Introduction to organic farming in Assam: Organic farming is an eco-friendly farming system that follows the principles of health with the soil, the environment, including animals and humans. The products produced by organic farming are nutritious, safe, and free from chemical residues. On the other hand, chemical farming harms the land as well as animals and human health, and the ecosystem. Agriculture is the primary sector of the Assam state economy. The socio-economic condition of Assam mainly depends on its agriculture production. The Agriculture Department in Assam has decided to take various development measures to ensure an increase in crop production.
Assam is a major supplier of organic products to the world organic market and has tremendous potential to produce organic crops. There is a need for a clear strategy on organic farming and linking it to the markets. Although the government still spends very little on organic farming, severe agriculture receives massive subsidies to pollute the environment. It is the main opinion that the solution has been with us for a long time – go back to farming, real farming – organic farming. By working with nature, we can live healthier lives, improve our environment, revitalize rural areas by increasing employment, and produce the food we need at a better quality.
A guide to organic farming in Assam, organic farming schemes in Assam, getting organic certification in Assam, and organic crops grown in Assam
Advantages of organic farming
- Organic matter provides all the essential macro and micro plant nutrients.
- Organic matter improves the physicochemical and biological properties of soil.
- Recycling of organic matter is renewable and thus energy resources can be made available for organic production.
- Organic farming improves the agro ecosystem and helps prevent environmental degradation.
- Organic crops are the most preferred because they are thought to be more nutritious than conventional crops.
- Organic products are highly valued in the national and international markets.
Crops are grown under organic farming in Assam
Organic farming is one of the ways to maintain and improve soil fertility. The rate of production will be the same and will remain the same for a long time due to good soil health. In this way, it will help farmers to double their production after a proper cropping system. Organic production, if certified, will be in good demand in the market with premium prices as compared to common commodities, which will give extra profit to the producer farmers. Organic farming usually requires a transition period of three years to obtain a certificate so that the production system, if any, is free of chemical residues. There are two types of certification systems followed in organic farming – 1. Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) and 2. Third-Party Certification System. In this process, organic farming has emerged as a viable alternative to solving the problems that have arisen since the effects of chemical-rich agriculture since the 1960s. The scientific validity and feasibility of organic farming, especially in developing countries – often polarizes between genetic engineering and organic farming solutions.
With organic products gaining worldwide popularity in the wake of humanity’s devastating experiments with chemical farming, Assam is preparing itself for the next phase of the “organic farming” green revolution. The land of monsoons and evergreen forests is rediscovering its ancient farming methods with many nations committed to socially responsible, environmentally friendly, and economically self-sustaining development. Although Assam and the Northeast are mostly organic, out of 4.3 million hectares of net cultivated area, approximately 30.92 million hectares have never seen the use of chemical or inorganic fertilizers – conscious organic farming has suddenly picked up across Assam, especially among Ginger, Turmeric, Orange, Pepper, and Pineapple growers. Farmers living in the pockets of mountain ranges, free from pollution and away from the dangers of modernity, farmers are now searching for the ancient secrets of sustainable farming. They are rediscovering the benefits of traditional and comprehensive farming that maintains soil health and biodiversity. The potential for organic farming in Assam is high. The very low consumption of fertilizers in the region suggests that Assam is “naturally organic”. Farmers in these areas often use organic fertilizers through nutrients that are readily available on their farms or in their areas.
Food crops grown in Assam include Jute, Tea, Pulses, Coconut, Sugarcane, Fruits, Potatoes, Cotton, and Areca nuts. More than 50% of the total population of the state is engaged in agricultural activities in Assam. Assam’s agriculture is now focusing on the horticultural part of the state.
In case if you miss this: How To Start Poultry Farming In South Africa.
Agriculture plays an important role in generating revenue in the economy of Assam. The state of Assam receives a lot of rainfall and has fertile land which is very beneficial for crop cultivation. Due to this, Assam’s agriculture is flourishing in food crops and staples. Rice is an important food crop in Assam’s agriculture as it is also an important food in the state. Those who are engaged in Assam’s agriculture department focus on rice cultivation as it is one of their main priorities.
How about this: How To Prepare Soil For Agricultural Crops.
