Biojournal of Science and Technology
Volume 5, ISSN:2410-9754, Article ID: m170003

Research Article

Organic Farming – A paramount agro-ecological practice amongst the Buddhist tribe in Kabban-Padder, Greater Himalaya, India

Harish Chander Dutt1, Shevita Pandita1, Nawang Tashi1, Jayanthi Palaniyappan2, Atanu Bhattacharyya3

Date of Acceptance: 2017/05/10
Published in Online: 2017/07/10

1Department of Botany, University of Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, India. 2 Department of Environmental Science, Periyar University, Periyar Palkalai Nagar, Salem – 636011, Tamil Nadu, India. 3Nanotechnology Section, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology and Research Centre, Cholanagar, R.T. Nagar Post, Hebbal, Bangalore-560 032, India.
Address Correspond to:
Atanu Bhattacharyya Nanotechnology Section, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology, RT Nagar, Hebbal, Bangalore – 560 032, India E-mail: [email protected]

Academic editor: Editor-in-Chief

To Cite This Article:
Harish Chander Dutt, Shevita Pandita, Nawang Tashi, Jayanthi Palaniyappan, Atanu Bhattacharyya*. Organic Farming - A paramount agro-ecological practice amongst the Buddhist tribe in Kabban-Padder, Greater Himalaya, India. Biojournal of Science and Technology.Vol:5,2017

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Abstract

A survey was conducted with limited resource farmers and non-farmers in Kabban valley of Greater Himalaya at Padder region of the Jammu and Kashmir State, India to identify their knowledge, practices, perceptions and needs regarding organic farming. The respondents both male and female (68.29% + 31.70%) are classified into two classes (a) those who rear livestock as well as practicize agriculture i.e., farmers and (b) those who rear livestock only i.e., non-farmers. Out of the 82 respondents 95% have sufficient farming experiences, however, 4.87% lack technical knowledge about the farming. In accordance with the age grouping, most active age group has also been identified for both the farming and non-farming activities. Respondents knowingly or unknowingly do the organic farming and it has been seen that choice of the crops under cultivation is always the priority of the farmers. The major produce in the area are peas, cereals (barley, oats and wheat), potato and cabbage. Farmers of this region having strong knowledge of organic farming, use organic resources i.e., cow dung without knowing the fact that organic crops resulting by this practice are of high quality, rich in nutrients, high nutraceutical values and of high cost because of their safe nature.

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Content Section

INTRODUCTION

During the past decades, agricultural production has increased rapidly mainly because of breeding, nutrients inputs, effective crop protection measures, and innovative soil cultivation practices (Tilmanet al., 2002). A new era has been started in the production world called as “organic farming”. India is known as the land of agriculture, wherein 70% of the total economy is based on agriculture and agricultural products. Consumers demands for organic products in Jammu and Kashmir, India is not so high, whereas at global level the demand of the organic farm products has been raised significantly because people are becoming more conscious about their health as well as the quality of the environment in which the food is produced (EUFIC 2013; Shafie and Rennie 2012). However, anthropogenic activities like poor agriculture practices has altered and degraded the agri-ecosystem up to an extent that resilience for its stability is almost difficult. A team of 18 international researchers has concluded that around 04 of the 09 planetary boundaries (i) climate change, (ii) loss of biosphere integrity (biodiversity loss, species extinction), (iii) change in land use pattern (e.g. deforestation), and (iv) altered biogeochemical cycles (phosphorus and nitrogen) all related to human-induced changes in the environment are now crossed (Rockström et al., 2015).  On the other hand several International Organizations like FAO and IFOAM have set qualitative goals for the development of organic food systems. In this direction European Commission (EC) has also initiated mainly on qualitative characterization of food systems wherein goals are set in conjunction with public procurement processes (Bouveret al.,2006; Commission of European Communities 2008).

