Agriculture has not only provided people with food, clothing and heating for several centuries, but it has also granted livelihoods to majority of the population around the world. Today despite major innovations and new technologies, food production relies predominantly on the primary sector, which continues to be the backbone of India’s economy. An average Indian still spends almost half of his/her total expenditure on food, while roughly half of India’s work force is still engaged in agriculture for its livelihood being a source of livelihood and food security for the infinite majority of low income, poor and vulnerable sections of society. India ranks 134 in the Human Development Report. (Udin, 2014).
As per Planning Commission over the last decade, poverty has witnessed a consistent decline with the levels dropping from 37.2% in 2004-05 to 29.8% in 2009-10. Poverty in India declined to a record 22% in 2011-12, With regard to being self-sufficient, Increasing the production and productivity of Indian agriculture and ensuring food security are among the key priority areas of the government (Rao, 2013).
It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population lives in marginal lands, a large proportion of which is horizontal to frequent shocks of droughts. Hence, about half of the two million people living in households from all socioeconomic classifications in the village, dry land regions are likely to be poor Environmental degradation most severely affects the rural poor of the developing countries. Agriculture is the largest economic sector in India, and it plays significant role in the growth and development of the national economy. Thus, the weakening of the agricultural sector over the last few decades is a major concern for the country in its ascent as an emerging market economy(Udin, 2014).
Organic Forming is a nature-based Agriculturesystem. Earlier the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, livestock feed additives and growth regulators On a more general term, describes organic farming as the ‘process of producing food naturally’ However; It is found that Lampkin offers the most comprehensive definition. Apart from chemical-free input agriculture, he reflects the approaches and methods used in organic farming, pointing out the important role of recycling organic wastes to increase soil health and productivity and control insects, pests and weeds. In more methodical terms, he explains the goal of organic farming as following though there are no generallyestablished rules for organic farming; the review of literature denotes a concept of an ecological friendly way of agriculture. The farmers convert the soil from a non-living to a living organism relating techniques such as crop spin and application of bio insecticides and bio fertilizers(wad, 2010).
The major concept is that organic agriculture is the farming based on natural ideologies which alone are sustainable.” In a husk, the most salient feature of organic farming is the absence of chemical inputs to increase output. The soil, and not the crops, is fed on a natural and essential basis. It is noticeable that the meanings of authors vary from a methodological to a more philosophical approach to an alternative form of agriculture. However, all sources do follow the maxim of environment safety and ecological sustainability.
Organic Farming and Agrarian’s Livelihood
In developing countries, where three out of four poor people live in rural areas and where more than 80% of rural people live in households that are involved in agriculture, improving poor farmers’ livelihoods is central for addressing rural developmentmany studies have suggested that ‘organic’ agriculture could contribute substantially to farmers’ food security and improve farmers’ livelihoods.
Rural livelihoods are not limited just to income derived solely from farming but it is a holistic way of looking on their livelihood strategies. As far as strategies are concerned, Scoones and Ellis measured agricultural strengthening livelihood diversification and migration as the three core livelihood strategies(Goodrich, July 2001).
Objectives of the Study
The study is limited to farmers as they represent the majority and most vulnerable part of the rural population. The present study was carried out to meet the following specific objectives
1. To identify the impact of organic farming on rural agrarian in terms of -Employment and Reduced poverty.
2. To study the contribution of organic farming to sustainable livelihood development among rural farmers.
In order to response the stated objectives a farmer-cantered research method was chosen. The present study made use of descriptive research design as it deals with an area in which only a few efforts have been made by social work researchers in analysing the Impact of Organic farming in ensuring sustainable livelihood of rural agrarians in Selected Farmer families in Mandya and Shimoga districts of Karnataka State constitute the universe of the study. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews scheduled, direct observation and discussions with various stakeholders concerned with organic farming. The study is based on field observation which contributes to existing field of knowledge and intends to give an understanding into the authenticities of farmers’families and alsocase study approach is designed to depict individual cases of marginal organic farmers in a real-life context with the help of a variety of data collection.
Case -1 Madaiah Family
Madaiah aged 46 with son and daughter living in one-acre farmland with their parents and grandparents. He got primary school education. The family owns one acre of areca palms (Areca catechu), which provides the main income for their livelihoods. The sugarcane and rice is a popular cash crop in the Mandya region. Its harvesting time is once a year around November to December, they managed with family labour but during peak agricultural season hired labour utilized. If the prices in the market are stable, the family earns around one lakh Rupees for twelve quintals of sugarcane, out of which they have to pay the wages for the laborers. Apart from the sugarcane or Kabbu (local name) his wife grows plenty of vegetables, fruits spices bananas and jackfruit, etc. madaiah not getting any support from the government and they do not have irrigation facilities in their farm.