Organic vegetables in Assam – The other half of Assam’s agriculture is covered by vegetables. Although they never or seldom use artificial techniques in the production of various crops, the production here is so high that it increases their ability to export to other Indian states. Apart from importing a few vegetables like Onions and Potatoes, Assam grows all its crops. Some examples of summer and winter high yielding vegetable crops are;
Summer vegetables are Ladyfinger, Cucumber, Snake Gourd, Squash, and Long Beans, etc.
Seasonal winter vegetables are Indian Mustard, Spinach, Coriander, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Onion, Capsicum, Mushrooms, Cherry Tomatoes, and Carrots, etc.
The major cereal crop in Assam is Rice (Oryza sativa).
Some horticultural crops are Vegetables, Okra, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrot, and Tomato.
Spices are Bhut Jolokia, Chilli, Ginger, Turmeric, Fruit crops, Banana, Pineapple, and Assam Lemon.
Organic agricultural practices in Assam
Organic farming is a unique production management system that promotes and enhances the health of the agro-ecosystem and the biological activity of the soil, and all these off-farm inputs, excluding artificial off-farm inputs. This is accomplished using biological and mechanical methods. In an initiative to encourage organic farming, the Assam government will set up 100 organic markets for the sale of organic products.
Organic farming is a system of production that relies on aspects such as animal manure, organic waste, crop rotation, beans, and biological pest control. In this way, it enables the soil to provide the crop with all the nutrients it needs for its proper growth and development.
The goal of organic farming is to maintain and increase productivity by improving soil health and improving the agricultural system as a whole. The production of organic crops in the organic farming system is slowly gaining momentum all over the world. Organic crop production is not only a holistic approach to the production system that provides standard “organic food”, but also helps restore soil fertility on a long-term basis. It is a relatively autonomous system of production compared to conventional agriculture, which relies heavily on synthetic inputs, i.e., fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides, herbicides, growth regulators, etc. Crops yield rises again once management systems get established.
Soil and crop management in organic farming in Assam
The organic farming system encourages mixed/intercropping, crop rotation, and the use of fertilizers to maintain soil fertility. Growing the same crop year after year destroys the fertility of the soil. Furthermore, growing the same crop in the same field invites the attack of certain pests and diseases. Mixed / intercrops benefit in many ways when cereals/millets are mixed / intercrop with beans as the lumps in the fruit roots fix nitrogen in the environment and increase soil fertility. This not only stabilizes production but also gives higher economic returns.
Under such crop management, all the energy generated from sunlight is fully utilized by the plants through proper crop management. Rainfall is also carefully conserved. A large portion is obtained in the surface soil and the excess is slowly absorbed into the subsoil. Three-tier crops, crop intensity in time and space dimensions are ideal for sharing sunlight, nutrients, and water levels. Intercropping/crop rotation profile also helps in better utilization of moisture, extraction of nutrients from different soil layers, and efficient use of agriculture. Many of the benefits of crop rotation include increased nitrogen supply, improved soil, water, and nutrient availability, as well as improved soil microbial activity and weed control. They added that maize production has increased by 10-20% during the two-year rotation with soybeans as compared to maize monoculture. The introduction of legumes in crop rotation helps to increase soil fertility.
Alley cropping is also a way to maintain soil productivity. Although organic manure makes up a small portion of the mineral soil, it plays an important role in soil fertility and conditioning. It serves as food for soil bacteria and fungi, which are responsible for converting complex organic minerals into simple substances that are easily used by plants. Intermediate decomposition products of fresh organic matter help to improve the physical condition of the soil. Minimal tillage is adopted to save the earth’s organic matter and biological life.
Policies on soil management for organic farming in Assam
Natural soils are often referred to as living because they contain microbial mass that is essential for crop growth, health, and sustainability. Although Assam follows a large-scale organic production system, the state is moving towards exploitative agriculture, especially in the growing commercial pockets and tea gardens. The silver lining is that the ill effects of exploitative farming are now being felt in general and soil health has become a priority and a government issue of cultivating organic concepts in the trade line.
Considering chemical farming to be a major health hazard to consumers, contaminated soil, water, micro-climate, and climate-affecting humans, farm animals, fish, and derived products. Thus, proper replenishment of soil and improvement of soil productivity and its maintenance is essential for the state.
1. To ensure the application of fertilizer based on need, basic consideration will be given to issuing soil health card to farmers and updating it from time to time so that the usual blanket use of fertilizers can be eliminated. The whole exercise will be computer-based and easily accessible to farmers through the web or net.
