For the first time in the history of the world, every
human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from
the moment of conception until death. In less than two decades of their
use, synthetic pesticides have been so thoroughly distributed throughout
the animate and inanimate world that occur virtually everywhere.
More than four decades have passed. The production
and use of these dangerous chemicals have multiplied several times since
then. The poison has found its place in our vegetables, rice, wheat,
fruits, tea, coffee, milk, fish, eggs, meat and all food products. Today
even a newborn baby gets a dose of pesticides through mother's breast
milk. While you are reading this, the dangerous chemicals are working
within your body.
The pesticides in your body can cause cancer, mental
disorders, headache, vomiting, changes in heat beat rate, muscle
weakness, respiratory paralysis, convulsions, nervous system disorders,
liver and kidney damage, respiratory problems, coma and death. The
effects of exposure to pesticides can be passed on from generation to
Isn't it high time that we say no to synthetic
pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Don't we have a right to eat food
free from poison? Do our future generations and we have a right to
There is a need to make consumer aware of their part
in the process and thereby adopting, supporting and being responsible
for the quality of food they eat by supporting and motivating the
farmers to grow more healthier, nutritious, pesticide less and toxic
Organic farming sounds simple — no chemical
fertilizers, pesticides or genetically engineered plants. But succeeding
at it can be complicated. Present agriculture is not sustainable.
Agriculture today is causing a number of problems such as: decreasing
biodiversity; soil degradation; low income for farmers; pollution and
inefficient use of natural resources such as water; social and cultural
degradation; human health problems and environmental problems.
The present agriculture system that boasts of being
so efficient is heavily subsidized in rich countries. Agricultural
subsidies in the developed world are estimated at $ one billion per day.
In 2000, the Canadian farmer and US got a fifth of their income (19 and
22 percent respectively) from their government. In European Union it was
38 percent and in Japan 64 percent. It is astonishing that the
proponents of the current agriculture system insist that the solutions
for the future lie " more of the same", that is more
fertilizers, more pesticides, when the current system has failed to
The foundation of sustainable agriculture is a
healthy, fertile soil, on which the rest of the farm ecosystem depends.
Soil is not just another instrument of the crop production like
pesticides, fertilizers, and tractors. It is a complex, living and
fragile medium, which must be protected and nurtured to ensure its
productivity, stability and sustainability. It is a nation's prime
capital resource, the loss of which can lead to social, economic and
political decline. Due to maximum use of chemicals in agriculture, the
analysts have been warning of severe ecological damage. Most encourage
organic farming, where the concept of feeding the plant does not exist
and the attempt instead is to feed the soil, keep it healthy and living.
The numerous soil organisms and micro-organisms that thrive in 'living'
soil do much of the work.
Organic production is a complex system that
integrates soil fertility, crop rotation, water management and pest and
disease control. It requires a systems approach, but agricultural
research has historically tended to focus on narrow, single-issue
THE WORLD GROWS ORGANICALLY
The total area of farmland that is certified as
organic is reaching 20 million hectares and the world market of
certified organic products is approaching US$ 25 billion. A number of
national governments, notably in Europe have developed action plan and
set targets (up to 20 percent share for organic farming) to be met for
the development of organic agriculture.
Organic food sales almost tripled from 1997 through
2003 according to Organic Trade Association. Organic fruits and
vegetables account for most of the sales, while organic meats and snakes
foods - such as corn chips and rice cakes — are two of the fastest
"Organic agriculture is just a growth culture
within all agricultural industries." The US department of
agriculture says it has been increasing its financial support of organic
farming research since 2000.
The California organic agriculture industry has grown
quickly, producing sales of & 340 million in 2003. The state
produces nearly half of the total organic vegetables certified in the
United States; strawberries are most lucrative organic commodity in the
state on a per acre basis, valued at $ 17.5 million.
In response to $25 billion global market for organic
foods, the Indian Central Government set up a National Institute of
Organic Farming in October 2003. The purpose of this institute is to
formulate rules, regulation and certification of organic farm products
in conformity with international standards. The major organic products
sold in global markets include dried fruits and nuts, coca, spices,
herbs, oil crops and derived products. Non-food items include cotton,
cut flowers, livestock and potted plants. The institute, set up as part
of the national program for organic production, will have its offices
across the country and is appointing certifying agencies for organic
farm products for the domestic market.
