Comparative Study on Management Practices between Organic and Chemical Farming

Md Shafiqul Islam

Abstract


This management based study is conducted in both chemical and organic tea farms in Tetulia Upazila, Panchagarh district with a view to know the management practices used in organic and chemical tea farms. Two sites from organically managed tea farms and two sites from conventionally managed tea farms are selected for the study to elicit the differences between two farming practices. Secondary data related to organic farming practices and conventional practices are reviewed for this study. Eight Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and 20 Key Informants Interviews (KIIs) are carried out to get both quantitative and qualitative data on farming approaches. Most chemical growers are involved in chemical farming due to the readily availability of inputs in the market and short term benefits. They are not as concerned about long term negative impacts of chemicals such as chemical farming leading soil to lose nutrients, moisture and organic matter content and resulting in extreme soil PH values. Both types of farming have a few similar practices, although no soil transformation process is observed in the conventionally managed tea farms, however, lot of inputs are used in organically managed tea farms that includes plants, animals‟ by-products, seeds, bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides. These inputs are locally available, environment friendly and almost free of cost. Narrow based inputs are used in chemical tea farms. The sources of such type of inputs are mostly market dependent with a high cost. While listing organic inputs, it is observed that all of the materials are biodegradable without leaving any trace. On the other hand, the study found a shorter list for chemical farms‟ inputs that have a high level of trace and residual effect after use in the farming practices. In managing weeds, organic tea farms adopted a wide array of methods including suppression of weeds, uprooting of weeds and weakening the weeds. Conventionally managed tea farms often use spade weeding and sickling; the best option is to use chemical herbicides. In managing water, ground water is the main source of irrigation for conventional farming, which is pumped by burning fossil fuel. On the other hand organically managed tea farms only use irrigation in the extremely sandy zones by utilizing surface water. In organic farms, the fields are usually irrigated after mulching to ensure effective irrigation through managing the soils‟ moisture. Red spider mite, caterpillar, helopeltis and thrips are the common insects in both types of farms. In controlling these types of pests, organic growers use preventive measures, physical measures, biological measures and in the some cases they use bio-pesticides. Bio-pesticides are prepared using plant extract, oil, leaves and barks of the native plants. Intensive use of chemical pesticides is the only option in chemical tea farms, as they have made the insects resistant to the chemicals. Chemically managed tea farms have created risk for the environment, water, air, soil, animals, birds and human health. The workers of chemical tea farms face severe problems during the spray of chemicals, for instance- vomiting, sneezing, eye irritation, headache and other infections. On the other hand, there is no risk in organically managed tea farms except for the contamination of neighbouring fields. Considering the cost of production, chemical tea farms incur a higher cost than the organic tea farms. For the former, both materials and wages cost relatively more. But the organic farms incur intensive labour cost compared to material cost. However, the yields of tea crops in chemical farms are reported to be more than organics‟. The main reason behind this is due to coarse plucking, which leads to a higher produce in chemical farms without considering the quality the standards of plucking. On the other hand, organic farms initially supply lower yield but secure larger revenue. Moreover, an organic farm‟s supply gradually increases, in contrast to the decrease in yield of conventional farms. The ultimate benefits of organic farms result in a higher profit margin, in addition to environmental benefits in terms of soil, air, water, animals and human health.

Aus. & NewZe J. Soci Busi. Env. Sus. Vol 2(1), April 2016, P 47-77


Keywords


Organic; Conventional; Management; Agrochemicals; Coarse Plucking; Pests; Bio-pesticides; Extract; Biodiversity; Economics

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