labeled as organic due to the fact that it is uncertain of what the fishes eat. Advantages of Organic Foods: The debate about the advantages of organic foods is over.
According to a new $25-million study into organic food – the largest of its kind to date – organic food is more nutritious than ordinary produce and it may help to lengthen peoples lives and prevent disease.
The European Union funded study found that organic fruit and vegetables have up to 50% more antioxidants, which scientists believe can cut the risk of cancer and heart disease. They have also more vitamins and minerals such as iron and zinc. According to other recent studies, organic foods are better for fighting cancer.
And people eating organic food have improved immune system, better sleeping habits and are less likely to be overweight than when eating “conventional” foods. (Can you imagine the benefits of eating both raw and organic food? ) Better Taste The taste of organic fruits and vegetables is often superior to any conventional produce. That’s why many top restaurants use organic produce in their menu. Today, most fruits and veggies are manipulated to look and stay good. The strawberries from your ordinary supermarket may look great on your cake but they have virtually no taste. However, the taste of fresh organic fruits is irresistible!
Safer for Babies and Children
The advantages of organic foods might be highest for babies. The average baby is born with 200 toxins and carcinogens in its body. By the time kids reach their 2nd year, most have pasted the lethal limit for the toxins. By feeding your child organic food, it will have about 1/6th the amount of carcinogens in its blood. Thus you will decrease the chances of illnesses significantly. Therefore, especially for infants and children a raw organic food diet is incredibly important. Irradiation? Do we ever wonder why organic vegetables and fruits seem to spoil so much faster than produce from normal supermarkets?
The reason is that many foods are irradiated. Irradiation kills bacteria and extends food life. But, it also alters the molecular structure and life force of the food. Some irradiation methods use radioactive substances, others high energy electrons or X-rays. I don’t know about you, but I prefer my food pure and not irradiated. So one of the advantages of raw organic foods is that it still has life force. Raw organic seeds grow – cooked and irradiated seeds don’t GMO Secrets Organic food stores don’t sell genetically modified (GM) food. It’s suspected that GM food causes allergies and decreases your immune system.
Government is being secret – at least vague – about the health consequences of GMO food. I’ve read enough to not want to take a chance. Do you? Shocking Animals Organic meat, fish and poultry is healthier for you. Organic farmed animals are raised without dangerous chemicals, growth hormones or antibiotics. Pesticides used in ordinary farming don’t just affect the animal who eats it first. They accumulate in their tissues (mostly fat). Animals on top of the food chain get the highest concentration of these chemicals. Conventional animals full of toxins and dirt.
A cow, chicken or pig will retain most of the pesticides it has ever eaten (directly or indirectly through other animals). Factory farm animals are fed great quantities of (polluted) fish, food doused in pesticides and fed many unnatural compounds never eaten by wild animals. Inorganic animal food (meat, fish, dairy and eggs) is a main source of pollution to the environment. According to research animal food contribute to as much as 95% of the toxic chemical residues in the American diet. Meat, fish and poultry have 10 times the amount of the dangerous chemicals DDT, DDE and TDE as conventional produce.
In addition intensive farming is incredibly cruel to farm animals. One of the most outrageous advantages of organic foods is that organic farms treat their animals much more humane. They place a great emphasis on animal welfare. Just for this reasons, switching to an organic living makes sense. And even consider becoming vegan. Save the Environment Organic food facts are especially striking if you consider the environment. Conventional farming methods erode soil and use dangerous pesticides that may take centuries before they’re gone.
Think of the DDT, thought to be harmless but appeared to be extremely bad for your health. Even though this pesticide has been forbidden for many years now, it’s still found in virtually all waters, human beings and animals in the world… In addition, over time, artificial pest controls become less and less effective, so that even more chemicals must be used or other methods found. One of the huge advantages of organic food is that buying it has a huge positive impact on the environment, the animals and people who live on it. Organic vs. Non-organic:
A new study looking at the potential health benefits of organic versus non-organic food found that fruit flies fed an organic diet recorded better health outcomes than flies fed a nonorganic diet. The study from the lab of Southern Methodist University biologist Johannes H. Bauer, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, found that fruit flies raised on diets of organic foods performed better on several tests for general health. Flies on organic food performed better on some health tests “The data demonstrated that flies raised on organic food extracts by-and-large performed better on the majority of health tests,” reported the researchers.
