Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on crop rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and control pests, excluding or strictly limiting the use of synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, plant growth regulators, livestock feed additives, and genetically modified organisms.
Since 1990 the market for organic products has grown at a rapid pace, averaging 20-25 percent per year to reach $33 billion in 2005. This demand has driven a similar increase in organically managed farmland. Approximately 30.6 million hectares worldwide are now farmed organically, representing approximately 2% of total world farmland. In addition, as of 2005 organic wild products are farmed on approximately 62 million hectares.
Some Benefits of Organic Farming
- Organic farms can support substantially higher levels of wildlife especially in lowlands and where animals can roam pastures or graze on grassland. Not only does wildlife benefit, but entire ecosystems and ground water are improved by simply following organic farming methods.
- Researchers in the United States have found that by following organic farming methods, conventional farmer’s can actually reduce production cost by over 25%. This is accomplished by eliminating the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, minimizing soil erosion by up to 50% and increasing crop yields up to five-fold within five years.
- Organic farming promotes soils that are teaming with life and rich in micro nutrients which can be used for decades to grow crops virtually year round in many parts of the world.
- Organically grown products are free from harmful chemicals, artificial flavors and preservatives that ultimately cost consumers money when they purchase non-organically grown products. You can always taste the difference between organically grown and conventionally grown products.
- Consumers purchasing organically grown foods can taste the difference and see the quality of virtually any organic product they buy. Regardless of minimal price differences, consumers can smell, taste and see the difference in the quality of organically grown food products.
- Eating organic foods may in fact, reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cancer for individuals who abstain from consuming products produced by conventional farming methods. Biochemist are continually researching the inherent benefits of organically grown foods and discovering the consequences consuming products loaded with toxins and chemicals which, until recently, have only begun to be introduced to humans. The fact is, you ultimately are what you eat.
Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP) Standards for Organic Agriculture and Processing
Organic agriculture and processing is based on a number of principles and ideas, which are all equally important. These are:
- To produce food of high nutritional quality in sufficient quantity;
- To interact in a constructive and life-enhancing way with natural systems and cycles;
- To encourage and enhance biological cycles within the farming system, involving micro organisms, soil flora and fauna, plants and animals;
- To promote the healthy use and proper care of water, water resources and all life therein;
- To enhance the conservation of soil and water, improve soil quality and increase soil fertility;
- To use organic matter and nutrient elements, as far as possible, within a closed system;
- To work, as far as possible, with materials and substances which can be reused or recycled, either on the farm or elsewhere;
- To give all livestock (including poultry, fishes, bees and other farm animals) conditions of life which allow them to perform the basic aspects of their innate behavior;
- To maintain the genetic diversity of the agricultural system and its surroundings, including the protection of plant and wildlife habitats;
- To minimize all forms of pollution that may result from farming practices and progress towards an entire production chain that is ecologically sound, economically rewarding and socially just;
- To allow everyone involved in organic production and processing a quality of life conforming to the UN Human Rights Charter, to cover their basic needs and obtain an adequate return and satisfaction from their work, including a safe working environment; and,
- To foster indigenous and ecological production systems that can produce adequate, safe and nutritious food for local communities.
The Bases of Organic Agriculture and Processing
To achieve its aims, the organic agriculture movement follows certain techniques and practices that promote sound environment and respect natural ecological balances. In doing so, it avoids products and methods, which are contrary to its principles.
The basis of crop production in gardening, farming, orchard growing, and agroforestry is the maintenance of desirable soil quality, build up of balanced soil fertility, and the promotion of biodiversity and sound ecosystem. This is achieved by appropriate combinations of:
- versatile crop production
- recycling of organic residues with inclusion of symbiotic N-fixing plants (legumes and azolla) and other forms of nutrient-plant symbiosis that help to avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers.
- wide ranges of methods for the control of pests, diseases and weeds, which avoid the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, molluscicides.
The basis for animal husbandry is the respect for the physiological and ecological needs of the animals. This is achieved by:
- providing sufficient amount of good quality fodder
- providing shed systems and allowing sufficient run according to their behavioral needs proper animal health care by preventive measures, management practices and veterinary treatment based on natural medicine if suitable
Animals are an important part of organic farming systems because:
- they contribute to closing the nutrient cycles by providing manure
- animals can convert organic matter which can not be used by humans, thus allowing to utilize land which cannot otherwise be used
- growing forage crops improves the crop rotations, the diversification and balance of the farming system
- they are used for draft purposes;
- they can utilize by-products from agricultural production
- they can contribute to higher yields.
For more information, contact:
Organic Certification Center of the Philippines
78 B. Dr. Lazcano Street
Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City
Tel./Fax No. (0632) 374-8214
Cell. No. (0920) 213-9979
Email: [email protected]
source: wikipedia.com, yelmworms.com, occpphils.org, photo from freedigitalphotos.net