Barada Panigrahy, faculty member of the Faculty of Management Studies at the Sri Sri University, recently won the “Best Paper” award for his paper, Organic Agriculture towards a Sustainable Economy, at the Indian Economy: Development, Prospects, and Perspectives seminar, recently conducted at Haridwar.
Barada, who teaches Agribusiness Management, is a postgraduate in Management (Marketing) from the ICFAI University as well as in Agricultural Economics from the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology.
Q. Why do you think organic farming is the need of the hour?
According to His Holiness Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, agriculture is the backbone of human existence. For any civilization to prosper, agriculture has to be healthy and sustainable. We need to focus on promoting organic agriculture and agricultural practices that are stress-free, violence-free, and chemical-free.
There are three objectives to organic farming. Firstly, it minimizes farmer suicides by reducing their dependence on farming inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. Secondly, it helps provide healthy food for the society. And thirdly, it helps combat climate change by cutting down greenhouse gas emissions.
Q. How does organic farming contribute towards slowing down climate change?
There is a misconception that industries and automobiles are the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, agriculture is one of the major contributors to climate change.
Urea, which is one of the most commonly used fertilizers, releases nitrous oxide, which is a powerful greenhouse gas. 1 kg of nitrous oxide causes as much damage as 298 kg of carbon dioxide.
Q. What are some of the challenges that stand in the way of an organic farming revolution?
One of the major bottlenecks for organic farming is the supply chain, which is currently weak. There needs to be a strong cold supply chain. The government is currently working on this
There is little awareness among farmers about the current trends in agriculture, such as contract farming, which has the potential to boost sustainability in organic farming.
Farmers are also facing issues with certification. Non-certified organic products do not fetch the market premium. This is because organic farmers are currently scattered, making certification a cost-intensive process. Certification is only effective when the size of land holdings is large; local farming communities need to collaborate for effective certification.
Nobody expected a revolution in the telecom industry. Yet, today, cell phones have uniformly trickled down to every section of the society. There will be a similar revolution in organic farming.
Q. How does the Agribusiness Management program at the Sri Sri University contribute to this vision?
We offer maximum exposure to students to get accustomed to the industry through our Self-Audit, Capstone, and Management Lab programs.
Our structured management lab involves the setting up of an organic farm; students are exposed to the various practices of organic agriculture. They then disseminate the knowledge to the nearby farming communities. Students train the local farming communities on the practice and promotion of organic agriculture.
We also plan to offer incubation support to farmers all over India. Farmers will soon be able to visit our campus for complete exposure to organic farming.