‘Organic farming can help save world from global warming’
Ramaninder K Bhatia, TNN Sep 9, 2012, 12.00PM IST
VADODARA: Stanford University Scientists’ conclusion that there was no significant difference in the nutritional value of foods grown, either organically or through conventional farming methods, has quite naturally left the organic farmers fuming.
“I wonder how they (scientists) have arrived at this conclusion. They should check with the Organic Farming Magazine in the US, which is being published since 1946, and which has written that organic eggs are three times more nutritious,” president of Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI) Sarvadaman Patel says.”The biggest advantage that organic food has over conventional food is cited by Stanford scientists themselves – lack of pesticides. US has very strict quality control checks which keep the use of pesticides under control. But in India, chemicals are used indiscriminately,” says Patel, who holds a masters’ degree in agronomics from University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Here, we eat vegetables, which have been brought to market only a day or two after pesticide spray, although at least 45 days should be given for the effect of these dangerous chemicals to wear off the crops.”
“Forget every other benefit that organic has over conventional farming, can you discount the ‘taste’ factor? Everyone agrees that organic food tastes much better,” the 60-year-old, US-educated conventional-turned-organic farmer told TOI on the sidelines of a five-day green event called ‘Hariyali’. It is being organized by Jatan Trust and Faculty of Social Works, MSU, and the event began on Friday
“More significantly, organic could help save the world from global warming. It saves 40 per cent of water used in conventional farming and uses non-conventional energy sources,” says Patel, claiming that he did not have to use water pump for as long as 25 days when it did not rain at all this monsoon. “In summers, I don’t need to irrigate my farms for almost 30-35 days. Head of the department of civil engineering in MSU A S Patel says if every village of average 100 acre size could shift to organic, the water saved would take care of the village’s domestic needs for the next 20 years!
Patel, who is the grandson of renowned Bhailal Kaka, who set up Sardar Patel University in Anand, runs a 40-acre organic farm near Anand, which has been cited as a shining example of all that is good with organic farming by organic farming organizations across India. He shifted to organic farming after a pesticide spray rendered the cattle sick, while a farm hand developed severe trauma symptoms. “Luckily, there was no fatality, but I made up my mind to shift to organic.”
Expressing resentment over lack of incentives to organic farming in India, Patel said there was plenty of subsidies for urea or DAP for conventional farming, but none for organic farmers, who could bring down the cost by getting subsidized seeds etc. The criticism that organic farming did not produce volumes in a nation requiring food security, could be easily challenged, since Patel’s experiments over the last 12 years, since he turned organic, had yielded similar yields in 90 per cent of his crops as that of conventional crops.