Life Cycle Of Organic Farming
The Principal Aims Of Organic Farming as Expressed In IFOAM Standards
IFOAM - International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement
It is a democratic federation and grass roots oriented.
The main function of IFOAM is coordinating the network of organic movement around the world. IFOAM represents the organic movement internationally in parliamentary administrative and policy making forums. The federation has consultative status at the UN, and cooperates with many organizations. Through its worldwide network IFOAM links partners looking for cooperation in any area of organic agriculture. Through international outreach activities IFOAM gives the organic movement a voice and influence, which can no longer be ignored by those responsible for agricultural policy.
Principal Aims Of Organic Farming
The main principal aims for Organic Agriculture and processing are:
- To produce food of high nutritional quality in sufficient quantity.
- To interact in a constructive and life enhancing way with natural systems and cycles.
- To encourage and enhance biological cycles within the farming system, involving micro organisms, soil flora and fauna, plants and animals.
- To maintain and increase long term fertility of soils.
- To use as far as possible, renewable resources in locally organized agricultural systems.
- To work, as far as possible, with materials and substances which can be reused or recycled, either on the farm or elsewhere.
- To give all livestock living conditions which allow them to perform the basic aspects of their innate behavior.
- To minimize all forms of pollution that may result from agricultural practices.
- To maintain the genetic diversity of the agricultural systems and its surroundings, including the protection of plant and wildlife habitats.
- To allow everyone involved in organic production and processing a quality of life conforming to the UN human rights, to cover their basic needs and obtain an adequate return and satisfaction from their work, including a safe working environment.
- To consider the wider social and ecological impact of the farming system.
Organic farming methods and processes are based on sound science. Nonetheless, they were neglected by public research institutes until the mid-eighties. Most research in organic agriculture was done by private research institutes. Nowadays for example, almost every agricultural university runs a research department for organic agriculture. However, a lot of knowledge is still developed by on farm research and practice. Organic farming is increasingly accepted by the scientific community, although the organic agriculture movement is critical about the reductionist approach of classical science. Instead, the movement recognizes the complexity of farming systems and is working towards a better understanding of the dynamic interactions between soil, plants, animals and humans functioning in specific environments.
The Environmental and food quality benefits of organically produced food are not always immediately identifiable in the end product. If the consumer is to support organic production through purchasing decisions, then certain forms of identification are required. The bona fide producer also needs protection, otherwise what is to stop conventionally produced food being repackaged and sold as organic? A certification program is absolutely necessary when organic products are sold to an anonymous market.
Both consumer and producer interests are protected through certification program which consist of standards (rules), inspection (checking whether the rules are implemented) and certification (judgment). The certification programs vary per country or region because local conditions (environmental, climatic, social, and cultural) are different. Certification bodies (private or state run) should be committed, competent, transparent and independent. Farms, processings units and trade companies who are certified are allowed to market their products as â€œorganically producedâ€ and to use the label of the certification body as a guarantee of that claim.
When markets for organic products expand, governments start interventing with legislation to bring more control to the market. For example, the European Union has adopted Regulation No. 2092/91 on the organic production of agricultural products and foodstuffs, while the Codex Alimentarius Commission of the UN organizations WHO and FAO is working on guidelines for organic food production.
Organizing The Food Chain
Consumer confidence in organic products is primarily a result of direct links between organic farmers and consumers. Often it is farmers who take the first step in the development of a market for organic products. They raise awareness about organic farming and create a group of committed consumers around them, using many different forms of direct marketing: sale on farm, farmers markets, distribution systems based on mail order. Community supported agriculture in North America and Tekei in Japan show new ways in direct farmer consumer relationships. Many organic farmers develop processing activities on the farm such as milling, baking and cheese making in order to meet consumer's demands.
In most European countries the market for organic products is further developed through specialty shops, which are separate from mainstream food distribution. In Germany such as bio shops have created a network with a common logo which can be easily recognized and builds up consumer trust in the organic quality of foods they offer.
However, to grow out of today's niche of 1-2% share of the total food market (in Western Europe) organic products are now being channeled through the mainstream supermarkets. Denmark is a good example with 70% of certified organic foodstuffs sold in supermarkets. A booming development of the organic sector in this country is very much inspired by consumer demand.
In certain countries the major reason to pay a premium price for organically produced foods is care for the safeguard of the country side. In others, consumers concern for health pushes them to buy organic food. Neither of these reasons is more important than the others, because by purchasing organic products, consumers contribute simultaneously to both benefits. Let us not forget that the true costs of food have to include the â€œhiddenâ€ costs of social and environmental damage.
Organizing the food chain from farmer to consumer
Implementation Of Organic Agriculture In Middle East Countries
The farmers that they wish or have the intention to apply or practice the organic agriculture in virgin arable soil or already have been practicing the conventional chemical farming, those farmers should be aware of the rules and standards of organic farming method of production and the label that refers to the organic production.
Conversion Period Of Crop Production
Any farmer wish to start organic farming, he should follow the rules during the conversion period, from conventional chemical agriculture to organic agriculture, and the period of conversion is related to the soil pollution with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, mainly soil pesticides.
The minimum period according to conversion rules is two years before sowing or exploitation as feeding staff from organic farming, for pereminial crops or fruit trees, grapes, citrus. The conversion period is three years before the first harvest of products. The period of conversion starts at the date the farmers notified his activities and submit an application to the institution responsible of inspection and application of organic farming.
Virgin soil or soils not treated or polluted with chemicals not permitted or do not comply with IFOAM organic standards, these soils could be taken in consideration by the inspection authority or institution that represent IFOAM, the period three years could be reduced or canceled.
Guide Of Organic Standards
1-Fertility and fertilization
One of the main rules in soil fertility is to keep the biological activities of the soil by applying the following agricultural practices.
Most, if not all, the cultivated soil in Middle East countries have exhausted and depleted of carbon, organic matter and humus due to intensive farming and continuous usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the organic matter does not exceed 1%, no crop rotation, no animal manure, pH is over 8, soil salinity is high mainly in greenhouses and most soils are calcareous need organic matter and humic acid to be applied yearly, mainly in hot climate region; the preferable manure to these soils is the natural dehydrated, fermented and disinfected goat manure.
These soils need soil amendments rich in humus, organic matter, humic and fulvic acid for humification and mineralization to increase the carbon, ion and cation exchange, biological activities, dissolve the calcium carbonate, decrease pH to 5.5 - 6.5 to free the microelements to be assimilated by plants, mainly iron, manganese, zinc and sulfur.
The main soil amendment comply with the organic standard is the biotreated natural dehydrated and bio-disinfected goat manure. BOVISOL powder and liquid, BOVIPLUS enriched with needed minerals. BIOFOLIAR liquid foliar fertilizer applied on vegetative growth - foliar.