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The viability of cotton-based organic farming systems in India

Eyhorn, Frank; Ramakrishnan, Mahesh and Mäder, Paul (2007) The viability of cotton-based organic farming systems in India. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability (5), pp. 25-38.

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Summary

Cotton farmers in many developing countries are facing decreasing marginal returns due to stagnating yields and high input costs. Conversion to organic management could offer an alternative. In a two year comparative study in central India covering 170 cotton fields, organic farms achieved cotton yields that were on par with those in conventional farms, whereby nutrient inputs and input costs per crop unit were reduced by half. Due to 10–20% lower total production costs and a 20% organic price premium, average gross margins from organic cotton fields were 30–40% higher than in the conventional system. Although the crops grown in rotation with cotton were sold without premium, organic farms achieved 10–20% higher incomes from agriculture. In addition to these economic benefits, the organic farming system does not burden soil and groundwater with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. However, in this study only minor differences were detected in soil fertility parameters of organic and conventional fields. Altogether, the results suggest that conversion to organic farming can improve livelihoods of smallholders while protecting natural resources. Income loss due to reduced yields in initial years of transition, however, constitutes a major hurdle, especially for poorer farmers. It is thus important to support farmers in overcoming the obstacles of the conversion period.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Organic Cotton Crop Guide, organic agriculture, relative competitiveness, soil fertility, sustainable livelihoods, Nachhaltigkeitsanalyse
Subjects: Crop husbandry
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Soil Sciences
Related Links:http://www.fibl.org/forschung/bodenwissenschaften/index.php, http://www.iccoa.org/
Deposited By: Eyhorn, Frank
ID Code:13459
Deposited On:25 Apr 2008
Last Modified:11 Oct 2010 10:12
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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