Organic Farming In Maharashtra, How To Start

Introduction on how to start organic farming in Maharashtra: Maharashtra is one of the leading states in India economically and agriculturally, with significant production of important food and cash crops, including sugarcane and flowers. It is a system that avoids or largely eliminates the use of artificially compound fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, genetically modified organisms, and animal feed additives. Maximum organic farming system to maintain crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, legumes, green manures, organic waste from farms, bio-fertilizers, mechanical cultivation, mineral impact rocks, and soil production depends on the aspects of biological control to supply plant nutrients and control pests, weeds and other pests.

A guide on how to start organic farming in Maharashtra, cultivation practices, and organic crops in Maharashtra

Organic Guava Farming in Maharashtra
Organic Guava Farming (Image source: pixabay)

Organically grown foods are growing in popularity due to their nutritional and health benefits. It protects the environment and has a greater socio-economic impact on a nation. Organic farming is gaining increasing popularity as a farming process. Organically grown food has become the best choice for both consumers and farmers.

The area under organic farming in Maharashtra

Organic farming is defined as the process of crop and livestock farming that involves much more than the use of pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics, and growth hormones. Organic farming is a system of production that maintains the soil, the ecosystem, and the health of the people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity, and cycles that are adapted to local conditions. Organic farming is an agricultural process in India, controlling pests obtained from organic fertilizers and animal or plant waste. It is a new agriculture system that repairs, maintains, and also improves the ecological balance. Organic farming uses organic inputs, green manures, and cow dung, etc.

The state has a range of climates that vary from some of the driest regions of the country, for example, the Deccan ecological zone with an average annual rainfall of 500 mm, in most areas, such as the eco-region of the Western Ghats. Achieving an average of 7,000 mm, the mission will assist farmers in the production, certification, processing, and marketing of agricultural products such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, and cereals that will be free from pesticides and insecticides.

  • The area under organic cultivation – 8 to 10 Lakh Hectares.
  • Area Registered for Certification – 1.14 Lakh Hectares. Certified – 0.42 lakh Hectares. Under – 0.72 lakh Hectares.
  • Total Vermicomposting units – 1.26 lakh
  • Developed Model Organic Farms – 37 farms
  • Major Crops – Cotton, Cereals, Fruits, and Vegetables, etc.

Package of Organic Practices from Maharashtra

In India, organic farming is promoted in 84 villages of Paithan Taluka in the state of Maharashtra. There are 4 million organic farmers in Maharashtra, all of whom are using a combination of crop residues and a small amount of fermented manure and cow urine to keep plants and animals alive in the soil, which is ultimately the foundation of sustainable soil fertility.

The Maharashtra Organic Farming Federation (MOFF) is a volunteer organization of farmers across the state who have come together to protect and improve the health of organic farms, the environment, and consumers. The choices of organic farmers today vary from natural farming (low interference type) to farming methods using a variety of external inputs. However, their goal is the same – to reduce farming costs, earn enough income and ensure that both food producers and consumers can lead healthy lives. With this goal in mind, Maharashtra Organic Farming Federation members first tested and later standardized a set of ‘best practice’ methods, which farmers may vary and adapt to. This way of working gives farmers a choice in different ways according to their local needs.

Organic farming products require certification, which requires stringent documentation and expensive inspections by consultants, and sometimes expensive laboratory testing. However, MOFF is promoting organic farming as a low-cost, cost-saving for food production and safe livelihood for small and backward farmers who can earn more and save more through its methods. ۔ MOFF believes in the principles of low external input sustainable agriculture (LEISA), which primarily emphasizes that farm biomass can be better managed by recycling farm biomass. This is done by;

(a) Crop rotation

(b) Green manure crops, intercrops, and mowing

(c) Preparations based on cow dung and cow urine act as both nutrients and disinfectants.

The top three states with the largest area under organic farming are Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra account for 4.9, 2.0, and 1.6% of their net sown area, respectively.