It remains unclear why organic diets delivered better health, the researchers said. The Bauer lab results come at a time when the health effects of organic food are widely debated. Prior studies by other researchers have found conflicting results when reviewing the scientific literature for data. While several studies have shown elevated nutrient content and lower pesticide contamination levels in organic food, a recent publication reporting a large-scale analysis of all available studies concluded no clear trend was apparent. Organic farming only uses naturally occurring chemicals or traditional remedies to control pests and diseases.
According to public perception, organic food is the healthy option. Sales of organic produce have rocketed over the past few years with the organics industry sending out messages of safer, healthier food created by farming practices which are better for the environment. But is it really as good as we think? Critics argue that organic farming leads to the risk of contamination with potentially dangerous bacteria and mould toxins, and increased levels of ‘natural pesticide’ found in organic produce could even be as dangerous as synthetic chemicals. So who do we believe? Are organic fruit and vegetables as harmless as they appear?
And why do they cost so much? In this piece, common views about this subject are discussed. Is organic food the healthier option? Is it as safe as the public think? Many in the public perceive organic food as the healthy option. However, organo-sceptics argue that organic food may not be as safe as we think.
The public’s viewpoint is based on the fact that no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers are used in organic agriculture leading to the assumption that no pesticide residues are present on the products. Without the use of pesticides, organic crops develop a natural defense mechanism in the form of chemicals all called phenols.
The organic supporters claim that these chemicals are antioxidants and that organic fruit and vegetables are better at protecting the body from cancers and heart disease. Organic-sceptics argue that these natural pesticides may be a potential health risk and insist that there is no evidence to show health gains from organic food. The lack of evidence, however, may be due to the difficulty in conducting such a study. •The use of manure as a fertilizer in organic farming leads to fears of contamination of produce with bacteria such as E.
coli which could lead to food poisoning. However, it has been shown that by composting the manure for a precise time at an exact temperature, the amount of bacteria present is greatly reduced. As long as these conditions are adhered to, the risk of food poisoning is kept to a minimum. •Another significant concern regarding organic farming is the contamination of produce with toxic substances produced by moulds called mycotoxins. There is a greater chance of crops being vulnerable to moulds if they are damaged by insects or weather. The
organic lobby argues that although less effective fungicides are used in their farming methods, organic produce is less prone to fungal attack as crops are not fed with chemicals known as nitrates which may make plant cells in conventional crops more vulnerable to fungal growth. Are the levels of pesticides used in conventional farming enough to damage health? The quantities of pesticides used in agriculture are declining as the industry is developing more efficient methods of delivery and pesticides which have the ability to target specific pests more accurately.
Pesticides have played an important role in improving crop yields but are often hazardous materials. Care must be taken when using such materials to ensure that they are applied as advised to minimize risks associated with misuse. Before a pesticide can be used commercially its safety must first be proved. The law requires that only pesticides approved by Government regulators shall be sold, supplied, used, stored or advertised. This ensures that the levels and toxicity of all pesticides used in agriculture are at a safe level. Is organic farming a viable option in the developing world?
It is argued that without pesticides and genetically modified crops, farming is not economically viable in the developing world. Non-organic farming allows you to farm land that would otherwise not be farmable. Yields are high and costs are low. However, there is a worry that intensive farming in these countries will destroy the fertility of the land and in the long run organic farming will secure the future for sustainable farming. Why is the price of organic produce so high? Crop rotations, higher animal welfare standards and restricted use of chemicals, leading to lower yields, all mean that organic food costs more to produce.
