QUESTION : Examine the strength, potential and challenges of the organic food sector in India.
ORGANIC FARMING IN INDIA
Organic Farming and its advantages
WHY IN NEWS ?
- India has 30 per cent of the total organic producers in the world, but accounts for just 2.59 per cent (1.5 million hectares) of the total organic cultivation area of 57.8 million hectares. India ranks first in the number of organic farmers and ninth in terms of area under organic farming.
- Sikkim became the first State in the world to become fully organic and other States including Tripura and Uttarakhand have set similar targets. North East India has traditionally been organic and the consumption of chemicals is far less than rest of the country. Similarly the tribal and island territories are being nurtured to continue their organic story.
WHAT IS ORGANIC FARMING ?
Organic farming is a method of farming system which primarily aimed at cultivating the land and raising crops in a natural way. It aims to keep the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (biofertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable production in an eco-friendly pollution free environment.
COMPONENTS AND ORGANIC FARMING :
- Maintaining genetic diversity
- Managing soil health
- Selection of variety
- Nutrient management
- Water management
- Weed management
- Pest and Disease management
- Livestock management
- Protecting the long-term fertility of soils by maintaining organic matter levels, encouraging soil biological activity, and careful mechanical intervention.
- Providing crop nutrients indirectly using relatively insoluble nutrient sources which are made available to the plant by the action of soil microorganisms.
- Nitrogen self-sufficiency through the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation, as well as effective recycling of organic materials including crop residues and livestock manures.
- Weed, disease and pest control rely primarily on crop rotations, natural predators, diversity, organic manuring, resistant varieties and limited (preferably minimal) thermal, biological and chemical intervention.
- The extensive management of livestock, paying full regard to their evolutionary adaptations, behavioural needs and animal welfare issues with respect to nutrition, housing, health, breeding and rearing.
- Careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the wider environment and the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats
NEED OF ORGANIC FARMING :
- With the increase in population in India, we need not only to stabilize agricultural production but to increase it further in a sustainable manner.
- The scientists have realized that the ‘Green Revolution’ with high input use has reached a plateau and is now sustained with diminishing return of falling dividends.
- Thus, a natural balance needs to be maintained at all cost for the existence of life and property.
- The agrochemicals which are produced from fossil fuel and are not renewable and are diminishing in availability.
- It may also cost heavily on our foreign exchange in future
ITS BENEFITS :
- Farmers can reduce their production costs because they do not need to buy expensive chemicals and healthier farm workers.
- It can support substantially higher levels of wildlife especially in low lands and where animals can roam in pastures or graze on grassland.
- In the long term, organic farms save energy and protect the fewer residues in food.
- Organic farming practices not only benefit dairies as well as when dairies feed their cows organic feed, the cows experience better health.
- More animals and plants can live in the same place in a natural way.
- Pollution of ground water is stopped.
ITS DISADVANTAGES :
- Organic food is more expensive because farmers do not get as much out of their land as conventional farmers do. Organic products may cost up to 40% more.
- Marketing and distribution is not efficient because organic food is produced in smaller
- Food illnesses may happen more often.
- Organic farming cannot produce enough food that the world’s population needs to survive. This could lead to starvation in countries that produce enough food today.
GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES PROMOTING OF :
- Government of India has been promoting organic farming under two dedicated Schemes, namely, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER) since 2015-16 under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).
- Organic Farming has also been supported under other Schemes viz Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), Network Project on Organic Farming under Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
- Third party certification of organic farming is promoted by Agriculture Processed Food and Export Development Authority (APEDA), Ministry of Commerce.
WAY FORWARD :
Natural farming is not a new concept in India, with farmers having tilled their land without the use of chemicals – largely relying on organic residues, cow dung, composts, etc. since time immemorial. This is also in sync with the Sustainable Development Goal 2 targeting ‘end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’.
India needs to bring more area under Organic farming in the future, with better incentives to the cultivators.
Organic farming has the bright prospect in the future with advantages of soil and biodiversity preservation, environment conservation and healthy citizens.
India needs the introduction of structural changes through policy interventions and technological deployment in organic farming and make it resilient, sustainable and profitable.
Hence with greater awareness and capacity building of the producers on compliance with international standards, Indian organic farmers will soon be reinforcing their rightful place in global agri trade.
