Human beings are the creation of nature and form a part of it, themselves. But people are being more materialistic for their own benefits without caring for their beautiful home, the earth. There are unhealthy rivalries for individual benefits and we have stopped thinking about the fact that the origin of these commodities lies in nature. Urbanisation, industrialisation and the infrastructure of development have led to the rapid loss of agricultural land. The world’s population, which is rapidly increasing, will suffer from this loss. To increase the supply of agriculture production, new technology is being used. This includes genetic modification, chemical fertilisers and synthetic pesticides in agriculture. The use of chemicals provides instant benefits but in long run these chemicals destroy the production capacity of the soil. They also negatively impact the lives of human beings, and lead to other environmental problems. At the same time the genetic modification of food is also decimating the natural variety of plants.
Organic agriculture means agricultural systems that promote the environmentally, socially and economically sound production of food. By respecting the natural capacity of plants, animals and local conditions, it aims to optimise quality in all aspects of agriculture and the environment. Organic farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides or fertilisers. Organic agriculture is growing throughout the world. About 25 million hectares of land is covered by certified organic agriculture farms and their number is gradually growing all over the world. Less food and drinking water contamination is the main advantage of organic agriculture. Safer working conditions is another advantage. Farm workers actually die due to the mishandling of pesticides, especially in developing countries. Organic production has the potential to produce sufficient food of high quality. Organic agriculture is particularly well suited for rural communities currently exposed to food shortages.
In Nepal, modern technology has been implemented in the field of agriculture. It has a history of using chemical fertilisers and pesticides for the last 35 years for higher agriculture production yields. Because the use of these chemicals has been curtailed by the lack of developmental infrastructure in place to support it, it could not spread out all over the country. Because of this, farmers of Nepal are still far from all the negative environmental effects of the conventional method. The promotion of conventional farming techniques causes the soil to die day by day, as well as the more obvious problem of produce contamination. For example, before the use of chemical fertilisers, the quality of rice was very high and full of flavour. While cooking rice in a kitchen all the surrounding areas would be full of the aroma. With the use of fertiliser, the quality of rice has deteriorated. Similarly, the use of chemicals in agriculture has been decreasing the quality of our food. Due to the use of conventional fertiliser all agriculture products are being contaminated. It is time to act else it would be late. We must not think of agriculture with a commercial mind, viewing it for our individual benefit. Therefore, by properly utilising natural resources, which are gifts of nature, we should be able to produce high quality agricultural products while compensating for nature. The only way we can save our planet is through sustainable organic agriculture.
(Ramesh Nath Sharma is executive director of the Sustainable Agriculture Development Program — Nepal)