Key words : Organic livestock production, Organic standards, Traditional practices, India,


       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




      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.


       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


       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.


       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.
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
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
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

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%

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,

 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

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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