*Why organic is the way ? Why organic products are more expensive than conventional products ?*
In 2002, an article in The Times of India reported that 500 farmers had died of pesticide exposure in Andhra Pradesh. When asked by members of Parliament about what steps it was taking to prevent these deaths, the central government said it was “promoting Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to reduce consumption of chemical pesticides”.
Under the Integrated Pest Management approach, farmers are advised to use natural methods of controlling pests first, such as pheromone traps that attract male moths, or planting marigolds along the border of fields to control nematodes. Chemical pesticides are the last resort, and to be used only at specific times in the cropping cycle to be effective. But Integrated Pest Management has had limited success in India.
The indiscriminate use of pesticides is largely to be blamed on the collapse of the government’s farm extension system, which is meant to advise farmers. Huge financial subsidy (70000+ Crore every year) to chemical fertilizer producing factories while no subsidy is given to individual farmers/groups who are producing organic manures/pesticides etc.
Private pesticide dealers have stepped into this vacuum, but they do not offer reliable advice since they often have to meet sales targets from companies. The effect is that farmers use more chemicals than required. Consumers pay for that in various ways. It is a cycle. The same companies come up with medicines for ailments caused by the chemicals. See the video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2n0UQ8ITKM
Year Total Subsidy on chemical fertilisers (Rs in crore)
On our finite planet, where natural resources are increasingly hard to come by, it’s important for producers to focus on doing more with less. Subsidies tend to reduce incentives for producers to boost efficiency and shift their focus from crops to farming subsidies. As a result, many end up doing less with more.
For example, India subsidises the cost of energy to pump water for agriculture, which encourages producers to pump more water than they need. This has made Indian producers among the world’s least efficient water users. Given that food and water are in short supply, a more effective way to run the system would be to support those who produce more food with less water.
This is where community assisted farming and start-ups like communityfarm.in are playing a crucial role. They reduce the gap between farmer and consumer, it ensures better pricing for the crops and protects them from market fluctuations. Helps him to find alternate ways to increase his revenue and most importantly they connect them with experts in the industry to provide better guidance.
Labour and farming inputs: Organic farming is labour intensive. The biofertilizers used are also very expensive. No subsidy by government on Organic fertilizers or Organic Pesticides. Cost of applying synthetic fertilizer and pesticide per acre per crop cycle is well within 2000/- Rs. Whereas organic manure, for eg: Cow dung, requirement per acre for organic farmers per crop cycle is between 30 tons to 45 tons or more. Cost per ton is around 1000/- to 1500/- Rs depending upon location. Their input cost per acre, for organic manure alone is in the range of 30000/- to 45000/- per crop cycle. Which is approximately 15 to 20 times the input cost of the conventional farmer. Organic pesticides and or other similar methods cost additional on top of this.
Crop Rotation: Instead of using chemical weed-killers, organic farmers conduct sophisticated crop rotations to keep their soil healthy and prevent weed growth. After harvesting a crop, an organic farmer may use that area to grow “cover crops,” which add nitrogen to the soil to benefit succeeding crops. Conventional farmers, on the other hand, can use every acre to grow the most profitable crops. Because crop rotation reduces the frequency in which organic farmers can grow profitable crops, they’re unable to produce the larger quantities that are most cost-effective for conventional farmers.
Consumers: On top of this we consumers reject their produce many times due to defects in shape, damages due to pest attacks etc. Many of us believe that we pay premium for organic produce hence it should look much better than conventional produce, but that is not correct, it may look worse.
All these adds up resulting higher prices for their produce. But it is important for us and our next generation that these farmers survive. Because they have taken extra pain to follow the organic path to serve us and our next generation better.