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Organic farming – need of socially & ecolo gically sensitive FAIR research

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  • arunk sharma
    Dear sir/madam, I am sending copy of my letter to ISOFAR for your kind perusal and comments. Sincerely Arun.K.Sharma Jodhpur Organic farming – need of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 20, 2006
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      Dear sir/madam,

      I am sending copy of my letter to ISOFAR for your kind perusal and




      Organic farming – need of socially & ecologically sensitive FAIR research

      ON the occasion of

      anniversary of ISOFAR ,June 20th


      Arun K.Sharma,

      CAZRI, Jodhpur, INDIA

      I remember the foundation ceremony of ISOFAR the June 20,2003. I also felt proud
      to be a founder member. Then certainly ISOFAR has done many achievement
      ,organized world conference and many other aspects for which I may be ignorant
      and would like to know the progress for myself as well as research community in
      India in particular. In case a step yet to be taken please do that in the
      foundation stage before the building starts.

      Some of these aspects are –


      1. Organic farming is a paradigm shift of concept, philosophy, principals
      (recently made by IFOAM). Similar things should be made as basics of organic
      farming research. Just to initiate this aspect I briefly emphasized the need of
      organic mentality during the foundation ceremony. We can add ethics for organic
      farming research, which is socially, as well as ecologically fair research
      (like fair trade, a basic principal of organic farming).

      2. Global warming and Ozone depletion are the two examples, which strongly show
      that we cannot live in isolation, every activity of individual/group affects
      the globe. While organic farming is based on harmony with nature, native and
      neighbour, similar principals and practices can be followed while doing
      research. The research need to be welfare oriented for world and not for the
      benefit of a particular region or group of people.

      3. Nobody or no place is complete or developed . Everybody is developing and
      incomplete. Developed means all the progress has been completed.

      Tempe rates fruits can not be grown easily in tropical regions and vice versa
      e.g tropical spices. Already nature ahs done classification like
      temperate/tropical, plane/mountain, drylands/wetland. Let us move ahead with
      natural classification and not with the man made /political classification for
      programmes on organic farming .

      4. Quality of research : Let the ISOFAR decide the definition of quality
      research i.e. beautifully documented ( an art) or having real and practical
      use. Some of the research papers are written very well but not able to reach in
      field. Further research need to be categories specially n case of organic
      farming. These are descriptive, prescriptive and predictive.

      5. Water : will be the most limiting factor for farming in future. Fortunately
      organic farming is the best way for efficient utilization of water. Therefore
      in every research programme of organic farming study on efficient utilization
      of water should be imperative . Also to the policy makers this fact need to be
      conveyed at every plateform.


      There is urgent need of research methodology standardization, ethics,
      orientation, data interpretation etc. based on principals of organic farming .
      Some of the areas/issues on which consensus is required are-

      1. Soil fertility assessment : In the chemical farming ,lots of chemicals are
      used for estimation of 16 essential elements. Organic farming is a holistic
      approach, also not allowed to use synthetic chemicals therefore need is to
      assess soil fertility by biological tools e.g. microbes, or soil physical
      parameters or by total productivity of various components like crops ,trees,
      microbes, animals etc. ISOFAR is to show the standard methodology.

      2. System research : Methodology need to develop for system research and the
      studies conducted in isolation like “effect of Tricoderma spp. on disease
      control in ground nut may be consider basic research .While doing organic
      research there should be integration of all practices cultural, biological,
      agronomical etc. and only those papers may be consider for publication under
      organic farming which are having at least Three years data of a system.

      3. Use of statistics: Statistics is very good for interpretation of results
      in irrigated and for study of limited components BUT in case of organic farming
      it need further refinement of statistical methods for information to be
      practically useful.

      4. One sensitive issue is the introduction of non-native species as
      biofertiliser or biopesticide just for commercial interest. One example is use
      of exotic species for making vermicomposting. I found that in India, only
      because of commercial interest, one exotic species of earthworm Eisina fotida
      is being used at most of the places, ignoring the efficient local species. How
      long such practices will be able to maintain eco-balance or sustainability and
      the biodiversity? IN the earlier research it has been found that efficient
      strains of native fauna/flora is beneficial as well as non disturbing to
      eco-balance. Therefore need is to show concern and guide the policy makers with
      logics through this international forum (ISOFAR).

      5. Organic farming is based on input optimization .The question is need to be
      answered by the organic farming research that how much and how long external
      biofertilisers and biopesticides are needed ? If it is recommended forever, in
      ling term all the evils of chemical farming may come in organic system. In an
      Indian proverb it can be called that come out from well and sink in pond.
      Therefore research is needed for careful recommendations.

      6. Another related question is whether the research in organic farming should be
      location specific or generalized just to promote some biofertilisers and

      7. Based on the principal of biodiversity conservation is there relevance
      /priority to promote local crops and local breed of animals or just grow/allow
      an species having export demand.

      8. Although use of human excreta is not permissible in organic farming . On the
      other side this is one of the richest source of nutrient. One research priority
      should be utilize this treasure going in sewer.

      9. Although organic farming is called sustainable BUT there should be scientific
      basis of sustainability .Need is to find out measurable indicators for
      assessment of sustainability of organic farming.

      10. Although this is to be decide by the society whether the organic rearing
      of animals for exclusively meet purpose is baised on principals of organic
      farming BUT scientifically unbiased study is needed to assess this practice in
      terms of energy use, health problems, environmental problems etc.

      11. I came to know that many of the organic farms are consuming energy
      lavishly, just to grow off season crops/high value crops. Research is needed to
      develop energy efficient organic systems.

      12. Traditions are most of the time ignored whenever modern science is discussed
      BUT in organic farming most of the so called default organic( more appropriate
      is designed organic) is based on time tested sustainable technologies. Equal
      opportunities/encouragement need to given for revalidation and improvement in
      the traditional organic farming.

      13. Research for certification : Procedure for certification is yet to be
      standardized. Most of countries as well as certification agencies follows
      different procedures/ methods for certification that need to be rationalized by
      research .Period of conversion, social behavior, neighbor’s effect, residual
      effect are some of the line of research.

      14. Last but not least ISOFAR need to develop database, based on research and
      on the basis of that database counter reply of two mis-arguments of the
      chemical farming supporters can be given. These mis-arguments are-

      (i) Sufficient organic inputs are not available to convert all the farming into

      (ii) Organic farming is not able to feed the world.

      In case ISOFAR has done work on these aspects ,kindly let me know. I request
      kindly publish fully or partly this message in the ISOFAR newletter.

      With best wishes and Happy Anniversary.


      Arun K.Sharma

      Sr.Scientist, Agronomy



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