Subsidies from the government are paid mainly to farmers with non-organic farms allowing them to keep their prices low. The pro-organic lobby argues that when buying non-organic food you are in fact paying threefold; once at the counter, second via taxation and third to remedy the environmental pollution. As the sector develops and technologies are improved, the cost of organic food should decrease as yields increase and production costs decrease. Organic Food market: From economic point of view, organic market is growing very fast worldwide. A simple statistics can tell a lot.
Global Industry Guide”, the global organic food market grew nearly 10% in 2009 to reach a value of $60 billion and market is forecasted to have a value of $96. 5 billion in 2014. Organic agriculture offers enormous trade opportunities for farmers in the developing and least developed countries. This organic market expansion makes it possible for farmers to reap the benefits of a trade with relatively high price premiums. Food producer have also found fast growing markets for natural and organic products.
One example is Earthbound Farm, a company that grows and sells organic product. It started in 1984 as a 2. 5-acre raspberry farm in California’s Carmel Valley. Founders Drew and Mera Goodman wanted to do the right thing by farming the land organically and producing food they’d feel good about serving to their family, friends, and neighbors. Today Earthbound Farm has become the world largest producer of organic vegetables, with 40000 acres under plug, annual sells of $480 million, and products available in 75% of America supermarkets.
Organic farming, on the other hand, promotes the health of both consumers and the environment contrast to modern farming. The main problem with modern agriculture, however, is that the synthetic chemicals never disappear. When we eat a mango grown using synthetic pesticides, traces of the pesticides remain in the mango, and the chemicals end up in our fat cells. Similarly, cotton grown using synthetic chemicals retains traces of the chemicals after it is woven into a fabric. Chemicals, used for cultivation are then absorbed into the plant, air, soil, water, and eventually, our bodies.
Started after mid 1950’s reaction against modern toxic farming methods, organic farming excludes the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and genetic engineering. Organic farmers respect their land: they feed and build the soil with natural fertilizers; they protect crops against insects using natural insect predators, barriers, or traps; and they control weed growth with crop rotation, hand weeding, cover crops, and mulches. In the past decade, the organic agriculture market has grown exponentially because more consumers are learning that organic farming is better for them and their environment.
The marketing model used in conventional agriculture is not easily applied to organic systems. Currently, local elevators that accept organic grains are not common, though they do exist in some areas. Farmers that transition to organic production must also transition their marketing strategies. Whether growing organic grains, herbs, fruits and vegetables, or raising organically certified livestock, marketing becomes an additional consideration. Producers who have always sold to local elevators will find that quality time will be needed to do a good job with marketing organic products.
Organic Foods Strategic Marketing and Communications
The “Go Green” trend is quickly gaining momentum. Law makers are actively working to pass legislation that promotes the development of green energy sources, manufacturers are researching technologies that can be used to produce new biodegradable products, and USDA certified organic foods are increasingly finding their way into every home. More than other green initiatives, the demand for organic foods has soared in recent years.
With the implementation of new federal requirements for labeling of natural and organic foods, and the growing research that suggests links between foods produced using antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, irradiation or bioengineering and illnesses such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, consumers are gaining confidence in the quality and benefits of organic foods and increasingly rejecting their conventionally produced counterparts. As young people grow up consuming organic foods and learn to accept them as healthier and more eco-friendly, the organic foods industry will continue to gain market share.
Many organic farmers link in to existing networks of organic wholesalers, exporters and processors. Others use the opportunity provided by their change to organic, to take on a completely different approach such as direct marketing to consumers. This fact sheet discusses some of the options for marketing of organic produce and poses some questions to be considered as we develop our marketing strategy. A small but rapidly growing market The market for organic food and fiber has been growing around the world for some years now. It is however still very small, making up only about one per cent of the world total market value.