The state government’s Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) is engaged in training farmers for adopts organic farming practices. According to the ATMA, the response to organic farming has increased. The association has been running a scheme for organic farming for the last four years. In the first phase, more than 2,000 acres of agricultural land were brought under organic farming with the participation of 1,892 farmers and 40 groups of farmers. In the second phase, 1,100 acres of land have been identified under this scheme in which 703 farmers have so far joined.

Organic products are grown under an agricultural system without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. It is a farming method that works at the grassroots level to produce soil reproductive and regenerative capacity, good plant nutrition, and proper soil management, producing nutritious foods that are resistant to disease. Demanding that the funds for organic farming should be used to revitalize the agro-environment, “Governments and universities are constantly using the reduction in farmyard fertilizer (FYM) due to organic farming. But they are not doing anything to revive the village’s forests and pastures, which were the basis for grazing fodder for livestock.

Zero-budget farming experts also say that groups of organic farmers in Maharashtra have repeatedly made presentations to the government in this regard, but their views have not been taken into account in formulating or implementing the policy. The Maharashtra government is developing a comprehensive plan to promote phased organic farming as an alternative to chemical fertilizers. The Ministry of Agriculture is drafting and a special allotment will be made to meet the target.

Organic farming is a production management system that promotes the agroecosystem. Many studies show that organic farming methods can yield more than traditional methods. Significant differences can also be seen in soil health indicators such as nitrogen mineral capacity and microbial abundance and diversity, which were higher in organic farms. Improving soil health in organic farming has resulted in a significant reduction in the incidence of pests and diseases. Emphasis on small-scale integrated farming systems has the potential to revitalize rural regions and their economies.

Advantages and Benefits of organic farming

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Benefits of organic farming
Benefits of organic farming (Image credit: pixabay)
  • It helps maintain environmental health by reducing pollution levels.
  • This reduces the risks to human and animal health by reducing the level of residue in the product.
  • It also reduces the cost of agricultural production and improves soil health.
  • This ensures maximum use of natural resources for short-term benefit and helps conserve them for future generations.
  • This not only saves energy for both animals and machinery but also reduces the risk of crop failure.
  • It improves the physical properties of the soil such as granular, good tillage, good aviation, easy root access, and water holding capacity and reduces erosion.
  • It improves the chemical properties of the soil such as supply and maintenance of soil nutrients, reduces nutrient deficiencies in water reservoirs and the environment, and promotes favorable chemical reactions.
  • The farmer can earn a good return on investment by using cheap and local inputs. Therefore, this is one of the most important benefits of organic farming in India.
  • Organic products are in high demand in India and around the world and can generate more revenue through exports.
  • Organic products are more nutritious, tasty, and healthier than chemical and fertilizer products.
  • Organic farming in India is very environmentally friendly; it does not use fertilizers and chemicals.

Soil management in organic farming in Maharashtra

Soil management is the basic technique of organic farming in India. After planting, the soil loses its nutrients, and its fertilizer goes down. The process by which soil is recharged with all the essential nutrients is called soil management. Organic farming uses natural methods to increase soil fertility. It uses bacteria available in animal waste. Bacteria help make the soil more productive and fertile.

Organic feeds on microorganisms and other organisms in the soil promote biological activity and help fight pests in organic farming. The use of core crops for soil protection, application of fertilizers and manures, rotation of crops, and control of erosion, can maintain or increase soil organic matter. Soil improving methods in organic farming include crop rotation, intercropping, symbiotic associations, organic fertilizers, and minimal farming is central to organic methods. These methods encourage soil formation and structure and more stable systems. Nutrition and energy cycling on the farm is increased and soil retention capacity for nutrients and water is increased. Such management methods play an important role in controlling soil erosion.

Organic farming systems require a different approach to managing soil fertility than the methods used in traditional farming systems. Nutrients are highly soluble in synthetic fertilizers, so nutrient availability is highly anticipated and nutrients are readily available to plants.

