The Organic Way

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The ICAR-National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS&LUP) has identified areas in our country that hold high potential for organic farming. This literally works very well as a ground rule for HERD Organic Farms because the fact is that as per the geo-spatial digital map showing organic carbon stock in the soils of all states, this region of Maharashtra is indeed good for natural organic farming.

HERD Organic Farms is keen to facilitate and dedicate efforts for organic agriculture. The farm team collaborates in the organic processes for cultivation of crops, production of organic manure, undertaking crop rotation, product selection and dissemination of organic farming methods. Farm hands are taught to learn and adopt organic farming techniques, production of green/ organic manure, and use of natural pesticides and herbicides.

The past three years have seen HERD Organic Farms emerge as a trusted source for organic food. With up-to-date documentation on sustainable agriculture practice and soil health, the farm team, led by farm manager Mr Anil Khare, collaborate with organic farming practitioners and academic fraternity to fill gaps in our knowledge. HOF envisions improved health for the soil and its people with due conversion of organic agricultural methodologies.

Operations had begun in March 2015 with the aim to create a model-farm to act as a teaching-learning center for organic farming. In time we hope to scale up efforts to become an example to be followed by farmers in the region. We hope to inspire particularly those farmers who remain uncertain or unconvinced about the concept. We want them to look upon organic farming as a viable venture. It is hoped that they would eventually be persuaded to go the organic way.

Our goal is really to contribute to healthy living for everyone. This is why our major focus is on developing and nurturing in-house organic components so as to strengthen the concept of creating a model organic farm in the region.  With the emphasis on using cost effective methods for organic farming, we also use high-tech innovative ideas on the farm.

We take every opportunity to spread awareness of the benefits of organic produce and the dire consequences of eating unhealthy chemical laden foods. On the farmland we make our own manure and pesticides in a bid to retain soil health. We also ensure organic health of pollinator populations. Our home grown organic pesticides do not have impacts on pollinator health. In fact the diverse food crops benefit such pollinators with increase in food sources.

Actually the organic inputs prevent soil pathogen and keep the soil health in perfect order as proven by the soil tests we undertook. HERD Organic Farms continues to collaborate with the organic growers community to help ensure that the unique realities of organic farmers are better understood and considered by the larger fraternity and possibly to influence the future of organic farming in the region.

We keep intensifying our efforts to benefit both the land and the people. We truly believe the words of Anna Lappé, author and educator – “When we fight for organic food, it connects us to every living creature on the planet, from birds to frogs and pollinators—all those harmed by toxic pesticides”. We look ahead to another year of increased organic produce.

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Ensuring Organic Futures

 

 

Organic Farming is spreading like a revolution not only in our country but in the entire world today. In fact the roots of revival of organic farming can be traced back to India! It was Albert Howard and his wife Gabrielle Howard, both skillful botanists, who founded the Institute of Plant Industry at Indore to improve traditional farming methods in pre-independent India.

Working with local farmers they found they had much to learn from them. And so it was that alongside scientific knowledge they incorporated local traditional methods like crop rotation practices, erosion prevention techniques, and use of composts and manures. Upon return to Britain they carried back these experiences to propagate natural agriculture. Albert Howard is one of the key founders of modern organic agriculture.

Consumer’s today are increasingly getting health cautious regarding their diet. This is an important aspect for transformation of farming practices to benefit the land and the people. Organic food produce having high nutritive value and absence of chemicals, potential carcinogenic and mutagenic properties is preferred over conventional agroproducts cultivated by using insecticides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Realizing the high potential of organic farming techniques for the land and its people, HERD Organic Farms was established in March 2015. HOF is practicing organic farming techniques over the past three years on its 40 acres farmland located at village Chargaon, 60 kms from Nagpur city. The ultimate aim of the enterprise is to extend knowledge of organic cultivation practices to benefit neighboring rural farmers in a bid to spread awareness and increase organic food production. It is also to build a momentum for the demand of organic produce.

With gaining popularity of organic produce and a steady buildup of a consumer base willing to pay a premium price, it is important to extend the cost advantage for the benefit of conventional agriculturists. HOF therefore hopes to develop a farming community that adopts organic farming on a mass scale to target niche markets for organic food produce.

Realizing the need to improve the health of the land and the people, HOF joined hands to become part of organic grower’s fraternity in Nagpur city.  Eventually the plan is to scale up a cooperative of organic farmers to facilitate organic food production and processing for supply to existing markets. It is hoped that with due expansion adjoining rural farmers may be included for propagation of organic farming.

