FARMERS’ EXISTING LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION PRACTICES IN RELATION TO ORGANIC PRODUCTION STANDARDS: AN INDIAN STUDY* PRABIR KR PATHAK & MAHESH CHANDER DIVISION OF EXTENSION EDUCATION INDIAN VETERINARY RESEARCH INSTITUTE, IZATNAGAR-243 122 (UP) INDIA Key words : Organic livestock production, Organic standards, Traditional practices, India, Comparison ABSTRACT Organic production is picking up rapidly in developed world but in developing countries of Asia it is in very early stages, especially, organic livestock production has not yet taken off in many countries including India. The existing production practices of farmers in these countries are by and large traditional in nature. The low level of external inputs used, bring the production system closer to organic production systems than the input intensive conventional production systems prominent in many developed countries. With this assumption, a small study involving 100 respondents was undertaken using semi-structured interview schedule to collect data, during 2001-2002. The interview schedule contained questions based on Indian National Standards for organic livestock production, which is more or less similar to IFOAM (International Federation for Organic Agriculture Movements) standards. The study revealed that farmers’ production practices were organic to the extent of 75 percent yet the farmers would not qualify for organic production, as some of the basic requirements like keeping farm records, feeding adequate green roughage, etc., were not met. However, results of this study indicate that with a little bit of training and the availability of a market for such products this situation would improve PAPER PRESENTED IN “NATIONAL WORKSHOP ON ORGANIC ANIMAL HUSBANDRY STANDARDS, IVRI, IZATNAGAR, 26-27 NOVEMBER, 2002 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org INTRODUCTION Organic production, processing, marketing and trade are a growing reality all over the world. The developing countries especially in Asia too are trying to catch up with the developments in the developed world, as far as the adherence to the organic production standards is concerned. Since, the existing production practices of the farmers in many of these countries are traditional in nature, level of external inputs use are very low, their practice are more closer to organic production systems, compared to input intensive conventional production systems. This scenario makes favourable environment for conversion to organic production systems. The current global market for organic products is US$21 billion (ITC, 2002). The Asian countries like China, South Korea, India, Srilanka, Indonesia are producing and also exporting organic tea, coffee, vegetables, legumes, rice, fruits, cotton, spices, herbs and processed foods (UNCTAD, 1996; ITC, 1999; Singh, 2001). As far as organic livestock sector is concerned, there is less growth in comparison with organic crop sector. Whereas, developing countries enjoy a comparative advantage over the developed countries as the existing practices are more or less organic in nature. Many developing countries including India now have developed National Standards for Organic Production (NPOP, 2000) on the lines of standards developed by IFOAM. These standards have not yet percolated down to the level of extension workers and farmers mainly due to weak domestic market for organic products in these countries. The export demand, however, may fuel the growth of organic sector in future. The potential for export of livestock products especially to developed countries currently is restricted due to quality considerations and certain diseases as also the huge production surpluses in developed countries. Organic production offers an opportunity to developing countries whereby they can push their products to earn much-needed foreign exchange. At the moment, there are many obstacles to organic production in developing countries, of which lack of domestic market being number one followed by lack of trained inspectors and certifying agencies, low level of awareness, poorly equipped extension personnel on sustainable organic agriculture practices, lack of government support, etc., (Chander, 1996). The scenario may change given the rapid developments taking place in this area mainly due to the initiatives taken by the NGOs and now by the governmental agencies as well. The subsistence Indian farmers may not find it difficult to convert to organic farming if the domestic and export demand grow for organic products. With this assumption, a study was conducted with the specific objective to compare the existing livestock production practices with the prescribed organic production standards. MATERIALS AND METHODS A field survey of 100 randomly selected farmers was carried out during 2001-2002 in Bankura district of West Bengal state in India (22 038'N - 23038'N and 86036'E - 87046'E). The farmers were mostly small and marginal farmers (<2 hectare of land) following crop livestock mixed farming systems. An interview schedule was