One of the risks associated with supplying product into a small market, is that of oversupply of certain products, leading to depressed prices. To help avoid this situation, some market research is vital early in the process of considering organic conversion and certification, as highlighted below. Some organic farmers manage the risk of oversupply in organic markets by selling into conventional markets when necessary. This means sacrificing any organic price premium, but can help to stabilize prices in the organic market – a benefit in the longer term. Organic price premiums
Many organic products receive a price premium, justified by higher costs of production under organic management. Such premiums are not guaranteed and can be influenced by the supply and demand situation and product quality. Whether or not your produce is likely to attract a premium price, and whether or not a premium is necessary for economic viability, should be considered during your market research and development of a marketing strategy. Consider marketing options early One of the first steps in the process towards organic certification is to identify marketing options.
We should ideally have our markets organized before you begin certification, especially if you think you will need to receive a price premium to cover extra costs arising from organic management. The change to organic marketing may be easy if you already sell direct to end-consumers or retailers who might welcome the access to organic produce, or to wholesalers and exporters who have links to organic markets. If your wholesalers/exporters currently have no links with the organic industry, are they interested in pursuing organic certification to diversify their business?
If not, some research may be required to identify suitable alternative marketing options. Develop a marketing strategy When you are planning your change to organic farming and are looking at marketing options, take the time to consider what your marketing objectives are and how you might achieve them. Pulling this and other relevant information together into a marketing strategy will help us to focus your efforts in the most productive areas. Some key points to consider are:
- Be closely involved in selling your produce or leave it to a ‘professional’ marketer?
- Maintain a diversity of markets to spread the risk in case the usual supply chain fails for you?
- Have direct contact with end consumers?
- Use customer feedback to guide farm production (e. g. crop varieties and seasonal availability)?
- Increase financial security by improving returns?
- Consider different marketing options Following are options that organic farmers commonly use to market their produce, along with some of their pros and cons from a farmer’s perspective.
Often a range of different options will be used to balance the risk, the workload and the prices obtained.
- Direct to consumers
- Direct to retailers
- Direct to Wholesaler
- Use mass media
Look for opportunities to tell a story that gets media attention as this exposes potential new customers to our organic business and products. One area of opportunity is to piggy-back onto relevant local, state, national and global events. For example, contact local media with an interesting story about:
- National Organic Week (e. g. highlight local organic production and produce availability)
- Earth Day and World Environment Day (e. g. how organic farming reduces environmental impacts)
- Organic Day (e. g. promote citizen buying organic produce within the country as an example)
- National Tree Day (e. g. plant a treed spray buffer)
- World wetlands day (e. g. how your farm protects its wetland)
Those who intend to label and market their foods as organic will usually seek certification – almost certainly if they grow for the export market. However, many farmers practice organic techniques without seeking or receiving the premium price given to organic food in some markets.
This includes many traditional farming systems found in developing countries. Agriculture that meets organic production standards, but that is not subject to organic inspection, certification and labeling, is referred to as ‘organic by default’. While economic and institutional conditions differ, both certified organic agriculture and organic agriculture ‘by default’ rely on the same technology and principles. Although the results might be similar, organic agriculture ‘by default’ may not always represent a deliberate choice between alternative productions. Organic certification focuses on this part.
We may have a huge farm producing by default organic product. Organic certification will just convert it certified and added a huge value. Organic certification scheme varies from country to country regulators. The two sources of general principles and requirements governing organic production and trade are: Firstly, the ‘Basic Principles’ of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), a private sector international body, with some 750 member organizations in over 100 countries. IFOAM defines and regularly reviews, in consultation with its members, the Basic Standards that shape the organic term.
According to IFOAM basic standards ‘organic agriculture is a whole system approach based upon a set of processes resulting in a sustainable ecosystem, safe food, good nutrition, animal welfare and social justice. Organic production therefore is more than a system of production that includes or excludes certain inputs. ’ But in order to access the major organic markets in Europe and United States, one has to comply with specific regulations that are instituted in these countries. These are Regulation 834/07 in the case of Europe and the National Organic Programmed (NOP) in the case of United States.
Certification Bodies operating following above stated standards, need to take accreditation from an accreditation body under ISO/IEC Guide 65 for demonstration their competence. Bangladesh Accreditation Board (BAB) is ready to play its role in this regards. We expect our entrepreneurs to come forward with initiative for launching organic farming and organic certification body.