Basic principles of organic farming

The below principles form the basis of the organic farming methods;

  • Basic principles and methods of organic food production encouraging and enhancing biological cycles in farming systems, keeping and deepening the soil roots, reducing all kinds of pollution, avoiding the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers, preserving genetic diversity in food, consider the vast social and environmental impacts of food production, and produce plenty of high-quality food.
  • A healthy, biologically active soil is a source of nutrients for the crop; external inputs, if any, can only be provided for the cultivation of soil biota, which in turn feeds the crop.
  • Balanced nutrient crops due to healthy soil biota activity and farm biodiversities such as pests and birds do not require special crop protection measures.
  • An organic farming package is an integrated use of different techniques including mixed crops with 5-10 species, cultivating green manure crops, mixing crop residues with soil, soil mulching from weed removal, growing Insect trap crops, and farming adds fruit, fodder, fertilizer, and trees for natural shade for livestock.
  • The use of jeevamrut requires external input which feeds the soil microorganisms, and then resulting in adequate crop nutrition and crop safety.
  • Compost or vermicomposting or farmyard manure (FYM) can be added only when available and if the soil needs heavy nutrients.
  • The integration of agriculture with livestock reflects the true spirit of organic farming, as crop residues and livestock products serve as the nourishment of safe crops. Indigenous breeds are preferred because they are low-cost, disease resistant and their products are of high quality for human and crop health.

Crops cultivated under organic farming in Maharashtra

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Organic Banana  Cultivation in Maharashtra
Banana Crop (Pic credit: pixabay)

The major organic crops grown in Maharashtra are as follows;

The major crops grown in Maharashtra are Cotton, Sorghum, Rice, Soybean, Pigeon Pea, Green Gram, Red Gram, Black Gram, Bajra, Banana, Sugarcane, Wheat, and various grains. Before the sowing season, they plough the fields once or twice and harrow them once or twice during the growing season. Farmyard manure is applied one to three times a year, an average of 10 tons per hectare per year. In addition, they enrich the soil by planting plants and mulching organic matter.

Organically grown fruits in Maharashtra includes Guava, Chikoo, Pomegranate are grown in large quantities in Maharashtra. Maharashtra is famous for fruits like Mango, Cashew, Pomegranate, Pineapple, Citrus, Banana, Custard Apple, Grape, and Guava. The production of Cashews, Citrus, Grapes, Guavas, and Bananas is higher than the national average.

Some of the major organic products grown in Maharashtra are coffee, dried fruits, oilseeds, tea, millet, cereals, and spices, etc.

Organic farming policy for Maharashtra farmers

The state government launched the organic farming policy for Maharashtra farmers. The scheme has been implemented by the Maharashtra Agriculture Department. The government has to encourage organic farming in Maharashtra under this scheme. The state government has formulated a special policy for organic farming in the state. The policy describes organic farming as an integrated approach, which uses local natural resources for farming and rejects the use of chemicals for cultivation. The scheme aims to encourage farmers to use organic inputs to improve the fertility rate of the land, certify organic farming, marketing organic products, organic agricultural products, and promotion of organic farming.

Under organic farming, Maharashtra aims to bring 8 to 10 lakh hectares of land in the next 5 years. This policy is applicable in the entire state of Maharashtra except for Mumbai and its suburbs. The state of Maharashtra has about 200 lakh hectares under cultivation and a group of farmers who are practicing organic farming techniques. The total area under organic farming is still small, but it is steadily increasing in the state due to the low cost of such farming.

Maharashtra government has set up an OCA (Organic Certification Agency) to promote organic farming practices. The OCA will be headed by the Secretary of Agriculture, which will include members of organizations engaged in organic farming and heads of organic farming from agricultural universities.