developed in congruence with the organic animal husbandry standards developed by Government of India on the lines of IFOAM international standards for organic production. The farmers were interviewed on their farms about the production practices they follow. The researcher’s observation with respect to organic production standards were also recorded. The aim was to find out the deviations in practices followed by the farmers with that of the prescribed standards. An arbitrary method of scaling was followed to quantify the deviations in production practices. To quantify the organic animal husbandry practices followed by the respondents, the overall response regarding each practice was put on a 3-point continuum. Practices which closely followed the organic standards (within 20% limit) graded with 2 points, practices which are opposite to the prescribed standards (within 20% limit) graded with 0 point, practices in between these two were graded with 1 point. As for example - According to Indian organic standards, reproduction technique should be natural service instead of Artificial Insemination (A.I.) So, if 80-100 percent farmers follow natural service, grade point will be 2, If, 21-79 percent farmers follow natural service grade point will be 1 and, if, 0-20 percent farmers follow natural service grade point will be 0, As such, overall score for all practices was calculated and presented in terms of percentage of the maximum possible score. Maximum possible score = Number of practices compared x 2 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Farmers were interviewed for production practices to find out the extent of organic practices being followed by them. The responses were collected and tabulated. The comparison of prescribed standards and practices followed by the farmers are given in the table below (Table-1). The results show that the practices of Indian farmers in terms of organic standards fetched 45 points. Whereas, the maximum possible point could be 60, when all compared practices will be perfectly organic. So, in terms of percentage, the practices of livestock owners of study area were 75 percent (45/60 x 100 = 75) organic. Ironically, even with 75 percent of organic practices followed, the farmers of study area would not qualify as organic livestock producers, since, some of the important principles of organic livestock production were not taken care of. For example, in case of feeding, though most of the farmers (61%) fed their animals adequately but the source of feed was not organic in any case. This is the single most important factor which alone can disqualify the farmers’ claim to be called ‘organic’. Moreover, no farmer cultivated fodder crops and the animals mainly thrived on crop residues, which were not free from chemical fertilizers and/or chemical pesticides as the farmers used these in their crop fields. Similarly, the stocking rate in the study area was fairly high (3.99 cattle equivalent per hectare) in comparison to EU regulation 1804/1999, which is 170 kg/ha (Schmid, 2000). According to the standards of organic livestock production, keeping of farm records is one essential requirement. Though the memory of Indian farmers in respect of inputs used and outputs obtained is quite amazing but they significantly failed to keep written records and none of them use to keep any farm records. The farming practices, particularly the livestock farming is not yet looked as an industry by Indian farmer, so they do not find any use of keeping records. Moreover, low level of literacy could be the another factor for not maintaining the written production records. CONCLUSION The animal husbandry practices of the farmers in study area, which are traditional one, in 75 percent cases matched with that of prescribed animal husbandry standards under organic production management. But this closeness to organic practices is not by choice rather by default. There was no conscious effort on the part of farmers to rear livestock as per organic standards. In fact, the most of the Indian farmers were not even aware of the organic concept ‘per se’. It is quite evident that conventional farming, as it has been practiced in the last decades, is becoming less competitive. In coming years, conventional farming will become more and more expensive owing to increasing cost of production with increasing doses of inputs. So, as an alternative, it is likely that some farmers will turn to organic farming as it is being considered as the sustainable form of agriculture and animal husbandry. To bridge the gap between existing status and organic status, the most important areas where policy initiatives need to be taken are: (a) Improvisation of Organic standards: The present standards for organic production, which are based on IFOAM- Basic Standards, should be modified according to regional agro- climatic conditions. (b) Development of Regional Standards: To bridge the gap between the National and International standards Regional standards should be developed to promote the marketing of organic products