Organic farming is the only key suggested by the scientist all over the world for archiving the set qualitative goals. Therefore, many countries are converting their routine agriculture fields into the organic farms e.g. 25% organic farming in Finland (YM, 2005). In addition, many indicators for the preferences over the organic farming are also enumerated e.g. good sensory quality (Asioli et al., 2012, 2014, Gilsenan et al., 2012; Zagata 2012), environmentally friendly behavior (Kalogeras et al., 2009, Krystallis et al., 2008, 2012, Wiedmann et al., 2014, Padilla et al., 2013), having a positive impact on human health (Botonaki et al., 2006; Chakrabarti 2010; Dean et al., 2008; Gottschalk and Leistner 2013; Kareklas et al., 2014; Lee and Goudeau 2014; Van Loo et al., 2013), the ethical value  (Padilla Bravo et al., 2013; Gottschalk and Leistner 2013; Zander and Hamm 2010; Zagata 2012; Zanoli et al., 2007),  and safety of the product (Botonaki et al., 2006; Briz and Ward 2009; Zagata 2012). Consumers also consider organic food as natural food (Padilla Bravo et al., 2013;Krystallis et al., 2008; Wiedmann et al., 2014; Ekelund et al., 2007), a little bit expensive than the routine food (Aertsens 2011; Briz and Ward 2009; Brown et al., 2009; Gil and Soler 2006).

The purity in organic products is because of the fact that such crops are grown in farm yard manure (FYM), therefore, it is understood that livestock plays an important role in organic farming and use feed resources unsuitable or not needed for human consumption to produce food and manure for plant production. It is noted that feed resources unsuitable for human consumption are usually used by livestock to produce FYM.  During the current study, data on traditional knowledge (TK) of organic farming practice in Kabban sub valley located at N33o15.758/-E76o15.731/ of the North-western Himalayan region has been collected with the aim to understand the basis of this practice from time immemorial.  Data has been collected through the interactive and quantitative approach. It has been found that in this valley the maximum production of vegetables and grains have been done since time immemorial as organic farming only.

METHODOLOGY:
Study Area:

Kabban sub valley is a cluster of 06 villages (Kabban, Huddu, Pattok, Bangwar, Burnalti, Dopani) located in Greater Himalayan Region.The cluster is one of the remote locations in Padder sub-division of district Kishtwar, Jammu and Kashmir, India. The cluster comprise total of 208 household of Buddhist population.None of the village of this cluster is connected with road or any modern transport system like cable trolley etc. Therefore, only method of transportation in this region is either mule or head load. The source of their livelihood is mainly agriculture and cattle rearing. The cropland of this region is highly fertile without any modern agriculture method. Therefore, organic farming a traditional eco friendly method is the main agriculture practice wherein the main crops are grown only in the summer season. The main crops under cultivation are Peas, Potato, Barley, Cabbage, Carrot, Knol-khol, and Radish. Because of availability of springs, the irrigation is very easy in these mountains. Trace farming is the basic and ultimate structure of agriculture in this region.

Survey and data collection:

During the surveys conducted in summer (May-September, 2016) in the study area, a total of 82 farmers including 55 male and 27 female were interviewed for information on organic farming through semi-structured questionnaire study. The information gathered through questionnaire study included demographic profile of informants, farmers experience and their activities, species under cultivation, knowledge about organic crops, methods of farming and mode of transportation.

Data analysis:

Direct interview of 82 informants, resulted in the collection of data on the organic farming of the kabban region. The data collected was analyzed using three-point Likert scale.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Demographics and farming experience

A total of 82 villagers were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires designed for the study. The respondents were mostly from agriculture background (95.12%) including rearing and livestock and cultivating several crops like barley, wheat, peas, oats and potato largely. Maximum number of the respondents was from male (68.29%), however few females (31.70%) were also expert in the farming business (Table 1). Families in the area send their children to down the mountains in a small town called Gulabargh for education purpose. Beside agriculture and education many adults also migrated to the others parts of the country to work and earn for their livelihood. Therefore, respondents encountered during the study were maximum (52.43%) from the age group between 40-69 years (Table 1).