Organic farming has been identified as major thrust
area of the 10th plan of the Indian central government, one billion
rupees have been allowed to the aforementioned National Institute of
Organic Farming alone for the 10th five-year plan. And by the end of
2004, 15 percent of farm products will be organically grown and
processed. The planning commission has set up a working group and the
department of commerce has established National Organic Standards.
What's all this rush? Money, of course. Statistics are predicting that
global market that was $ 17 billion in the year 2000 may touch the $ 31
billion mark by 2005 and India share is only 0.001 per cent.
There is growing international funding to produce
"organic" foods for export, particularly to small European
nations like Netherlands, where there is market demand but not capacity
to grow organic foods, cereals, fruit etc., for themselves.
There is no serious data on organic agriculture.
There is not much yet mostly assumptions and single cases. There is much
need for studies.
Eco-farming is widely practiced in Pakistan. As about
five millions hectares of the cultivated land in the country is rain fed
and unirrigated, these areas are organic by default. Organic farming is
either really expensive or really cheap depending on where you live and
whether or you are certified.
In USA, converting to organic agriculture is huge
undertaking for commercial farmers, who have relied on chemical
fertilizers and pesticides for many decades, but in Pakistan, the
conversion is less arduous, and more ironic.
Pakistan's farmers are still mostly practicing
organic methods, passed down for millennia, organic fertilizers and
natural pest control are the only tools available to most of these
farmers, who have always lacked the financial resources to chemical
solutions. But these farmers, whose produce is as organic as they come,
are not certified.
As the international community adopts standard for
organic agriculture, the challenges faced by farmers in the USA versus
farmers in Pakistan in order to adopt are very different indeed. The
danger is that the well-intentioned global move towards organic
standards, will make small organic farmers in countries like Pakistan,
who have been never done any thing but organic farming, no longer able
to sell their crops,
In order to prove you are organic farmer requires
certification, which is time consuming and expensive.
In India under current government policy, it takes
four years for a farm to be certified as organic. The cost of preparing
the report is a flat fee of Rs. 5000, and the certificate itself costs
another Rs. 5000. While these costs are bearable for the new industrial
organic green houses, they are equal to or more than an entire year's
income for average small farmer, if the costs of travel and inspection
In the United States, an organic farm plan or organic
handling plan must be submitted to a United States Department of
Agriculture — accredited private or state certification program. The
plan must explain all current growing and handling methods, and any
materials that will be used — in the present, and any further plan
must be included as well. Records for the last five years must be
presented. Land must be chemical free for three years prior to harvest,
so a conventional farmer cannot receive organic label for transitional
years. This will generally mean a decrease in income — crops may be
less plentiful than with conventional fertilizers and pesticides, and
yet the higher price for organic products won't yet be possible. Many
farmers cannot afford the transition, even if they want to.
— Pakistan should also do the homework and should
develop the organic farming institutions to get its share in the home
emerging global market.
— Consumers are responding positively and
government and international organizations are increasingly recognizing
the value of organic farming.
— The certifying agencies should be accountable for
confirming that any product sold with new "Pakistan Organic"
logo is in accordance with international criteria, and will launch major
awareness and marketing campaigns in Pakistan and abroad.
- One solution to the small farmer's dilemma of how
to both certify and survive is that of community certification. This
concept is increasingly popular among farming communities worldwide who
have become fed up with accreditation agencies. In community
certification, communities on a non-profit basis take charge of the
certification process themselves. They evaluate the farmer's commitment
to the stewardship of the soil; and examine from many angle. Whether the
food is being grown in an environmentally sensitive way or not, rather
than technical standards. While community certification may be a viable
solution on the local level. In the global market place, less than
technical standards will never be enough for today's consumers in
largely poisoned environment.
— Certification to international organic standards
will not be easy for Pakistan's small farmers. Pakistan must find a way
to keep the strict international organic standards intact, if wants to
compete in the international market for organic foods but is there a way
to do it without leaving small farmers out in the cold? One obvious
solution is for the government so eager to make Pakistan organic to
subsidize these certification fees enough to make it viable option for
— Our international Air Lines, Hotels and Tourist
industry should take pride in serving 'Pakistan Organic" foods to
— The organic agriculture may be developed for
creating employment and reduction of poverty in Pakistan.