Monday, August 9, 2010

Benefits of Organic Farming for Small Farmers

 The various benefits of organic farming for small farmers all over the world include high premium, low capital investment, ability to achieve higher premium in the market, and the ability to use traditional knowledge. According to a research conducted by the Office of Evaluation and Studies (OE), International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), small farmers in Latin America, China and India can benefit drastically from organic farming and will help in alleviating poverty in these countries.

Organic farming refers to means of farming that does not involve usage of chemicals such as chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides. Organic farming is being groomed to end modern farmers' struggles resulting to various debts and farming land mortgages. Numerous small farmers have been practicing organic farming; however, since they are unaware of the market opportunities they are not able to reap the benefits of organic farming.

Given below are some of the advantages of organic farming for small farmers:
High premium: Organic food is normally priced 20-30% higher than conventional food. This premium is very important for a small farmer whose income is just sufficient to feed his/her family with one meal.
Low investment: Organic farming normally does not involve capital investment as high as that required in chemical farming. Further, since organic fertilizers and pesticides can be produced locally, the yearly costs incurred by the farmer are also low. Agriculture greatly depends on external factors such as climate, pests, disease. Further most of the small farmers are dependent on natural rain for water. Therefore in cases of natural calamity, pest or disease attack, and irregular rainfall, when there is a crop failure, small farmers practicing organic farming have to suffer less as their investments are low. (It should be noted that while shifting from chemical farming to organic farming, the transition might be costly)
Less dependence on money lenders: Many small farmers worldwide commit suicide due to increasing debt. Since chemical inputs, which are very costly, are not required in organic farming, small farmers are not dependent on money lenders. Crop failure, therefore, does not leave an organic farmer into enormous debt, and does not force him to take an extreme step.
Synergy with life forms: Organic farming involves synergy with various plant and animal life forms. Small farmers are able to understand this synergy easily and hence find it easy to implement the
Traditional knowledge: Small farmers have abundance of traditional knowledge with them and within their community. Most of this traditional knowledge cannot be used for chemical farming. However, when it comes to organic farming, the farmers can make use of the traditional knowledge. Further, in case of organic farming, small farmers are not dependent on those who provide chemical know-how.

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