Table 1. Demographics of survey respondents (N=82)

Particulars Details Percent
Gender Male 68.29
Female 31.7
Age (Years) ≤19 2.24
20-39 47.56
40-69 52.43
≥70 9.75
Farming experience Yes 95.12
No 4.87

Respondent’s experiences and practices:
Among the respondents, the majority of practitioners were having less than 14 years (26.82%) of farming experiences. Which is followed by 15-19 years (24.39%), still backed by 30-44 years (19.51) and those with 45 years (21.95%) of farming experiences, respectively (Table 3).The farmers of the area are more actively depend on the organic production such as on crops and livestock’s. Of these two sector respondents are more focused on production of organic crops, which according to obtained data is calculated to be 95.12% (Table 1). However on the other hand livestock’s value is calculated around 62.19% (Table3). In total more than 95% of the respondents are engaged in the farming system. The analysis of obtained data from the respondents of Kabban sub-valley upturn higher percentage offarmers were engaged in organic cropping system that is around 95.12% than practicing organic farm animals rearing, revealing shifting of organic practice more towards organic farming system.

Table 2 Characteristics of farming and non-farming respondents by age and gender percent (N=82)

Age Farming Nonfarming
Male Female Male Female
≤19 0 0 0 1.21
20-39 12.19 21.95 10.97 13.41
40-69 36.58 13.41 21.95 12.19
≥70 6.09 3.67 2.43 1.21

Since the study was based on the organically produced horticultural crops of the Kabban area, the data collected from the respondents were based on the well constructed questioners listening carefully on selected vegetables and herbs. The organic matter produced from the farmland includes organic vegetables, organic spices and organic cereals as well as condiments (Table 4).Amongst different organic crops, the most favored vegetables are Pisumsativum (Pea) and Solanumtuberosum (Potato) each cultivated by 95.12% of the farmers, followed by 02 cereals Hordiumvulgare (barley) (51.21%) and Triticumaestivum (Wheat) (32.92%) respectively.  Among spices only one species red pepper is cultivated by 23.17% of the farmers, however coriander (Criandrumsativum)(28.04%) is the most preferred species in condiment category in Kabban area. Mint(Menthalongifolia) is known to very few farmers and being cultivated by 8.53% of the farmers. Plum(Prunusdomstica) is the only fruit species being cultivated by 9.78%. The study conducted in the area also upturn the production of other vegetables 35.36% like Pumpkin, Knol-khol, Beans, Turnip, Cucumber, Cabbage.

Respondent’s knowledge of organic practices:

A three-point Likert type scale of 1-3 has been laid down as a standard measure to comprehend an organic understanding of respondents of the surveyed area. The measure with 1 designates no knowledge, while 2 notify us about having some understanding and finally 3 report us about having  appealing good knowledge within the respondents. Applying the above set method it is known that approximately 31% of the respondent have at least some knowledge about production cost and almost 60% organic respondents have no knowledge about the cost of organic growing. Approximately 4% have a good knowledge about cost of organic farming while majority of respondents have no knowledge pertaining to the organic marketing, farming practices. As far as quality of organic crop is concerned approximately 69% of respondents with high knowledge, while 25% respondents found with some knowledge about offseason marketing (Table 5).

 

DISCUSSION:

Beside the health benefits of organic farming, it is also proved favourable to biodiversity and is better than conventional farming (Mäder et al., 2002; Hole et al., 2005). Because organic farming reduces environmental pollution particularly soil and water pollution (Nemecek et al., 2011) and also protect animal welfare (Kijlstra and Eijck 2006). Therefore many state governments like Bhutan government is engaged in full conversion of the conventional farming into organic farming (Neuhoff, et al., 2014). But to take this step by the government some prerequisites like organic certification, continuous organic farming, good transport mechanism and good packing facility are required. In addition, a set model already developed in such ecological condition is also required. Kabban sub-valley in Padder (Greater Himalaya), Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir is a part of Greater Himalaya, where the organic farming is in practice from time immemorial because the area is in between the mountains without any road connectivity. Duringthe study a large number of respondents has shown farming experience (95.12%), indicating that almost all the households plasticize agriculture including livestock rearing as a supplement to the agriculture system. Both males (68.29%) and females (31.70%) of various age groups were interviewed (Table 1) and it was found that most of the respondents figure in the age group of 40-69 years. The young people of the region either leave the villages for education or job purpose. The main source of the income to the villagers is agriculture. As the region is not connected to the road, therefore, the agriculture is based on the farmyard manure (FYM) and cow urine. During the study it has been observed that within the age group of ≤ 19 to 49, most of the farmers belong to female sex of the society, indicating that females donot prefer to go outside the villages for education or job purpose. However, from age 40 years and onwards, female figures less indicating that the females are mostly married outside the villages and the married women generally help in housekeeping in the area (Table 2). According to the study respondents ≤ 14 years of age are more experienced about the agriculture, this is because such respondents are engaged to the agriculture from their childhood, however, adults start farming pr livestock rearing after returning from the other parts of the country, where they spent a large part of their life 12-25 years in earning as per their skill. There are exclusive of 17.07% respondents in the villages that either rear livestock or do nothing because of their old age (Table 3). Rest of the respondents practice organic farming and cultivate vegetables, spice, condiments and cereals using FYM and cow urine. Cow urine because of its insecticidal property is sprinkled on the crop with the help of branched of Juniperus sp. or Rabdosiarugosus. Among vegetables peas, potato and radish; under cereals barley, wheat and oats; under condiments coriander, green onion and mint; under spices, red pepper and under fruits plum are the main crops under organic cultivation, however people also cultivate pumpkin, cucumber, knolkhol, cabbage, spinach, fagopyrum, amaranth etc. are the minor crops cultivated in the region (Table 4).

