Bio-organic farming, organic farmers, organic food, etc. We have been hearing a lot about these in recent times. While some follow up on the concept of organic, others don’t know what it is. For some, it is a trend, yet others consider it a lifestyle. To clarify, we share with you everything about organic farming. What is it? How does it work? When did it start? Why is it better? And what is the reality of organic agriculture in Oman? Bio-organic farming did not start a few years before. Yet it reached its peak in the 21st century. Today, organic products are available worldwide. Some countries produce organic products; other countries import them. What is the case in Oman? Is it a country producing or importing organic?
What does bio-organic farming mean?
The WHO defined bio-organic farming as:
“A production system that promotes the health of the environment.” It focuses on the use of biologic methods over non-farm ones.
Bio-organic farming avoids synthetic fertilizers as they threaten human life, animals and the environment.
Difference between inorganic and bio-organic farming
Non-organic farming uses pesticides and chemicals to grow products.
But bio-organic farming aims to reduce the environmental impact of these products.
Non-organic products are more significant, while organic products are smaller and have a variety of shapes.
Benefits of bio-organic farming:
The advantages of bio-organic farming are many. The most important ones are:
Bio-organic farming creates safe food products with high nutritional values, along with maintaining and preserving soil fertility.
Bio-organic farming ensures the safe use of water. Farmers use renewable resources, avoiding, thus, all types of pollution.
And finally, caring for the environment and preserving natural resources. (including wildlife).
Rules of bio-organic farming:
Bio-organic farming is not arbitrary. It relies on a set of rules and principles to meet consumer requirements. These regulations aim to protect the environment and humans.
The fundamental principles of bio-organic farming are:
- Bio-organic farming requires soil free from fertilizers and pesticides. (unlike traditional agriculture.)
- Specialists must visit the land and study samples of soil and water.
- Farmers and livestock keepers must obtain a certificate of organic production.
- The cultivated land must be away from pollution areas. (such as the airport, a landfill, etc.)
- The farmer must isolate his land with a natural fence (trees, trenches)
- The seeds must be organic and non-GMO.
- Farmers must combat insects with proper natural medicines.
- Farmers must have an adequate agriculture culture.
To switch to bio-organic farming, one must apply these regulations to obtain an organic certificate.
History of Bio-organic farming
Organic agriculture is a system that overcomes external inputs.
It relies on local resources and tries to restore nature’s balance.
Organic agriculture developed in the twentieth century, with the initiatives of the farmers at the beginning.
Albert Howard was the father of organic agriculture. He believed that the use of animal manure and biologic pest lead to better farming systems.
Yet, the research interest in this topic dates back to the past few decades. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements sparked in 1972. IFOAM was a turning point in the history of bio-organic farming.
Organic agriculture developed around the world during the past few years. Today, we have more than 110 countries engaged in this type of agriculture. In addition to the emergence of markets for organic products. (supermarkets, mini markets, etc.). Non-food organic products emerged as well, like cosmetics and medicines. Plus, some countries are practicing unapproved organic agriculture. A change in dietary habits among many populations have happened.
Organic food sales increased during recent years. The main reason was the demand for diversified products. (including easy-to-prepare meals). It is due to environmental awareness, as well. The consumer became more critical and more demanding at food purchases. In the United States, organic sales increased from $20.39 billion in 2008 to $45.21 billion in 2017, while sales in Europe were about $33 billion (€29.8 billion)
Bio-organic farming in Oman
In many countries, there are attempts to return to bio-organic farming. It allows the production of healthy food without harming the environment.
In Oman, similar attempts have begun in the 1990s, but on a small scale.
What is the reality of organic agriculture in Oman? What are its prospects and the conditions to obtain healthy organic products?
Below is a highlight on the topic.
There are many organic farms in the Sultanate.
In recent years, the Gulf countries have paid great attention to bio-organic farming. And many studies confirm the growth of this sector in the coming years. The main goal is to develop local resources to shift from traditional to bio-organic farming.
Oman is the third largest Arab country, with diversified cultivable territories.
Today, bio-organic farming is one of the Ministry’s priorities at present.
What helps develop bio-organic farming in Oman is the large non-cultivated areas. The abundance of human resources is an advantage, as well.
In light of the importance of organic products in Oman, Pairidaeza, an organic farm in Barka, emerged in 2016. It was the passion of a woman called Narjes, who started cultivating organic for her and her family. Today, Pairidaeza is well-known in bio-organic farming in the Sultanate.
In 2017, the biggest organic farm in Oman saw the light. Masrooq farm in the Ibri has switched to bio-organic farming. The new organic farm is one of the largest in the world.
In the same year, The Spar chain of stores launched a natural food products division at its branch in Sultan Qaboos. This is to provide customers with fresh and modern foods. And to meet the growing demand for organic food and drinks.
Today, The Sultanate of Oman is a great producer of organic products.
Suggestions for developing bio-organic farming. (In Oman and worldwide).
For every country wishing to develop organic farming, we suggest:
- Modernize productive methods.
- Increase farmers’ incomes as a way of motivation.
- Creating popular markets and educating consumers.
- Providing debates for organic farmers through the Ministry of Agriculture. Which helps them to raise the value of their products and reduce their cost.
- Encouraging people to convert their lands to organic farming. (Through webinars and ads.)
- Organizing training courses for extension engineers and specialists.
- Training farmers and providing them with the necessary skills to improve their capacities.
- Developing and adopting national law and standards for organic production.
- Produce to export. The export of organic products is essential. It creates good relationships with importers and traders in the target markets.
Numbers and connotations
• Sales of organic food were at $23 billion in 2002.
• The demand for organic products has increased by 20% since 1990.
• 20,000 stores sell organic foods in the United States.
• The sales price of organic matter in the United States increased. (from 1 billion to 7.8 billion in 10 years.)
• The percentage of cultivated areas with organic fields in Germany and Sweden reached 20% of the agriculture sectors in 2010.
• The area of organic fields in Europe is 5.6 million hectares and includes 143,000 farmers.
• The area of organic cultivation in Australia is 10million hectares.
Most of the baby food in Germany is organic. And 30% of the bread consumed in Munich is organic.
• Italy passed a law in 2005 to make food in schools organic.