Organic farming, with particular reference to the Gurez Valley – Kashmir Reader

Organic farming has become the most popular type of alternative agriculture not only in India but all over the world. Assam in India succeeded in becoming 100% organic in 2016. The gradual shift to organic farming is mainly due to the fact that we as consumers are increasingly concerned about the health effects accidental consumption of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic farming is widely considered a much more sustainable alternative when it comes to food production. The lack of pesticides and a greater variety of plants improves biodiversity and results in better soil quality and reduced pollution from fertilizer or pesticide runoff. Environmental scientists have warned us about land degradation and its effects on our lives.
We now live in the “danger zone” for four of the nine planetary boundaries: climate change, biodiversity, land use change and biogeochemical fluxes. All four are intimately linked to soil health. Soils contain 80% of all the carbon stored on earth. Deteriorating soil health is already seriously affecting lives and livelihoods. Land degradation due to human activities costs around 10% of the world’s gross product. Combined with the effects of climate change, land degradation could reduce crop yields by 10% globally by 2050.
According to the researchers, one of the causes of soil degradation is the excessive and disproportionate use of chemicals. In order to meet the growing needs of the public and to promote plant products, high inputs of chemicals are used in the soil in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, nematicides and weedkillers, as well as intensive irrigation practices. Toxic chemicals influence the life of beneficial soil microorganisms, which are responsible for maintaining soil fertility. In addition, groundwater, air, and human and animal health have also been directly and indirectly affected by these chemicals.
Soil health is a multi-dimensional and vital feature of soil, and forms the basis for healthy food production, thereby contributing to local and global food security. By 2050, a 60% increase in global food production and related ecosystem services must be achieved. But, due to soil erosion, nutrient loss, salinity, sealing and pollution, one-third of the world’s soils are currently facing moderate to extreme degradation. Chemical fertilizers increase plant growth and vigor, which helps meet global food security needs, but plants grown in this way do not develop good plant characteristics such as good root system, shoot system, nutritional characteristics and will not have time to grow and mature properly.
The deleterious effect of chemical fertilizers begins with processing chemicals whose products and by-products are some harmful chemicals or gases that cause air pollution, such as NH4, CO2, CH4, etc. It also causes water pollution when waste from industries is disposed untreated into nearby water bodies. This results in the most damaging impact of the accumulation of chemical wastes in water bodies, i.e. water eutrophication. It is therefore high time to realize that our climate and our biodiversity are impoverished by this plant production input. Its continued use without taking any remedial action to reduce or adopt wise use will one day deplete all natural resources and threaten all life on earth.
A large number of microbes congregate around plant roots, leading to a distinction between soil nutrient status and soil microbial population composition. The region with the greatest contact between plant roots, soil and microorganisms is the rhizosphere. Rhizosphere microbes play an important role in soil material cycling and energy transfer. Fertilizer application also has a negative influence on soil microorganisms. The widespread use of chemical fertilizers leads to a decline in soil fertility and a number of environmental problems, while bioorganic fertilizers not only improve soil fertility through the contribution of beneficial microorganisms and organic matter, but also eliminate many environmental problems caused by chemical fertilizers. . Studies have shown that various fertilization treatments have a significant effect on soil microbial biomass structure and community. Different fertilizer applications change the physical and chemical properties of the soil, which in turn affects the structure of the soil bacterial community.
Previous studies have shown that pH, nitrates and available phosphate and potassium are important soil factors that influence microbial community structure. Repeated excessive use of chemical fertilizers can have a negative impact on soil quality and the composition of the soil microbial population. The adverse effects of these synthetic chemicals on human health and the environment can be reduced or eliminated by adopting new agricultural technology practices, including the use of organic inputs such as manure, biofertilizers, biopesticides, slow-release fertilizers and nano-fertilizers, etc., and move away from intensive chemical cultivation.
After going through all these harms of conventional farming, it is very easy to understand the question, why prefer organic farming? Organic farming is a method of plant and animal production that involves much more than choosing not to use pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones. India is mainly in the development of agriculture and environment. Organic farming concludes the two together. In organic farming, there is a use of organic products that are harmless to the soil as well as the environment, so both goals are achieved. It improves the nutritional quality of food
Organic crops are grown in biologically active soils that are healthy and safe. Crops from organic farms take longer to grow and tend to yield less per acre than crops from industrial agriculture. Additionally, soil-fed plants in organic farms produce crops that are most likely made up of more important minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.
There are so many problems that everyone faces in the conventional food system, such as water pollution, birth defects, farm animal suffering and so much more. I will support this fact with an example: in the past there were no medical structures in Gurez-Tulail, but the people were very strong, healthy and fit, the women normally gave birth at home without any medical problem. . 95% of children born were healthy and medically fit. People used to eat food grown in their own land and depended entirely on crops grown in their own fields. The crops grown were corn, wheat, different types of lentils, green vegetables, potatoes, etc. low quality. The effect of conventional products is that people are no longer as healthy and fit as before. People often get sick and 95% of children are born in hospital by caesarean section or surgery.
Many farmers in Gurez, North Kashmir have started growing crops using organic farming. Farmers use composted manure to maintain organic matter and soil fertility. The crops produced have a different taste and better quality than those available on the market. The organic peas, corn, wheat and lentils grown in Gurez are very nutritious and tasty. People prefer to buy Gurezi maize, potatoes and kidney beans from organic farming. Green vegetables grown in Gurez have a different flavor and many health benefits. Manure is usually applied to the field as raw manure (fresh or dried). Often the manure is used after it has been dried, kept collected somewhere near the fields. It is then applied to the field during the fall or spring season. The main sources of manure are excrement from cattle sheds, urine, nervousness from poultry, excrement from sheep and goats, cow dung, etc.
Gurez is being developed for tourism and is doing well on that front. If local farmers are supported, if they learn different organic farming methods to improve crop yield, the local economy can also be boosted. The crops grown in the valley are already very famous among the people of Kashmir, but the crops are still not available in the markets. Organic products are expensive because they are of the highest quality, but they can work wonders in the agricultural market.
On the one hand, the world is moving towards organic farming, but on the other hand, Gurez’s organic farming is decreasing day by day. Departments of agriculture, horticulture and social forestry can help and support local farmers in developing their farming practices. People have even started growing apples and walnuts in their orchards and if supported by the departments, these too can be improved. Organic farming is 35% more profitable than conventional farming. A lot of investors are looking to invest in organic farming because there are a lot of people going vegan.
There is a very bright future for organic farming in the years to come. To boost the local economy of Gurez, there is a need to teach local farmers new organic farming methods and techniques, so that there are healthier food products available in the market.

The author is an earth science student at the Indra Gandhi National Open University in New Delhi.

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