within the region. (c) Establishment of a low cost certification agency that small farmers can afford. (d) Development of a strong domestic market : Without a developed domestic market, the interest of producers can’t be protected as international markets are always fluctuating. The domestic consumers often pay for quality products. For instance, the meat consumers in urban areas of India ofen pay 70-80 percent more price for free-range poultry meat and eggs (Pathak and Chander, 2001), which is a fair indicator of their willingness to pay more for quality products. (e) Establishment of a ‘Growth Center’ for organic production: Some potential areas of the country (hilly areas, forest areas, rain fed areas), where agriculture is not so well developed, should be identified and some nodal agencies should be established. These agencies will provide the technical support to the farmers, will make arrangement for certification and will help in marketing. The success of these areas will be a model to the rest of the countries for promotion of organic farming. (f) Research and development: Organic farming needs extensive research and development efforts in order to apply the relevant knowledge and improve its performance. Universities and research centers should start research programme together with farmers. Organic farming is knowledge intensive rather than being input intensive, hence, efforts are needed to raise awareness about this emerging system of sustainable agricultural production. (g) Training and extension should be provided to all categories of stakeholders. (h) Governments have to make legislation in order to ensure the much-needed regulatory framework, where all stakeholders can play on a fair level ground. REFERENCES UNCTAD (1996). Report on organic production in developing countries: potential for trade, environmental improvement and social development - A report by the UNCTAD Secretariat. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Geneva, Switzerland. NPOP (2000). National Programme for Organic Production containing the standards for the organic products. Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Govt. of India. Singh, R.V. (2001). Untapped potential, Down to earth, 10: 34-41. Chander, M. (1996). Organic farming: Implications for rural extension services. In: New Research in Organic Agriculture (Ed. N.H. Kristensen and H. Hogh-Jensen). Proceedings of the 11th IFOAM International Scientific Conference, Vol. 2, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, Tholey-Tholey, Germany, 144-149. Schmid, O. (2000). A comparison of organic production standards. Proceedings of the second NAHWOA Workshop, Cordoba, Spain, January 9-11. Pathak, P.K. and Chander, M. (2001). Awareness of organic livestock production at farmers’ level: A study in two North Indian villages. Proceedings of 5th IFOAM-Asia Scientific Conference, Hangzhou City, China, October 31 - November 4. Table 1 : Comparison of Farmer’s practices with organic animal husbandry standards. Sl. Practices What standards What farmers Score No. say followed obtained 1. Land holding Landless animal husbandry 97% farmers had land with 2 not allowed an average of 1.02±0.08 ha 2. Farm diversification Farm should be diversified All the farmers kept some 2 with respect to animals also, animals besides agriculture. Monocropping is discouraged With respect to animals 87% farmers kept more than one species of livestock and 64% farmers kept 3 or more than 3 species. 3. Free movement of There should be access to 96% of livestock owners 2 animals sufficient free movement provided ample access of free movement to their animals 4. Provision of fresh Sufficient fresh air and natural All the farmers provided natural 2 air and natural day daylight according to the needs daylight and fresh air to their light of the animals should be animals, as there was no provided environment controlled house. 5. Protection against Animals should be protected 97% farmers provided any 2 adverse weather against adverse weather kind of shed for protection condition condition against excessive sun light or rain. All farmers provided either wallowing, cold water, or ventilated sheds to protect against high temperature. 6. Resting area Enough lying and/or resting 93% farmers provided 2 area according to the needs sufficient resting/lying of the animal. area. 7. Use of bedding For all animals requiring Only 4% provided any 0 material bedding materials, shall be bedding material to provided animals. 8. Drinking water Ample access to fresh water All farmers provided sufficient 1 according to the needs of water but 61% provided the animals water from wells and/or tubewells, which could be taken as fresh for Indian condition. 9. Expression of Adequate facilities for 80% farmer kept their animals 2 natural behaviour expression of behaviour in in flock with ample excess accordance with the biological to free movement for all and ethological needs of the animals, practices like species. weaning, artificial brooding, artificial insemination were not followed by farmers. So, animals can express their natural behaviour pattern. 