What is organic agriculture?
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) defines organic agriculture as:
"a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved." (IFOAM 2005)
Good Earth fully agrees with this definition, in fact, we are now official IFOAM members, the only member from Pakistan currently (please see certification at bottom of page). The connection between our food choices, our health, and our natural environment has never been more clear.
Environmental Benefits of organic agriculture
On a local level, organic farming will significantly reduce the Nitrogen and Phosphorus fertilizer runoffs from our target farming areas commonly occurring due to excess application. This then improves the water quality of surrounding areas that many people and animals downstream depend on. Similarly, organic practices cut out pesticides, known for their toxicity and adverse effects to the environment including (but not limited to) soil contamination, biodiversity reductions and harmful air pollution caused by spraying in vast fields.
The persistent problem of nutrient-rich top soil loss and general soil degradation associated with intensive conventional farming techniques in Pakistan and abroad is also overcome with organic practices. Organic practices help protect the top soil still existing and also allows for the eventual rebuilding of this resource.
On a global scale, organic farming reduces the dependency on fossil fuels, currently core to the production of fertilizers, thus supporting a transition away from the carbon intensive based food production methods and promoting a more stable climate.
The Problem with Conventional Agriculture
Conventional agriculture in Pakistan is characterized by excessive use of chemical inputs like pesticides and fertilizers, which contribute to land degradation and declining productivity, and also result in the production of inferior quality crops with high pesticide content.
Furthermore, under existing practices, farmers buy agricultural inputs from local markets on high credit (up to 150% APR) and without prior knowledge of price and quality, or even the soil requirements. This leads to increasing debt burdens for the farmer and often times inferior quality inputs.
Finally, these conventional practices with expensive inputs and static markets offer only minimal profits to the small-scale farmer, doing little to help them improve their well-being.
Small-scale farmers and Poverty
A Special Rapporteur to the UN reports that "growth originating in agriculture is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty" compared to that originating outside of agriculture. And the effects are greatest when this growth originates with small-scale farmers. When small-scale farmers benefit, Pakistan benefits.
Read more of this UN report: http://bit.ly/2iwZc3r
Not only does organic farming support the small-scale farmers, but according to another UN report, it is the only way to feed the world.
the obstacles for small-scale farmers
While organic agriculture holds substantial economic and environmental benefits for agricultural farmers in Pakistan, adoption by small-scale farmers is absent due to the lack of knowledge about organic agriculture practices, organic inputs, certifications, and the inaccessibility of markets. Currently, organic agriculture is practiced either by farmers in remote areas or by large-scale farmers who have the means to address the existing market failures. In both cases, the benefits of organic agriculture do not feature inclusive growth for small-scale farmers. We are here to change that.