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Project Report on Growth of Organic Agriculture
The world market for organic food has grown for over 15 years. Growth of retail sales in North America is predicted to be 10 per cent to 20 per cent per year during the next few years. It is estimated that imported products make up over 70 per cent of the organic food consumed in Canada. Canada also exports many organic products, particularly soybeans and grains. About 48 per cent of the organic cropland is seeded to grains, 40 per cent produces hay and pasture and about five per cent for certified organic fruits and vegetables. Livestock production (meat, dairy and eggs) has also been steadily increasing in recent years.
Why Farm Organically?
Organic farming methods combine scientific knowledge of ecology and modern technology with traditional farming practices based on naturally occurring biological processes. Organic farming methods are studied in the field of agro ecology. While conventional agriculture uses synthetic pesticides and water-soluble synthetically purified fertilizers, organic farmers are restricted by regulations to using natural pesticides and fertilizers. An example of a natural pesticide is pyrethrin, which is found naturally in the Chrysanthemum flower. The principal methods of organic farming include crop rotation, green manures and compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation. These measures use the natural environment to enhance agricultural productivity: legumes are planted to fix nitrogen into the soil, natural insect predators are encouraged, crops are rotated to confuse pests and renew soil, and natural materials such as potassium bicarbonate and mulches are used to control disease and weeds. Genetically modified seeds and animals are excluded.
While organic is fundamentally different from conventional because of the use of carbon based fertilizers compared with highly soluble synthetic based fertilizers and biological pest control instead of synthetic pesticides, organic farming and large-scale conventional farming are not entirely mutually exclusive. Many of the methods developed for organic agriculture have been borrowed by more conventional agriculture. For example, Integrated Pest Management is a multifaceted strategy that uses various organic methods of pest control whenever possible, but in conventional farming could include synthetic pesticides only as a last resort.
The main reasons farmers state for wanting to farm organically are their concerns for the environment and about working with agricultural chemicals in conventional farming systems. There is also an issue with the amount of energy used in agriculture, since many farm chemicals require energy intensive manufacturing processes that rely heavily on fossil fuels. Organic farmers find their method of farming to be profitable and personally rewarding.
What is "Certified Organic"?
“Certified organic” is a term given to products produced according to organic standards as certified by one of the certifying bodies. There are several certification bodies operating in Ontario. A grower wishing to be certified organic must apply to a certification body requesting an independent inspection of their farm to verify that the farm meets the organic standards. Farmers, processors and traders are each required to maintain the organic integrity of the product and to maintain a document trail for audit purposes. Products from certified organic farms are labeled and promoted as “certified organic.”
The Canadian organic regulations require certification to these standards for agricultural products represented as organic in import, export and inter-provincial trade, or that bear the federal organic agricultural product legend or logo. Products that are both produced and sold within a province are regulated by provincial organic regulations where they exist (Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba).
The federal regulations apply to most food and drink intended for human consumption and food intended to feed livestock, including agricultural crops used for those purposes. They also apply to the cultivation of plants. The regulations do not apply to organic claims for other products such as aquaculture products, cosmetics, fibres, health care products, fertilizers, pet food, lawn care, etc.
Food products labeled as organic must contain at least 95 per cent organic ingredients (not including water and salt) and can bear the Canada Organic logo. Multi-ingredient products with 70 per cent to 95 per cent organic product content may be labeled with the declaration: “% organic ingredients”. Multi-ingredient products with less than 70 per cent organic content may identify the organic components in the ingredient list.