2. All roads leading to the organic farming system will be concentrated at the ground level and will be an integral part of any production drive under national and state schemes.
3. Soil loss due to heavy rains and floods is an issue. Such losses will be prevented by spreading contamination and promoting plant intensity, crop density, and forage cultivation thorough plant coverage.
3. Similarly erosion of riverine soil which is another major problem will be tested both through erosion checking crops like broom grass, Vetiver, and resorting to engineering technologies developed for controlling soil erosion. Convergence with the soil conservation department on such issues will be explored.
6. In heavy silted soils, barren soils, the use of ‘soil conditioner’ crops such as Guatemala will be explored to restore soil health.
In keeping with the national policy of making the Northeast an organic hub for the country, it is proposed to launch the ‘Assam Organic Mission’ for a mission mode approach to organic farming practices. To focus on organic farming in all sectors of agriculture including livestock, fish, etc., to build capacity for new generation farmers, to provide a comprehensive platform for agro-industrialists and foreign buyers, to promote organic farming. This includes processing, packaging, bio-packaging, etc., and to ensure regular flow of bio-inputs in the field, either establish a separate directorate of organic farming or establish a state-of-the-art Institute of Organic Farming with required infrastructure and manpower.
Information about organic farming in Assam
Assam is adopting large-scale organic farming with the help of the central government. In a landmark move, two companies have recently been launched to promote organic farming in the hilly Karbi Anglong district of Assam. The main purpose of the companies is to make the tribal people belonging to the Karbi tribe realize better returns from their land.
Assam makes rapid changes to organic farming practices, environmental degradation, and health costs arising from agriculture in terms of the costs can rise sharply. Organic farming is therefore a welcome alternative from three angles, namely saving financial draining for small farmers, helping to improve eco-friendly and soil fertility, and facilitating the government is gradually reducing fertilizer subsidies. Will Sustainable environmental development in the production capacity and profitability of the organic production system will help generate both livelihood and income. Whatever the reasons, it appears to be a welcome step that will help farmers reduce the cost of pesticides and chemicals and increase their income from those lands. However, there are some obstacles to overcome. The government needs to do a study first to make sure that the best farmers can change the organic mode with today’s farming methods as this change will make no difference in farming activities should be done.
The government also needs to indicate which crop will be more suitable for which area of the state. Keeping in view the information needs of the farming community, the government should also train its personnel, without which the right knowledge will not be available to the needy. More importantly, the government needs to develop a mechanism for marketing organic products. This would be a dangerous proposition if farmers and especially backward farmers do not have reliable means to sell their produce without government support. Furthermore, the government can perform well if product certification and branding can be recognized as a real organic product from Assam.
Nutrient management for organic farming in Assam
- Nutrition management should be achieved through recycling of organic matter, enrichment of compost, vermicompost, animal manure, urine, farmyard manure, litter composting, use of botanicals, and green manure, etc., used to maintain soil fertility.
- Use biofertilizers like Azolla, Isosprelium, Isotobacter, Rhizobium culture, PSB, etc.
- With the approval of the Certification Agency (CA), blood-feeding, bone feeding, and human excretion can be applied.
- Various sprays such as vermi wash and liquid fertilizer can be used to grow soil and plants in crops.
Schemes being implemented for organic farming in Assam
Most of the areas of Assam are considered organic by default due to less or no use of fertilizers and chemicals in the production process as compared to other developing states. These areas can be easily converted to organic farming for the production of various horticultural crops. On the other hand, it becomes difficult to change the minds of farmers to adopt a fully organic method in the pockets of commercial production.
There are currently three Central Sector Organic Schemes being implemented in the State.
1. Paramparagat Krishi Vikash Yojana (PKVY)
Its main purpose is to increase soil fertility and thus help in the production of healthy food through organic methods without the use of agrochemicals. The Agriculture Department has prepared a roadmap for the Prampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) scheme. Under the guidelines, farmers will be organized into a cluster to encourage them to adopt organic farming.
The certification of the Partnership Guarantee Scheme (PGS) empowers farmers in clusters to verify the production process and access the organic market. A separate web portal has also been developed for PGS certification. Initially, this scheme has been implemented in 10 numbers of districts (Karbi Anglong, Nagaon, Kamrup, Goalpara, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Darrang, Sonitpur, Udalguri, and Morigaon). A total of 220 clusters have been formed in the selected districts. The total number of farmers is 6913 with a total area of 10935 acres (4428.675 hectares).