10. Grazing All animals shall have access 99% farmers provided 2 to open air and/or grazing grazing to their animals. appropriate to the type of animal and season taking into account their age and condition. 11. Mutilation Mutilations are not allowed. 64% farmer performed 2 However, the certification castration and/or 4% farmer programme shall allow the performed ringing. No exception like castration, farmers followed any other dehorning, ringing, tail mutilation practices. docking of lambs and mulesing. 12. Origin of animals All the organic animals should As no farm in the study area 1 be born and raised on the was organic, so ignoring the organic holding. However, organic criteria, it was when organic livestock is observed that in 18% farms not available, animals could the stock was borned within be brought from conventional the farm and in another 80% farm at certain age. farm some borned & some were purchased, the purchase was mostly to replace the old stock. The place of purchase was within the region for 70% animals. 13. Source of breeding Breeding stock may be brought Females were within the farm 2 stock in from conventional farm. A but males were from local yearly maximum of 10% of area for 100% farmers. the adult animals of the same species on the farm. 14. Breeds Breeds should be chosen About 96% farmers kept 2 which are adapted to local ‘desi’ (local) breeds for all condition. animals. 15. Reproduction Reproduction technique All farmers follow natural 2 technique should be natural service. 16. Use of high Breeding shall not include No farmer used these 2 technological and high technological & capital techniques. capital intensive intensive methods like, methods like, embryo transfer, heat embryo transfer, synchronization, use of heat synchronization, genetically engineered species use of genetically etc. engineered species, etc. 17. Adequate feeding Animals should be fed Only 61% farmer fed the 1 adequately with balanced animals adequately & there diet in a form allowing them was doubt about the diet to execute their natural whether balanced or not. feeding behaviour and digestive needs. 18. Feed Livestock should be fed 100% No organically grown feed 0 organically grown feed of was available. good quality. If, certain feeds are not available then 10-20% conventional feeds are allowed. 19. Source of feed All feed shall come from farm What farmers fed to animals, 2 itself or be produced within about 80% came from own the region. farm, 10% from neighbour’s farm and 10% from market. 20. Cultivation of No specific standard but say No farmers cultivated fodder. 0 fodder all animals shall have daily access to roughage. 21. Use of synthetic These should not be used. No one used these substances. 2 growth promoter or stimulants, synthetic appetizer, preservatives, colouring agents, urea, farm animal by products to ruminants, animal manure or droppings, solvent extracted feed, pure amino acids, genetically engineered organisms. 22. Treatment for sick Sick and injured animals shall Though 90% of farmers used 1 and injured animals be given prompt & adequate to given prompt treatment treatment. but as 60 of the farmers sought the help of ojhas, the adequacy of treatment is questionable. 23. Type of treatment Natural medicines and 50% farmers provided 1 methods, including homeopathy traditional treatment, 4% ayurvedic medicine and provided homeopathic and acupuncture, shall be 46% provided allopathic emphasized. treatment. 24. Vaccination Vaccine shall be used only 73% farmers used vaccine 1 when diseases are known or in cattle and 20% in poultry expected to be a problem in regularly. Most of the farmers the region of the farm and did not use any vaccine. As where these diseases can disease outbreak was reported not be controlled by other in the area, non-vaccination management techniques. is not against organic principles. So, the farmers are midway of standards. 25. Use of hormone No hormone should be used, Only 6% farmers used 2 except for treatment of oxytocin for let down of individual animal. milk. 26. Record keeping All records of the farm in No farmer kept record of 0 details including the receipts farm input, outputs or of should be kept. treatment of animals. 27. Use of draft animal Draft animals must be well Use of draft animals was 1 cared, must be used in a almost humane by most of humane manner that cause the farmers but 19% farmers least possible stress and said they sometimes beat suffering. There should be their animals and/or 7% maximum and minimum farmers overloaded them. age, no over work or overloading. 28. Use of child labour No child labour should be Only 6% farmers used child 2 used. labour. 29. Equality of wages No discrimination irrespective There was no inequality of 2 of colour creed and gender wages. for same work. 30. Use of farm yard Manure should be used in 72% farmers used manure 2 manure crop field after proper in field and 19% used it in treatment. biogas.
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