HERD Organic Farms was established to promote a system of farming without use of synthetic fertilizers or chemical sprays. It was envisioned right from the start to maintain soil fertility through livestock compost, green manures, crop rotation, and mulching. Setting up cutting-edge net-shed cultivation alongside open field agriculture, we aim for methods that are sustainable and ecological to ensure long-term fertility and wholesome food for us and for future generations.

We remain committed to organic practices to safeguard human health and the environment. To achieve this we need to change mindsets to introduce the philosophy and practice of organic farming. This is what motivates us to step up awareness for organic produce to create a world that will sustain life. We will continue to maintain the soil health of our unique planet.

In order to go about doing this we need to develop ongoing relationships between ourselves as organic growers and the economic system. One of the major challenges till date is fixing premium pricing for organic produce vis-à-vis chemically laced food. We still need to develop farming systems that produce the necessary quantity and quality of food so that we make it economically viable for all. For in all certainty organic farming is the future.

Agony & Ecstasy of Organic Farming

HERD Organic Farms (HOF) has been working on organic farming practices right from day one. Knowing full well about the hazards caused by chemical-based farming, HOF was all prepared to face the distress of diminished production, lengthy transition period and unavailability of ready market. The grim picture did not discourage the team that went on ahead to rally around teething problems of organic farming. Tiding over the hindrances in organic farming the team worked with due diligence and relentless efforts to promote organic farming production.

The team pushed forward even as the fear of less production and unavailability of a premium market loomed large. It was a sense of inner conviction that had HOF promoting its organic produce and it has been a real struggle to survive in the face of the wider non-organic market. Joining hands with other organic growers who banded themselves under a common group, the intention became to make people aware of the positive health benefits of organic produce and to cull out a consumer clientele keen on demanding organic fruits and vegetables.

Approximately 42 acres of farmland spreading around the periphery of buffer areas of the Pench forests is marked out for phased organic cultivation. As of now vegetables are being grown under half-acre covered net structures with complete organic inputs. The team headed by Mr Anil Khare has also created a small open-structured radial vegetable garden that can grow up to 15 kinds of different vegetables within its circular layout. This well-laid out round plot of land includes rows of beds of flowers, fruits and vegetables that are grown with organic fertilizers and pesticides. It is a delightful spot.

HOF organic produce is free from pesticides and insecticides and absolutely safe for healthy eating. It may not be wrong to suggest that you could pluck cucumbers and tomatoes right off the plants and eat them straight away. They are that uncontaminated and this is also because the region is cut off from the main road and still pretty pristine. The monsoons made it clear that the area can also get disconnected a brief way from the road in case of heavy showers, making it challenging to commute to and fro.

HOF has been motivating the surrounding local farmers settled in the nearby Chargaon village to adopt organic farming methods. Majority of the farmers are following suit. The team felt that spreading awareness and creating a hub for organic farming would be an appropriate measure to promote organic farming in this region. Despite having earlier used chemical inputs to increase production several farmers are now joining hands for the more arduous task of following organic farming practices.

Farm manager Anil Khare feels that there is a need of cohesive efforts from all angles for promoting organic farming. Decidedly a disturbed rain cycle has added to the farmers’ woes and therefore better water management becomes the number one priority. Next, it would be fruitful to move away from mono-cultures in which crops are farmed in single-species plots. This is why HOF is now venturing into crop rotations and mixed planting that is a better alternative for conserving soil and enhancing environmental conditions.

HERD Organic Farms is currently following its well chalked-out and unambiguous directives for sustained organic farming practices. Working on both financial and technical provisions for the planned outcomes, the team is well aware that mere regulated inputs will not be enough to garner desired output. The path to organic farming is tough and it is definitely a more demanding occupation than conventional farming, that itself is so grueling.

HOF prepares and uses bio-fertilizers and bio pesticides to enrich the soil. The team is attentive in application of composts/organic manure that is produced right on the farm. Appropriate infrastructure has been set up for organic matter to be duly processed and prepared. These operations are of course quite labour intensive and costly as well. HERD Organic Farm is committed to gain the desired results by working every step of the way to enhance organic cultivation. These initial years will be tough and despite loss in yield and lack of fluid marketing processes the team presses on, on its chosen track.