According to IFOAM, “Organic Agriculture is 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 good quality of life for all involved.”
As organic agriculture has more reliance on the use of natural resources as a step to meet sustainable development goals like zero hunger and good health and wellbeing, it is most suitable for developing nations like Nepal to adopt organic farming system. It uses indigenous and traditional knowledge in farming with some selected modern technologies to manage and enhance diversity, to incorporate biological principles and to ecologically increase agricultural productivity. Adopting organic agriculture farmers will get a chance to confront new technologies and innovate. This brings new opportunities of employment and helps in upliftment of economy. So, emphasis on use of local resources and self-reliance is a need of our nation and adoption of organic farming definitely contributes to empowerment of farmers and local communities.
Here are some of the points on future possibilities and on why organic agriculture is important in Nepal:
- Geographical advantage: Organic production is feasible throughout the country as Nepal has diverse geography with lots of possibilities. The traditional method followed by farmers do not need any major adjustments for organic farming. Organic seed production, vegetable production, fruit production and various agronomic crops production is suitable in diverse condition of soil, climate and topography of Nepal. So, geographical advantage can be a reason for adoption of organic agriculture in Nepal.
- Environmentally safe: Organic agriculture includes production practices which avoids use of agro-chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, growth hormones, etc. Thus, the adoption of organic farming sustains the health of soil, ecosystem and human at local condition remaining under The Principle of Ecology. As seen in Conventional agriculture, farmers use chemicals to control weeds, increase productivity, control insect pest which in long run has adverse effects on soil fertility, plant and human health. This adverse effect is never found in organic farming and makes environment safe. Organic agriculture thus should be encouraged among Nepalese farmers.
- Biodiversity conservation: Agriculture itself is a major component of biodiversity where regenerative organic farming makes biodiversity conservation possible at a great extent. It incorporates a rich mixture of biodiversity where micro-organisms, insects, plants and animals are left undisturbed in their natural habitat to create natural healthy soil with high fertility, strong crop growth and resilient ecosystem. In this regard, Organic agriculture has huge importance in the conservation of Nepalese biodiversity.
- Healthy food: According to The Principle of Health, the role of organic agriculture, whether in farming, processing, distribution, or consumption, is to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings. And organic agriculture avoids the use of fertilizers, pesticides, any chemicals or food additives so produce nutritious, safe and healthy food of high quality. Therefore, organic agriculture reflects its need to produce healthy food in the nation to ensure overall physical, mental, emotional and ecological wellbeing
- Use of indigenous and traditional knowledge: Some of the indigenous and traditional agricultural practices followed by Nepalese farmers such as agroforestry system, diversified farming system, multiple cropping, crop rotation, water harvesting etc. are easily adopted by the principles of organic agriculture throughout the globe. Use of such knowledge and practices provide benefit to Nepalese farmers by reducing the cost of production input. Also, it includes preservation of various indigenous, underutilized, neglected crops, local landraces and breeds of Nepal which increases the biodiversity. Thus, the use of indigenous and traditional knowledge increases possibility of organic agriculture and in return organic agricultural practices preserve the indigenous beauty.
- Employment opportunity: Organic farming requires more labour input than traditional and modern farming methods. Thus, Nepal which has a very large amount of labour unemployment and under employment will find organic farming an attraction. Moreover, the problem of periodical unemployment will also get mitigated because of the diversification of the crops with their different planting and harvesting schedules which results to the requirement of a relatively high labour input. Nepalese small holders and subsistence farmers are highly benefited through such employment opportunities.
- Development of eco-tourism: Eco-tourism is increasingly becoming popular and organic farm could turn into one favourite spot for the visitors. Protection of the ecosystem, flora, fauna and increased biodiversity and the resulting benefits to all human and living things are great advantages of organic farming which are highly attractive. So, organic agriculture is important from the prospective of developing and promoting eco-tourism in Nepal as well.
- Increasing demand of organic products: In Nepal, people who are aware of the health benefits of organic products are increasing day by day. And the dissemination of knowledge on this is still expanding from person to person. This has created attraction in people towards organic products which are healthy, safe and of good quality. Thus, increasing awareness has created increased demand of organic products in the market.
- Food security: In organic agriculture, variety of crops and animals are integrated to optimize competition for nutrients and space, this makes low chances for less production. This has an important impact on local food security and resilience. Also, FAO has demonstrated that organic agriculture has potential of food security in terms of food availability, access to food, stability of food supply systems and food utilization at any level thus, it can feed the whole world. Hence, organic agriculture as a basis for provision of healthy food for all is very essential in Nepal.
- Sustainability: Organic agricultural practices aim increased productivity, profitability, employment opportunities which is an economical sustainable approach. Along with this, it focuses on conservation of natural resources and biodiversity so as to meet ecological sustainability. Also, organic agriculture encompasses practices of using indigenous knowledge, focus on inclusiveness and fair participation, food security and sovereignty as practice to achieve social sustainability. Thus. Organic agriculture is important in Nepal as it primarily focuses on meeting the needs of people at present and of future generation without disturbing the ecological and social balance.
All above-mentioned points highlight the need of organic agriculture in Nepal. As Nepal is a developing nation where majority of farmers are from rural Nepal and have subsistence farm, organic agriculture could be an opportunity for them to learn, innovate and employ. Organic agriculture uses indigenous knowledge which assists marginal farmers of Nepal with the cost of production to great extent and also promotes and preserves the cultivation of underutilized crops using indigenous practices like agroforestry system, multiple cropping, diversified cropping system, crop rotation etc. Adoption of organic farming is therefore essential and has future potential to produce healthy and nutritious food meeting sustainability in agriculture sector of Nepal.