The state government has formulated a special policy for the sector to encourage organic farming in Maharashtra. The policy has developed a roadmap to develop the entire value chain, from the farm to the consumer. The policy describes organic farming as an integrated approach, one that uses local natural resources for farming and one that rejects the use of chemicals for cultivation. Such a method of farming will help improve soil quality and reduce air and water pollution. About 200 lakh hectares are cultivated in Maharashtra. Over the past 15 years, several groups of farmers have adopted organic farming techniques. The total area under organic farming is still small, but it is growing in the metropolitan area due to the reasonable prices of such farm products.

Benefits of state organic farming policy

  • To get the benefits of low-cost organic farming.
  • To get the benefits of saving money in organic farming.
  • To get the benefits of cancelling the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
  • To get the benefits of subsidy in organic farming.
  • To get the economic and environmental benefits of organic farming.

Application Procedure

  • The State Government of Maharashtra implements organic farming throughout the State.
  • The farmer contacts the district or taluka level agriculture department of Maharashtra for organic farming.
  • Farmers also contact the gram panchayat in the villages.

Capital required for organic farming in Maharashtra

Implementing organic farming practices across the state does not require much capital. Farmers need to be made aware of how their practices are followed. In fact, by using organic farming methods, farmers can save money and not have to spend on fertilizers and pesticides. If they convert field waste into compost, the cost of their cultivation can also be controlled.

The policy aims to develop organic food safety standards that meet international standards. Incentives will be given to industries setting up units for processing, packaging, and temperature level control warehouses for organic foods. Also, it wants to develop a marketing infrastructure for such products.

The process to get an organic agriculture product certificate in Maharashtra 

Procedure;

  • A person (farmer/farmer group/processor/trader) who is looking for a certificate of organic farming for his agricultural produce should make sure that his form is from the National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) for organic crop production.
  • They must apply the mandatory form which will include fees and full-field verification as stated by the National Program for Organic Production (NPOP).
  • Natural Organic Certification Agro Private Limited (NOCA) has provided organic crop production standards which are available on the NOCA website.
  • The individual form is available on the application form and can be downloaded.
  • The operator (the person certified for the unit/form) inquires with the NOCA office. Then, NOCA sends a detailed application package that includes a copy of the application form, and Indian Organic Standards.
  • NOCA reviews the application and sends the quotation along with the fee scale along with inspection and certification. Upon acceptance of the offer, the operator is required to pay 70% of the offer fee in advance.
  • The operator is registered on the traced net.
  • After receipt of NOCA in advance payment, fix the date and time of inspection. Before the inspection, the operator must sign an inspection and verification agreement.
  • During the inspection, the operator has to cooperate with the inspector as stated in the inspection and certification agreement. After that, the inspector completes the inspection report during the inspection visit. The operator acknowledges it with his signature and receives a copy. Also, copies of the scale of the sanctions and relevant standards are handed over to the operator during the inspection. The original inspection report will be sent to the NOCA office for further certification.
  • Total inspection and certification costs are finalized after inspection and a receipt is sent to the operator. After that, the operator must send the remaining 30% of the final invoice to Natural Organic Certification Agro Private Limited.
  • Upon receipt of full payment, the inspection report and file will be submitted to the Certification Committee. Contact will be sent to the operator if additional documentation is required.
  • The Certification Committee will decide on the certification based on the available documents. Certification decisions will be notified to NOCA within one month of receipt of the inspection report, payment, and relevant documents (if any).
  • To use the Certification Agency logo or India Organic logo, the operator has to send an application to the office which will be sent to the operator after the approval of the Certification Committee as per NSOP. The draft labels must be sent to the certification agency’s office for verification and approval before printing.

Eligibility – Certified products need to be associated with authenticity for two to three years. The soil meets the basic requirements of being free from the use of prohibited substances like synthetic chemicals, etc., for many years for the first time certification. And, a conventional farm must adhere to organic standards for this period.

Processing time – Processing time depends on operation history and compliance with certification standards and regulations. It takes about 2 years for annual crops and 3 years to certify perennial crops as organic.

