1. Question for UPSC Mains-GS3 on Organic Farming
  2. Introduction: Define and give origin
  3. Conclusion: Organic Farming ko Appriciate karo
  4. Afterthoughts / Mistakes / Pitfalls

Question for UPSC Mains-GS3 on Organic Farming

Sikkim is the first ‘Organic State’ in India. What are the ecological and economical benefits of Organic State? (150 words, 10 marks, asked in Mains-2018)

सिक्किम भारत में प्रथम ‘जैविक राज्य’ है। जैविक राज्य के पारिस्थितिक एव आर्थिक लाभ क्या-क्या होते है ?

Relevance to Syllabus of UPSC GSM3: (1) Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, (2) Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation.

Instructions for self-practice in Answer Writing

  • First read the organic farming topic from ch.21 of NIOS Environment PDFs available freely here in both Hindi and English.
  • You may also read about organic farming from previous Yojana, Kurukshetra magazine PDFs freely available here (Although that Yojana site appears non-functional right now!).
  • Then write answer on an unruled A4 sized paper with 1″ inch margin on each side. And compare with points given below.

Introduction: Define and give origin

Organic Farming ecological and economical benefits

  • (Definition) Organic farming is a type of agriculture that avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemical inputs. Organic farming systems relies on crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures, legumes, green manure, biofertilizers, biopesticides etc. [Copied from NIOS]
  • (Origin) [First give definition then]…. If an individual farmer adopts organic farming practices, he’ll be limited by many constrains such as availability of proper inputs at reasonable price. And even then, an individual farmer’s positive contribution to overall environment and economy of the nation will be limited by the size of his farm. Whereas, when State Government itself targets for 100% organic farming, it results in following benefits:

IF you don’t have enough points in body then pad the introduction with “Origin”. Else, you can just define organic farming and start body-1

Body-1: Ecological benefits of Organic State

  • Crop Residue Burning (CRB) in Punjab and Haryana results into heavy air pollution, smog and respiratory ailments in Delhi. If these states become “organic”, farmers will encouraged to turn crop residues into manure and animal feed instead of burning.
  • 100% organic state will see heavy demand of compost and manures. So, state government will be forced to optimize the urban municipal waste collection & treatment processes. Thus, less environmental pollution from landfill sites.
  • Organic farmers enrich the soil with biofertilizers (Azospirilium, Azotobacter, Mycorrhiza fungi, Rhizobia) and earthworms. These worms, bacteria and fungi improve the soil structure and soil’s water-holding capacity. Such ‘good’ soil helps preserving biological diversity. [Otherwise some insects, worms, will die because of ‘dry soil’, then their predators such as birds and snakes & their foodchain / foodweb will also suffer- but you need not elaborate all this in answer.]
  • In Kerala, the rampant use of “Endosulphan” pesticide led to variety of physical, mental and genetic disorders among the villagers. Aerial spray of Endosulphan even harmed the fishes and wildlife. Ultimately Supreme court had to enforce the ban and order the state to pay crores of rupees as compensation. If Kerala was an “organic state”, such crisis could have been averted through the use of biocontrol agents and biopesticides instead of artificial pesticides.
  • To protect its ‘brand’ in international market, an organic state strictly controls veterinary medicines so that no traces of banned chemicals are found in its milk, cheese, fish, prawns etc. exports. As a result, Diclofenac, Ketoprofen and other banned drugs will not be used in treating cattle. Thus, it’ll indirect prevent the death of vultures and scavengers who eat dead carcasses of cattle.
  • Since organic farmers can’t use chemical pesticides, they rely on biocontrol agents such as lady beetles, wasps, snakes, owls, sparrows and cats. People’s respect for wildlife increases, and it helps in protecting the food chain and food web of an ecosystem.
  • No use of chemical fertilizers. So, agriculture run-off water is free of excessive amounts of nitrates and phosphates. Thus, lakes, rivers and other waterbodies will be less vulnerable to algal blooms and associated ecological problems.

Mind the words: “less vulnerable”, not “completely immune”, because industrial effluents can still cause algal bloom. So, just because examiner asked benefits doesn’t mean you’ve to draw a picture that “rivers of honey and milk will flow and Ram Rajya will be established.” उत्साह मे अतिशयोक्तिपूर्ण जवाब नही लिखना चाहिए.

  • Similarly, Nitrate content in cattle-fodder also declines. As a result, such cattle release less greenhouse gases (GHG) in dung.
  • As agro-chemical industries see fall in demand, it’ll reduce the emission of pollutants and GHG from those industries. [Again, don’t say “Agro-chem companies’ GHG emission will completely stop”, because even if entire India becomes organic, they could still export such urea and pesticides to Africa.]
  • Organic produce fetches higher prices in international market. If the resultant benefits reach the farmer (and not the middlemen) then less migration towards cities in search of employment. So, the forces of urbanization and associated problems to ecology will decline (e.g. sparrow deaths, night predators can’t come out due to 24/7 lights and noise of nearby cities etc.)

These many points more than sufficient for 150 words, but can you think of more environmental benefits? Do share in the comments below!

