Organic Farming for Sustainable Development:
There is a growing interest in organic farming both from the producers and consumers. The intensive farming techniques assisted with chemical fertilizers and insecticides, and pesticides have indeed allowed increased crop production exponentially and met the ever-increasing demand.
However, it has also turned the lands barren and the waters polluted. Moreover, the health risks associated with crops guzzling down synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are becoming more apparent each passing day. There is an immediate need of finding a solution to the mounting challenges of modern-day farming, and organic farming seems to be the solution.
Apparently, it seems that global agriculture has come to a crossroads, and organic farming is reaching its heyday. But what is organic farming? Does it really lead to sustainable development and promote a balance between nature and humans? Let’s delve down a little deeper and find the answers!
Understanding The Basics of Organic Farming
Organic Farming is just the opposite of what traditional farming is. It shuns everything synthetic and toxic and involves everything natural and organic. The inherent principle is to produce without compromising the ecology and the balance of nature.
Organic farming aims to feed the population while limiting any harmful impact on the environment. Organic farming improves soil quality, boosts air and water quality, and protects biodiversity by restricting the chemicals and respecting the ecology and natural balance. So, besides producing toxin-free crops, Organic farming also aims to protect the environment.
Does Organic Farming Lead to Sustainable Development?
The growing interest in organic farming certainly begs the question about its ultimate aim. To what end does organic farming lead, and how effective it is? One promising answer that most advocates of organic farming give is sustainable development. But again, what is sustainable development, and does organic farming really lead to sustainable development?
There is no denying that human activities have devastated the natural balance of the entire planet. Researchers have demonstrated that no human progress is worthwhile without the sustainability and natural balance of the planet, its environment, its land and water bodies, and its flora and fauna. That’s where the concept of sustainable development arises.
The Brundtland report of 1987, also known as the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development of the United Nations, defines Sustainable Development as economic development of the present without compromising the quality of the environment and the resources for future generations. The main objective is ecological, social, and economic development in sync with the planet’s natural balance.
Where Does Agriculture Come From All This?
Agricultural activities directly impact the environment. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there is a direct link between agriculture and climate change.
The United Nations also agrees with the report. It clearly states that unsustainable and intensive agricultural techniques amount to 69% of water withdrawal. Meanwhile, chemical backed farming also leads to land degradation, a decline in soil fertility, and degradation of the marine environment. It’s apparent that current agricultural methods pose a direct threat to the health of the planet and the people.
Therefore, unless we do not correct our agricultural practices, there is no sustainable development. Organic farmers, on the other hand, do not practice any technique that is corrosive to nature. Devoid of all the harmful agrochemicals and maintaining harmony with nature, organic farming provides a viable solution and leads to sustainable development.
How Does Organic Farming Lead to Sustainable Development?
Organic farming practices offer the most viable solution to restoring the ecosystem, promoting biodiversity, healing the environment, and building resilient communities.
If regenerative organic farming offers such promising prospects, it is because the inherent idea directly resonates with sustainable development.
Apparently, organic farming goes beyond the sustainability of just the present. Regeneration is its core value; therefore, instead of focusing on maintaining the current balance, organic farming aims to regenerate the balance between all connected bodies like soil, water, and air continuously for years to come.
Let’s dig more to understand better how organic farming leads to sustainable development;
Organic Farming is Booster Tonic for Climate
An important note from the General Commission for Sustainable Development reads that – farming activities contribute to half the overall greenhouse gas production. While traditional agricultural practice enhances greenhouse gas production, organic farming cuts it; here is how:
By cutting the use of synthetic fertilizer, it lowers the overall demand and, therefore, the production process, leading to a direct reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide.
Leguminous plant growing allows the natural fixation of nitrogen in the soil. This leads to a lower release of nitrous oxide, a harmful by-product of farming.
Extended crop rotations, free-range breeding, protecting trees and hedges, and maintaining the grass strip lower carbon and methane release in the atmosphere.
Organic Farming Prevents Water and Land Degradation
One major challenge that traditional farming poses is its negative impact on the soil and water bodies. On the other hand, organic farming not only boosts the quality of soil and land but also preserves it for a longer duration.
Banning pesticides and chemical fertilizers has a direct impact on the quality of land and water. The absence of harmful chemicals preserves the ecological environment and, therefore, the quality.
The practice of crop rotation, and bio-fertilizers boost soil fertility. It also balances the nitrogen content in the soil and limits its passage to water in the form of nitrates.
Organic fertilizers prevent nitrogen leaching, thus improving yields and maintaining soil quality for a more extended period.
Organic Farming Preserves Biodiversity
A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and another report from the UN, ‘Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, ‘ greatly emphasizes the importance of biodiversity for food and agriculture and the grave concern it has about the shrinking biodiversity. It also highlights the importance of organic Farming in preserving biodiversity.
Organic farming, with its nature-friendly practices, preserves the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Preservation of land and water, practice, long crop rotation, and maintaining grass strips provides continuous food resources to the connected flora and fauna and thus promote biodiversity.
Using organic fertilizers and cutting chemical-based products significantly improves the biodiversity of the land and water.
Economic Impact of Organic Farming
Sustainability cannot overlook the economic impact of any activity. Organic farming had to have a positive economic impact to be truly sustainable. After all, we have to feed billions of mouths. But numerous studies suggest the positive economic viability of organic farming in feeding the world’s growing population.
A report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the organic farming organization, assessed the economic impact and found that organic farming could indeed meet the world’s food requirements while at the same time meeting various sustainability goals. Another study published in ‘The Guardian’ concluded the same result and pointed out that organic farming proves to be more profitable in the long run.
Health Impact of Organic Farming
Positive health benefits of organic farming are numerous;
Organic farming fosters healthy ecosystems by cutting synthetic agro products, thereby enhancing overall health. Crops produced through organic farming are more nutritious and freer from toxins, posing no health hazards.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) has estimated that 61% of the labor force resides in rural areas and are involved in agricultural activities. They are forced into unsuitable working conditions ridden with toxic chemicals. Organic farming totally removes such conditions and health hazards.
Healthy food can only come from healthy agriculture. Currently, organic farming is the only technique that ensures toxin-free food production. The World Health Organization (WHO) also stressed that “highly hazardous pesticides can have acute and/or chronic toxic effects, and pose a particular risk to children.”
Sustainable Development is the only solution to save our planet from the lasting damage of corrosive human activities, and organic farming is the key to sustainable development. It’s about preserving the present and securing the future, and it starts with how we produce our food.
The social, economic, and health benefits are far-reaching and therefore deserve to be considered seriously. It’s high time that we shun the harmful practices and adopt more harmonious and balancing ways to heal our environment and leave a better place for the generations to come.