Nutrition management in organic farming in Maharashtra

In organic farming, nutrition management is important to build healthy soil. Many methods such as green manure, manure, and bio-fertilizer can be used to increase soil fertility. These organic sources not only add a variety of soil nutrients but also help prevent weeds and increase soil organic matter. Lime-like soils are modified to adjust the pH balance of the soil. However, soil modification and water should contain at least heavy metals.

Most organic fertilizers used are recycled from products from other industries that would otherwise be wasted. Farmers also make compost from animal manure and mushroom manure. Before planting compost in the field, it is warm and aged for at least two months, reaching an internal temperature of 54-60°C and maintaining it to kill unwanted bacteria and grass seeds. Many organic fertilizers and the use of bacterial and fungal bio-fertilizers in organic farming depend on availability and crop suitability.

Organic manures – Commonly available and applied farmyard manure (FYM) and vermicomposting, etc., are generally low in nutrients, so higher application rates are required to meet the nutritional requirements of the crop. In many developing countries, including India, the organic fertilizer availability is not sufficient for crop needs; partly due to the widespread use of cattle dung in energy production. Green manuring with Sesbania, cowpea, and green gram, etc., is soothing to improve the organic matter content of the soil.

Weed management in organic farming

In organic farming, chemical herbicides cannot be used. So weeding can only be done manually. Different cultural methods such as farming, flooding, mulching can be used to manage weeds. In addition, biological (pathogenic) methods can be used to treat damage caused by weeds. To suppress weeds, a cover crop can be planted and improve soil quality. By drip irrigation weeds growth can be restricted whenever possible, limiting the distribution of water in the plant line.

Pests and diseases management for organic farming in Maharashtra

  • Good organic pest control and management include weed control, weed prevention, organic pest control, and plant disease control, all of which depend on approaches and techniques such as integrated pest management, biological control, environmental strategy, physical control, and shaded clothing.
  • Organic seeds – Seeds used on organic farms should be of traditional varieties or improved/selected varieties. In the latter case, the cost is lower in the first year and then nil, because the saved seeds are reproduced when re-planted. Their yield may be slightly lower than that of hybrid seeds. However, plants grown from hybrid seeds are prone to heavy pest attacks and, in addition, require reassurance and intensive irrigation. Thus, in the long run, they prove to be unsustainable.
  • Choose the best place and soil for the plants you are growing. This will reduce the pressure on plants and their susceptibility to diseases and pests.
  • Choose resistant plant species or varieties. Check seed packets and plant labels for pests and diseases and resistance. Seed-growing catalogues and websites will also list pests and diseases.
  • Handpick insects from plants – Hand-picked slugs, snails, caterpillars, large adult insects, egg mass; leave these insects in the soapy water. Shake off very small insects from plant leaves on a piece of paper and dispose of them.
  • Most insects can be controlled with relatively non-toxic sprays. A powerful spray of water from a garden hose is the easiest way to get rid of pests. Insecticidal Soaps, horticultural oils, and insecticides made from plant extracts such as neem, pyrethrum, etc., are natural alternatives to synthetic pesticides.

Government schemes for organic farming in Maharashtra

The agriculture department said that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) is implementing the National Program for Organic Production (NPOP). Then, the program includes approval of certification bodies, organic production promotion, organic farming, and marketing. Several schemes and policies have been launched by the Government of India to encourage organic farming. The Government of India provides support for the promotion of organic farming across the country; though under various schemes for encouraging recycling of crop residues for incorporation into the soil and use as fertilizer.

Supporting the promotion of organic farming with welfare schemes such as;

  • Prampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)
  • Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme (CISS) under SHM (Soil Health Management) Scheme
  • National Food Security Mission (NFSM)

1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks for the information about organic farming
    Please note I plan to do organic farming in my agriculture farm which is situated in Belgaum Karnataka
    Please let me the right govt offices wherein I can get support from department’s for organic farming
    Appreciate your reply on my mail id

    Thanks

    Regards
    Prakash Buchadi

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