ORGANIC FARMING IN PAKISTANOrganic Framing refers to the production of crops, fruits, vegetables and other farm products by using organic farm inputs and avoiding external chemical base inputs. Organic farm production techniques are sustainable in their impact on the ecosystem. Crops, fruits, vegetables and dairy products that are produced under organic farming are safe and healthy to eat.Organic foods are rich in taste and more nutritious and free from harmful chemicals. In countries like Japan, fruits and vegetables produced from ShizenNogyo (Natural Agriculture) are used to cure the various types of skin and other diseases. Results have revealed that continuous use of fruits and vegetables from ShizenNogyo farms results in curing of various skin diseases and allergies. Conventional Farm products may contain carcinogens, chemicals having residual chemical effects on human body as a result of aggressive use of chemical fertilizers and sprays to control insect, pest and diseases etc.
ORGANIC FARM MANAGEMENTIn organic farming, growers use the various types of farming techniques and approaches mainly based on locally available organic inputs and practices. However, these practices may vary from area to area. In organic production operations are usually labor intensive and are likely to be more suitable for farmers having small land holdings.SOIL MANAGEMENTOrganic farming is usually focused on maintaining soil fertility and avoiding soil erosion by adopting relevant farming practices. Some of the practices are:Crop RotationZero TillageUse of MulchCompostingFarm Yard ManureBokashi (A traditional Japanese Technique).
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Use of EM (effective microorganisms)PEST AND DISEASES MANAGEMENTUse of Neem (local plant) PowderUse of plants having pesticide properties as chilies, turmeric, etcUse of AshIn tunnel farming yellow shining sticky strips are used to catch the insects.WEED MANAGEMENTCrop rotation/ mixed croppingUse of Allopathic plant extracts like sorghum, brassica, barley etcMulchingHand Weeding/ Mechanical Control.ORGANIC FARMING IN PAKISTANIn Pakistan organic agriculture is at the infancy stage and only a few established organic farms are in production. Organic farming can play a vital role in poverty alleviation of small land holders as it requires more manual farming operations and very less or no use of expensive farm inputs. At a large scale, organic farm production can greatly help in revenue generation, especially from the export of organic products. Family based enterprises practicing organic farming can be more profitable by managing the operations and production themselves.
In 2008, the Directorate of Organic Farming was established under the auspices of the National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC), Islamabad, with the objective of helping small farmers/land holders. Later on, it was upgraded to the National Institute of Organic Agriculture (NIOA).The main constraints in promotion of organic farming in Pakistan and the counter measures to be undertaken by organic growers are described in the following section.1. LACK OF AWARENESSThere is a general lack of awareness among the producers as well as the consumers about the benefits of organic food products.
Resultantly, the farmers producing organic products have to sell them at conventional rates in local mandis/markets.To create a market base of organic food in Pakistan, established organic farm owners, growers and other stakeholders should work towards creating awareness among the farming communities about organic farming by using social, print and electronic media platforms. The benefits of consuming organic farm products and its impact on the ecosystem should be disseminated to the consumers and producers. 2. CERTIFICATIONAccess to the organizations responsible for the certification of organic farm products is one of the main hurdles in promotion of organic farming in Pakistan. Organic farmers / growers face difficulty in sale of their products at good rates in the absence of any proof or evidence to ensure the quality and nature of the produce. The responsibility lies on the private and government organizations and agricultural extension departments promoting organic farming to facilitate the farmers in certification of their organic products.
Organic Farmers should maintain their farm operations record and get themselves registered with the National Organic Farming Institute. Farm owners can also manage field trips for their consumers in order to ensure the food quality and farm management. Social media channels can also be used to market farm products and by showing farming practices to public by videos and daily updates.3. MARKETING OF ORGANIC FARM PRODUCEMarketing of Organic Farm Produce in Pakistan is somewhat different from other localities. At present the established organic farms are selling their products directly to big hotels in main cities. The small and medium level organic growers also need to adopt innovative / unique ways of marketing and promoting organic products to reap good profits.
Organic Growers should target selected health conscious audience from masses like doctors, patients, civil servants, media professionals, senior citizens and business community that can differentiate between organic and conventional farm produce and are willing to pay the right price.Organic Growers can register their farm brand and can display their produce in mega super stores like Hyperstar, Metro, Macro, CSD etc. Established growers can open business / franchise chains and can control and manage their organic food business from the production to consumption.Small and medium level farm owners can manage direct supply at customer’s doorstep by adopting professional logistics or managing the supply themselves. This will minimize the production cost by eliminating middle man / commission agent and can become cost effective for both the producer and the consumer.The potential avenues of organic farming industry in Pakistan are not fully explored or utilized.
There is a dire need to explore new avenues of the organic farming industry: Organic food restrunauts can be opened for health conscious people like senior citizens, patients, body builders, etc;Organic pet food shops can be a great addition as a possible new avenue in the organic food business;Organic fertilizers like compost, Bokashi and farm yard manure can also be commercially manufactured and marketed as these inputs can also be utilized in conventional agriculture.Organic suppliers / logistics can also be explored as a cost effective business under the organic industry;Organic certification labs can also be established by corporate investors, as at present the organic growers don’t have proper access to certification facilities;Training & Extension Services in the organic farming industry needs to be explored further.By: Yasir Habib