Case 2 – puttanna Family
Puttanna is 32 years old and he studied up to graduation Level.He lives with his mother in a big, newly renovated farmhouse in one-acre land. His father passed away a couple of years back and since then he is taking care of the family property, the sugarcane has been cultivated solely with organic farming practices. His father’s friends advised puttanna to use chemicals, but he refused. During harvesting time, he asks his friends and neighbours for help and in return he would work on their farms when needed. He believes in doing hard work and barely requires paid labourers. He manages the farm work and mother takes care of domestic work.
Earlier, puttanna used to harvest around two quintal of the sugarcane, but ever since he invested in an irrigation system he is able to sell around twelve quintals in the market. Apart from that, he grows water million and produces honey for own consumption. Next year, he is getting married and hopes that then his wife can also help in the farming activities. He thinks even when they will have children the income from the farm itself will be sufficient. Puttanna does not get any government support.
Results and Discussion
Impact on Livelihood
It is found that the farmers experienced a very labour intensive period during harvesting time after the monsoons in November and December. While the first and second cases claim to hired labourers for cultivating and harvesting the sugarcane and rice rely more on help from neighbours’ and friends. However, in all the studied cases the family is the primary source of labour except the first case the informant from KrishiPrayogaPariwara also confirmed the importance of exchange of labour among organic farmers in the form of non-monetary support. He also added that the advantage of small farmers with less than one acre of land do have the advantage of less labourrequirement, which can be covered by the family members internally. One sugarcanefarmer involved in only farm works for around three month in a year. Another rice cultivator is occupied for around eight months in a year in farm work only and the other respondent, a young bachelor pursues farming as a full-time activity. None of the four farmers feel extra burden of organic farming as compared to non-organic agriculture. While the first two interviewees had never applied chemicals before, the paddy farmers used toapply anddo not feel a difference.
Increase the income of formers,Out of the two interviewed farmer families, only one generates enough income exclusively from farm related activities. The head of the other families go for other jobs outside their farm varying from masonry to driving an auto rickshaw, mechanic work, agricultural labourer it is observed that, there is needs of extra income for education of children or religious ceremonies expenditure etc., In terms of premium prices, the farmers cultivating cash crops fetch premium prices. But varies due to market fluctuations. While the rice farmers get around 35 per cent as a premium for organically grown rice. The same incentive might work in the overall crop rotation in the farm. The chemical agriculture also cost of cultivation isless keeping the sustainability of farming land in the long run.Researcher discuss the results of the analysis of the two indicators of measuring sustainable livelihoods were earlier defined as employment, reduced poverty, With the help of the case study approach, two farms were selected in the district.
Employmentit was found that organic farming isnot an extra burden. However, out of two farmers only one, farmer is a full-time profession. It was found that this farmer is the only lab our force in the household as compared to two to four members working on the farm in othercases. On the one hand it can be assumed that the labour force of one full-time farmer on a one-acre sugarcane grove is sufficient to cultivate the land; on the other hand it needs to be taken into consideration that the requirements of a two- member household with no children are much less in comparison to the other families. Consequently all other farmers were forced to take up other jobs to cover household expenditures. In the studied cases however these organic farming practices don’t take place due to animal threats and lack of irrigation facilities. Nonetheless attempts for self-sufficiency were observed. One part of the sustainable livelihood outcomes is positive reputation among other community members. Although it was expressed in the reviewed literature that organic farmers are more educated and looked up to, some of the respondents encountered opposing chemical farmers. The organic farming was achieving sustainable livelihoods.
The reduction of poverty is another outcome of sustainable livelihoods, which is further sub-categorized into food security and safety, access to basic health care and education, water and sanitation as well as access to information. In a sugarcaneshell, organic farming did not contribute significantly to poverty reduction in the studied cases. While there is potential to provide quality food for improved nutrition and health and decreased costs for food purchases, this holds only partially true in the selected farmer family which contributes to decrease in poverty in the long run.
Organic farming can contribute to sustainable livelihoods of farmers; the case studies show high potential but not complete fulfilment of the indicators. While one-acre land or less does not yield enough to sustain the expenses of a family with children, the results indicate a possibility to live self-sufficiently for small farmers with one to two acres. Practices like multi-cropping would improve food-security and safety, reduce the expenses of the household and might decrease health care expenditures. In perspective of rural development this implies a different approach to poverty alleviation. While a main benefit of organic farming is currently seen in premium prices and improved marketing channels for those products to increase income, organic farmers could achieve sustainable livelihoods through enhanced government support. This study contributes to the wider body of knowledge in the field of organic farming and more specifically to private and public poverty alleviation programmes in rural India. It serves as a starting point for further investigation on the topic of sustainable livelihoods among farmers and alternative poverty reduction approaches opposing merely growth induced development activities.