QUESTION : How severe is the issue of mental health in India and at the same time covid-19 impacted millions of Indians mentally. Examine this by giving appropriate solutions while tackling such issues.
SAVING LIVES UNDER THE LONG SHADOW OF THE PANDEMIC
Impacted mental health during pandemic
WHY IN NEWS ?
The fear of being infected and anxiety about an uncertain present and future have impacted mental health of vulnerable communities during the pandemic.
How the Covid- 19 pandemic has impacted population around the world?
- Change in daily lives-
Before the pandemic, India’s progress as one of the fastest growing economies led to large paradigm shifts in the daily lives of its citizens.
Major lifestyle shifts led to the rise of many lifestyle disorders.
The pandemic has completely changed the way people live.
- New Normal-
Necessary precautions such as social distancing, limited interactions and mask usage have become the new normal, with huge social, physical, economic and mental consequences.
- Dire socio-economic conditions arise–
Mass migration, unemployment and economic distress — make at-risk groups even more vulnerable during such times.
- Rising stress–
While progress on a COVID-19 vaccine is promising, uncertainty as a result of the pandemic is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
The fear of getting infected, coupled with a lack of knowledge, isolation from the community and the economic fallout has created a new level of stress.
- Vulnerable Population-
- Health-care workers, infected people, the elderly, migrant workers, those from resource-poor backgrounds, women facing domestic violence, individuals with compromised immunity, and those suffering from physical or psychological problems.
REASONS BEHIND THE INCREASE IN SUICIDES DURING PANDEMIC :
- Lack of care in the treatment institution-
The findings reveal that one in four of these deaths occurred among hospitalised patients, demonstrating the need for extra care and vigilance during institutional treatment for either COVID-19 or any other illness.
- Alcohol or drug addiction-
The sudden closure of alcohol/liquor outlets resulted in an increase in alcohol-related suicides.
- Ignorance of early signs of poor mental health-
Such as a sudden change in behaviour, substance use, anxiety, disturbed sleep and difficulty in communication.
IMPORTANT STEPS TO PREVENT SUICIDES :
- Avoid distressing information– While the feeling of uncertainty during this pandemic is normal, being informed and limiting ourselves to authentic sources of information and reducing exposure to distressing news is a good mechanism.
- Educate people for their health- Any sudden change in health should not be ignored.
- Creation of national suicide prevention strategy– The plan incorporates the three universal strategies-
A ban or reduction in access to highly hazardous pesticides.
Reduction in consumption and availability of alcohol.
A non-sensationalised and responsible portrayal of suicide by the media.
- Media role in awareness- The media would need to follow Press Council of India’s guidelines on reportage of suicide and also create awareness about suicide prevention.
- Destigmatising suicide- There is urgent need for Destigmatising suicide as a phenomenon and encourage in large platform to seek help from the counsellor.
- Regular Contact support- It is to ensure there is an increase in the number of functional and accessible helplines and training of gatekeepers. If suicide has been attempted the individual has the required intervention and regular contact support.
WAY FORWARD :
- Specific preventive strategies at the community level such as (i) implementing effective communication and (ii) providing adequate psychological services should be carried out in order to attenuate the psychological and psychosocial impact of COVID-19 outbreak.
- Health education needs to be enhanced using online platforms, social fear related to COVID-19 needs to be correctly addressed while stigma and discrimination need to be recognized as major challenges able to reinforce the feelings of uncertainty in a period of social crisis.
- Hospitals protocols linked to the early and effective management of health emergency need to be implemented while healthcare professionals need to be supplied by adequate protective facilities.
- Scientific community should provide appropriate information to attenuate the impact of anxiety, frustration, and all the negative emotions which represent important barriers to the correct management of social crisis and psychological consequences related to pandemic.
- Unmet needs should be rapidly identified by medical staff who need to communicate frequently and in a timely manner with most of patients to understand the risk to develop new symptoms or worsen a preexisting psychological distress.
- Marginalized populations such as elderly individuals or those with psychological problems should be able to actively consult with clinical psychotherapists to rapidly detect warning signs.
- Telemedicine should be really implemented especially in areas where mental health services are poorly represented or severely impaired by the rapid spread of pandemic and lockdown restrictions.
Implementing community-based strategies to support resilience and psychologically vulnerable individuals during the COVID-19 crisis is fundamental for any community.