Criteria for selection of PKVY area;
- Small and backward farmers should be encouraged.
- The low area of fertilizer application.
- Rain-fed area of the state.
- Crops with low fertilizer demand should be considered in the first year.
- Areas of the state where farmers practice conventional agriculture.
2. Rashtriya Krishi Vikash Yojana for Organic farming
Some areas like Guwahati, Jorhat, Tezpur, and Dibrugarh in Assam will be a boon for developing local organic markets in the success of the RKVY scheme. Organic products like joha/kale rice, vegetables, and spices will be exported as well as gain the domestic market and this will drive the farmers to higher prices which will lead to higher income.
3. Mission Organic Value Chain Development (MOVCD) in Assam
Because of the prevailing fertile soil and favorable climatic conditions in the Northeast region, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the Mission has launched a central sector scheme called Organic Value Chain Development. The main purpose of this scheme is to ensure safe and healthy food is on everyone’s plate. The growing demands of population, industrialization, and globalization have made organic farming a major need in the country. The growing demand in this sector is likely to focus on the northeastern region for organic farming. The Northeast region, traditionally an organic hub, has tremendous potential for organic farming development because of its mostly rainfed and mountainous areas, the presence of mighty rivers Brahmaputra and Barak, and mountainous areas, etc., can promote organic farming with the help of these legacies the region.
Focusing on support for development throughout the region, the “Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER)” scheme is being implemented in Assam with the following objectives.
Objectives of the Scheme are;
To overcome the specific organic value chain and gaps in the production of organic crops, harvesting of wild crops, management of organic livestock and processing, handling and marketing of organic agricultural products through;
1) With the necessary infrastructure, technical and financial support, develop crop-specific organic production clusters.
2) Facilitating partnerships between farmers and organic businesses: Local businesses and/or farmer-producing companies based on back-to-back long-term business relationships with clients in the domestic and export markets.
3) By providing a conducive environment for project initiatives and development programs with the necessary cooperation for the development of the organic value chain and market access.
4) Transforming the traditional farming/employment farming system into a local resource-based, self-sustaining, high-value commercial organic enterprise.
5) Development of organic parks/zones that require investment technology with facilities for collection, aggregation, value addition, processing, storage, and linking to specific items.
The Assam government is working to achieve the objectives of Mission Organic Value Chain Development for the North Eastern Region scheme. It seeks continuous support from the Center, awareness, and participation of every citizen for organic production, awareness among organic farmers, capacity building and training on organic farming, research, and development. Citizens need to be made aware of the use of organic food. So that the organic concept grows and continues as long as possible.
The organic market in Guwahati
GUWAHATI – Assam has set up a special organic market for organically grown foodstuffs, to encourage organic farming in the state. An organic market in Guwahati where organic produce will be sold. The Assam Agricultural Marketing Board has constructed this market at a cost of about Rs. 7.65 crore.
The government is planning an agrarian revolution in the state to increase agricultural production and farmers’ income. Organic farming will increase the fertility of the state’s agricultural land and organic food will boost the growth of the state’s economy as the demand for organic food was increasing rapidly. The government is pushing for organic farming of fruits, vegetables, and other commodities as part of its initiative to boost the state’s agricultural development.
How to apply for organic certification in Assam
It is defined as a certification process for natural products and is identified in the markets as organic certified products. As a whole, organic works must be told that they are conserving natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances. The main purpose of using all these methods is to protect the environment, improve biodiversity, minimize soil degradation and promote a healthy environment.
The organic farming certification is “organic” and is an important part of organic farming. Some guidelines must be followed to obtain organic certification. To obtain organic certification, synthetic chemical inputs such as fertilizers, food additives, pesticides, antibiotics, and genetically modified seeds should be avoided. Certified organic producers go without any risk because they have certified organic products.
Steps for Organic Certification;
- Submit Application
- Cost estimate
- Invoicing and payment of fees
- Signing the Inspection Agreement
- Submission of inspection and inspection report to the Certification Department
- Issuance of the certification decision
- Compliance with the certification decision and issuance of the certificate
- Issue of Transaction Certificates or Inspection Certificate
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