Organic farming focuses on utilizing natural materials in agriculture and prohibiting the use of the chemical fertilizers and pesticides which ultimately ruins the fertility of land. Initially, the heavy use of chemical fertilizers increases the production of the land but as time passes the production capacity of land decreases and finally may reach to zero.Organic farming helps to produce safe, nutritious and quality food products together with maintaining ecological balance and its sustainability.
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) defines the overarching goal of organic farming as: "Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved..."
Organic farming relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control. It uses fertilizers and pesticides but strictly excludes or limits the use of manufactured (synthetic) fertilizers, pesticides, plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, genetically modified organisms, human sewage sludge. Organic agriculture has become one of the priority areas for sustainable agriculture development worldwide due to concerns about the negative impacts of conventional agriculture.
Organic agriculture first appeared as one of the priority sectors in Nepalese agriculture since the 10th Five Year Plan (2059/060-2063/064). The national agriculture policy 2061 clearly states that the promotion of organic agriculture is only for export. The policy and program guided it from the promotion of business and much emphasis is given for earning more money rather than being concerned about own food and health. Therefore, the organic farming is limited in the only export oriented commodities such as apiculture, coffee, tea, large cardamom, ginger etc and in a certain group of farmers. During the fiscal year 2066/067, the government provided only 240 million of subsidies in organic manures and certification process of organic products.
Many farmers engaged in organic agriculture are not confident because some pests and diseases are very hard to control without chemical pesticides. Due to lack of standard guidelines from the government, there are not proper definitions and methods to make the farming practices organic. Local farmers knowingly or unknowingly practicing organic agriculture have invented various organic techniques but have not acknowledged these techniques as their contribution.
Because of the complicated certification process, marketing of organic products within our own country is more effective than competing with the international market. Due to the lack of accredited laboratory facilities, several cases of return of the certified organic products (honey) had been seen in the recent past.
Great possibility of organic farming exists because many places are are yet to be reached by modern technologies and chemical fertilizers. For example- Jumla has been already announced as the organic district by the government, as it remains distant from chemical fertilizer and pesticides till date. Many of the farmers in Nepal face problems that the organic products are not perfect in shape, size and color in comparison with products produced by the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. So they are fear about the consumer preference as they (consumer) prefer by evaluation with their eyes and organic products thus could have a hard time to compete in the market. The majority of consumers also do not seem to be concerned about the way of production and nutrient content of the product. They think that organic products are expensive and hence difficult to afford. At the village level the local seeds are completely replaced by the hybrid and imported varieties especially in cereals and vegetables.
It is believed that Nepalese farmers are more committed for the organic farming compared to other south Asian countries. Only few farmers are convinced that organic agriculture is possible and the organic pesticides and fertilizers can also contribute in better production as compared to the chemical inputs.
Research organizations like NARC, NARDF have not given the necessary priority on organic farming. There are limited and scattered researches going on in organic farming, which are not properly documented and at the same time the coverage of issues being nominally small.
According to Nepal Permaculture Group (NPG) in 2010, around 20 % of the total food produced was organic. But only 10,000 hectare of organic agriculture area has been certified till now. In Nepal, presently organic farming is in its infancy stage due to the lack of awareness amongst farmers, consumers, students, scholars, activists and policy maker. Even the government has not given priority to organic agriculture development in Nepal. In urban areas, the niche market for organic products are steadily increasing despite the fact that organic products are a bit expensive compared to conventional products. This is due to increasing awareness amongst the consumers about the benefits of organic product.
The relatively higher cost is mainly associated with the:
|i.||Compensation for the low crop yield during conversion period with an offer of 15-20 % extra price as premium price to the farmers,|
|ii.||Higher transportation cost while transporting into urban areas from far remote areas.|
|iii.||The cost of certification|
In Nepal, the Organic Certification Nepal (OCN) acts as a national certifier for organic products. Similarly the organization such as Nepal Permaculture Group (NPG), Organic World and Fair Future (OWF) are actively involved in the promotion and marketing of organic products.
In this regard, the government should cooperate with various agencies involved in organic agriculture and create public awareness about the importance of organic agriculture, formulate concrete planning and policy for the betterment of farmers to reduce poverty through organic agriculture, and establish organic agriculture resource centers all over the country. The planning must be focused on long term purpose about what commodities should be focused on and how the country should start converting the farm land into organic on a phase wise basis. It is also essential to find out which products should be based on domestic and international market.
Difficulties in organic agriculture in Nepal
|a.||Lack of organic inputs such as seeds, bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides.|
|b.||Lack of government initiatives, plan, policies and assistance.|
|c.||Lack of adequate information of different aspects such as advantages of organic farming and the organic products, crops and area on organic cultivation, technology, marketing, suppliers of input, etc.|
|d.||Organic farming is a labor intensive farming. So, in the urban areas where there is scarcity of labor, the cost of cultivation may be high.|
|e.||The misconception of the people that, "organic agriculture is not a feasible option to improve food security".|
|f.||Awareness: There is lack of awareness about the organic farming and the organic products amongst consumers and producers.|
Organic Vegetables Production
Trending Organic Products
In Nepal organic products like, vegetables, fruits, tea, coffee and other crops are grown. Some popular organic crops that are grown in Nepal are:
Peas, Soybean, Coriander, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Potatoes, Cucumber, Lady Finger, Brinjal, Bitter Gourd, Onion, Tomato, Carrot, Radish, Spinach, Green Salads, Leeks, Artichokes, Brussel Sprouts, Broccolis, Arugula
Strawberries, grapes, blackberries, apple, pear
Coffee, Tea, Ginger, Garlic, Honey, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Chilly, Pepper, Caraway, Fenugreek
Walnut, Pecan, Macadamia, Pine nut, Chest nut, Gingko nut
How to promote Organic farming?
|a.||The policy and program should emphasize the organic food rather than the market and the business oriented agricultural system.|
|b.||The cost of production is high and Nepalese farmers cannot compete with the international market. Hence Government must provide support to the organic farmers in order to minimize the cost of mass production. Subsidy must be provided based upon the volume of production in order to motivate the farmers for easy marketing of the products.|
|c.||Due to the lack of awareness, consumers are not convinced for the premium price of the organic product. Therefore farmers need to compete in the international market. Arrangement of the subsidy in price and insurance of the production is the biggest incentive for the farmers. There should be separate and interrelated networking of training, research and technology development, verification and extension of organic agriculture for its development.|
|d.||Organic certification is important for the exportable organic product but, small farmers cannot afford the additional costs as well as the time consuming certification process. There is a need of a packaged program so that a farmer can be self equipped and prepared for the process of certification.|
|e.||There are limited courses and activities on organic farming at school, universities and training institutions. As a result, extension services have usually faced problems of trained professionals on organic agriculture. Thus, incorporation of courses related to organic production is necessary in the education programs of primary and secondary school level, universities and training institutions for developing professionals in this field.|