a1 Department of Agroecology and Environment, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.
a2 International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems (ICROFS), Blichers Allé, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.
a3 Department of Animal Health and Bioscience, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.
In India, the number of farmers converting to organic farming has increased in the recent past despite the lack of government support in providing knowledge and extension to the farmers. The aim of this article is to investigate the perceived relevance, benefits and barriers to a conversion to organic agriculture in three different Indian contexts—in Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand states. In each state, 40 farmers from both organic and conventional systems were interviewed. The findings indicated that conventional producers identified production and marketing barriers as the main constraints to adopting organic farming, while the age and education of the farmer were not deemed a problem. Lack of knowledge and lack of institutional support were other barriers to conversion. Some farmers were, however, interested in converting to organic farming in the near future in Madhya Pradesh due to the low cost of production, and in Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand due to the price premium and health benefits. On the other hand, organic farmers were more concerned with health, environmental and production factors when institutional support was available. The years under conversion were positively associated with reduced input costs in all three states and with increased income in Tamil Nadu and increased yield in Madhya Pradesh. Both organic and conventional farmers found the two production factors, low yield and pest control, to be of major concern. However, organic farms in Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand experienced yield increases because most of the farms were in the post-conversion period, while the farms in Tamil Nadu were in the conversion period and experienced yield reduction. The study suggests that the government scheme for compensating yield loss during the conversion period and a price premium may help farmers adopt organic agriculture on a large scale in India.
(Accepted May 10 2011)
(Online publication June 20 2011)