Body-2: Economical Benefits of Organic State

  • North Eastern Region (NER)‘s niche crops like Assam lemon, Bhut Jolokia pepper, Joha rice, medicinal rice and Passion fruits have high market for their medicinal properties. If ’organic’ tag is also attached, their prices and demand will further improve, thus NE-states’ economic prosperity can improve. It’ll create the enabling atmosphere for food processing companies specializing in the “Organic Value Chains”. This will improve the investment and direct & indirect employment in the region.
  • By switching to organic farming, conventional farmer can actually reduce its production cost by over 25% as compared to the cost of conventional farming. And organic products command higher prices among the health conscious buyers from developed countries. Thus, farmer’s income is improved.
  • However, if an individual farmer adopts organic farming then his neighboring traditional farmers may create hinderance- because they’d be using chemical inputs and some of those chemical affluent / aerosols may creep into his farm and thus spoiling the ‘organic’ nature of his produce, then it’ll be rejected in international market after quality tests. But if the State government itself has made organic farming mandatory, then all farmers have to switch from conventional methods and thus income of every farmer will improve.
  • It’ll curb the excessive demand of Urea. Government’s subsidy burden will decline. The public money thus saved could be used for other developmental activities.
  • For Potash fertilizer, India is 100% import dependent. For Urea production, we’ve to import natural gas. Organic farming will reduce their imports, and thereby improve our balance of payment (BoP) and reduce our current account deficit (CAD).
  • Previous Economic Survey noted that Urea companies are commercially inefficient, not adopting latest technology and yet they survive due to government subsidy. If 2-3 large states of India adopt 100% organic farming, some of these companies will shut down due to great fall in Urea demand. Then, the land, labour and capital of these failed Urea companies can be shifted to more productive sectors of economy.
  • Organic food has variety of health benefits. So, if 100% organic state, then organic food will become staple diet of its residents. Then malnutrition will decline, life expectancy will improve, less budgetary allocation will be required for Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya YojanaAyushman Bharat, labour productivity will improve, ASER-Learning outcomes will improve and so forth. (But don’t overdrag like this by throwing a long list of schemes, its a minor point.)

These many points more than sufficient for 150 words, but can you think of more economical benefits? Do share in the comments below!

Conclusion: Organic Farming ko Appriciate karo

  1. (SDG-ki-evergreen-Pipudi) New India Vision 2022 requires doubling farmers’ income, while Sustainable Development Goal No.2 requires nations to adopt agriculture practices that improve land and soil quality & protect the genetic diversity of flora-fauna. Given the aforementioned ecological and economic economical benefits of organic farming, it can help us achieve both the targets. OR
  2. (Appreciate that Sikkim did it) In 2003, recognizing the aforementioned benefits, Sikkim stopped entry of chemical fertilizers, and its Vidhan-Sabha declared the intention to become a 100% organic state. The goal was achieved in 2015. Sikkim won Food and Agriculture Organization’s gold award for sustainable food system. Indeed, the farmers and policy makers of the state deserve applaud for achievement. (OR)
  3. (Appriciate the role in doubling farmers income) In recent decades, India’s agriculture growth rate has been struggling in single digit, whereas Sikkim state’s growth rate in agriculture reached 12% in 2014. Recognizing this economic benefit, even Government of India started Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY) for promotion of traditional / organic farming in 2015. Indeed, organic farming holds promise for improving our agriculture growth.

Afterthoughts / Mistakes / Pitfalls

  • In real exam, you couldnt have recollected the data/years to frame a “research paper” like conclusion number 2 or 3. Only first conclusion (SDG-ki-evergreen-Pipudi) is practicable in actual exam.
  • In body I’ve written long paragraphs for educational purpose, so that answer has reached 1200 words limit of a “UPSC Essay”. To fit it in 150 words limit you can selectively pick, combine and compress 3-3 points each for environment and economy.
  • “Organic farming’s ‘per hectre yield’ is very less compared to the chemical farming. So, from food security point of view, we can’t adopt organic farming everywhere in India, else we’ll have to import corn and wheat from USA for National Food security Act! So, if a small state like Sikkim is adopting organic farming, that’s welcome but entire India’s farms can’t be made organic”….. This line of argument is valid but we should not conclusion on such ‘negative tone’.
  • Don’t drag the threads excessively. e.g. “Government’s urea subsidy burden will decline so they can use money for education because according to ASER reports more than _ _ % of class 5 students can’t read class 3 books……”
  • Question itself has given premise “ecological and economical benefits”. So if you’ve not bifurcated the body in two parts, and just given a linear list of whatever point came in your mind, then it’s a poor answer.
  • For prelims, you already have prepared “Kerala’s endosulphan problem”, “Punjab’s paddy straw burning and air pollution”, “Vulture Diclofenac death” etc. The challenge is to recall those examples and link with “organic state” within the time limit and exam stress in mains. Otherwise, it’s not a difficult question unlike that LCGT & DDT Tax question in Mains-GSM3-2018.
  • However, dragging the logic all the way to 80s that “if Madhya Pradesh was 100% organic state than Union Carbide would not have gotten permission to setup a pesticide plant, Methyl isocyanate would not have leaked, Bhopal gas tragedy an its toll on human lives and environmental degradation could have been averted”. It’s bit too much. Drag it so long if only you don’t have any modern day examples left to fill 150 words.

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