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Advances in Agronomy
Volume 170, 2021, Pages 101-153

Organic farming: A prospect for food, environment and livelihood security in Indian agriculture

Madhab Chandra Mannaa, Close Mohammad Mahmudur Rahmanb, etl.,

ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, India.


Organic farming is an environmentally, economically and socially accepted way to produce food. This review scrutinizes various facets of the practice including its impact on the environment, international markets, and local as well as global food security. First-hand knowledge throughout India and the world was evaluated the various strategies and policies implemented for organic agriculture in India. Scenarios depicted here represent millions of people from all social and economic backgrounds who have embraced this agrarian method ensuring the integrity of food. Since organic farming depends on animal manures, off-farm organic wastes, crop residues, green manures, and bio-fertilizers, the question arises whether the availability of these organic feed materials is sufficient to support widespread organic farming in India. In total, these sources could supply 7.04 Mt. of primary nutrients in India, while in the long-term, organic farming could contribute to food security by harmonizing population growth, food grain production, fertilizer consumption, and prevent or minimize soil nutrient depletion. Municipal solid waste compost and sewage water are being increasingly employed in organic agriculture and very large amounts of organic residues and pollutants are added to the soil. Given this, the prospects of organic agriculture to help solve environmental problems need to be researched in more detail. Soil C (carbon) sequestration by municipal solid waste compost and sewage water may to some extent stop environmental degradation. Primarily, organic farming could boost the quality of food by enhancing protein, vitamins, minerals, etc. Soil health and ecological functions such as biomass production, biodiversity maintenance, environmental protection, etc., which occur in organic farming could also be maintained or improved. In this way, it is possible for climatic aberrations could be mitigated or alleviated. However, policies should be developed for proper utilization of bio-waste, integrated farming approaches with organics, prioritizing areas and different kinds of organic farming, better pest management involving bio-pesticides, strengthening the domestic market for organic produce, farmer-to-farmer communication, etc. Our assessment found that organic farming has huge potential for contributing to food security, risk mitigation, etc., in India. Organic farming could also address many of the sustainable development goals directly, namely 3, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. However, future research should address areas like: (a) C sequestration and critical C input for organic farming; (b) dynamics, biology and biochemistry of nutrient cycles; (c) impact of the exposure of organic farming to contaminants; and (d) producing higher quality food crops.

Keywords: Organic farming, Crop residues, Municipal solid waste, Food security, Environmental sustainability.

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