Table 3: Farmers’ experience in farming and their farming activities (N=82)

Parameter Category Percent a
Years of experience ≤14 26.82
15-29 24.39
30-44 19.51
≥45 21.95
Farming activity Organic livestock 62.19
Organic crops and  vegetables 95.12
Organic fruits 9.78
No crops 17.07
Crops produced Selected vegetables  and cereals 95.12
Selected spices and condiments 36.58

aPercent exceeds 100 as respondent could check more than one category

Table 4:  Percent of farmers producing organic (Org) crops (N=82)

Name of the species Common name Vernacular name Category Percentage
Pisumsativum Pea Mattar V 95.12
Solanumtuberosum Potato Allu V 95.12
Triticumaestivum Wheat To-o C 32.92
Hordiumvulgare Barley Nay C 51.21
Capsicum annua Red pepper Tsan-tay S 23.17
Coriandrumsativum Coriander Dhania Co 28.04
Raphanussativus Radish Gajar V 14.63
Allium cepa Green onion Chong Co 15.04
Mentha Mint Pudina Co 8.53
Prunusdomestica Plum Aroo F 9.78
Others O 35.36

V= vegetables; C= cereals; S= spices; Co= condiments; F=fruits; O= Others

Table 5:  Farmers rating of their knowledge about growing organic crops (N=82)

Do you know about? Knowledge
1a 2a 3a
Cost of growing organic crops N=49 (59.75%) N=30 (36.58%) N=3 (3.65%)
Market for producing organic crops N=82 (100%) N=0 (0%) N=0 (0%)
Quality of organic grown crops (pod size) N=0 (0%) N=26 (31.70%) N=56 (68.29%)
Farming practices for safety of organic grown produce N=78 (95.12%) N=4 (4.87%) N=0 (0%)
Offseason marketing N=58 (70.73%) N=20 (24.39%) N=4 (4.87%)

aLikert scale where 1a= no knowledge, 2a= some knowledge, 3a= high knowledge

Beside the organic farming in the region, farmers are not aware about the value of their crops as maximum respondents (65.85%) are not aware about the actual cost of the organic crops and only 34.14% respondents know that the crops grown organically do have more cost than the conventional crops. Even the availability of proper market is also known to the farmers of the region (Table 5). The knowledge about the quality of the crops is measured in terms of the pod/crop/tiller/fruit size by the farmers of Kabban region, 97.5% of the respondents understand that the quality of the should be maintained and only 2.43% of the respondents donot care about of the quality of the product. Farmers of the region donot known about the benefits of the organic farming or offseason market of the products therefore the economic status of the people in the region is not so strong.

CONCLUSION
Barriers to organic productions
1. Problems of organic farming

Very low knowledge about organic farming in the respondents, even they practicing the farming system from historic past.

Few respondents have a slight knowledge about marketing, cost of production, quality production and farming practices. While majority of farmers still indifferent to this system.

There is no government backing to the farmers of the surveyed area.

Transportation is another great hurdle to the local farmers as there is vehicle road in the mountains.
2. Problems pertaining to organic livestock rearing
Lack of Market

Lack of Knowledge

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