The millions of food insecure people in India are not solely due to inadequate food production, but also because some people are simply too poor to buy food. This study assessed how a large-scale conversion from conventional to organic production would impact on the economics of marginal and small farmers in Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, and on the total food production in these states. This study also considered a situation where fertilizer subsidies would be discontinued, with farmers having to carry the full cost of fertilizer. Results show that conversion to organic improved the economic situation of farmers although food production was reduced by 3-5% in the organic situation. Thus, the estimated economic values were higher in the organic system (5-40% in fertilizer subsidy scenario and 22-132% in no fertilizer subsidy scenario) than in the conventional system, whereas the total state-level food productions were lowered by 3-5% in the organic compared to the conventional system. Food production was higher when rainfed, and lower in the irrigated situation in the large-scale organic scenario. Although the study addresses short-term perspectives of large-scale conversion to organic farming, more research is needed to understand the long-term impact of organic conversion on food production, nutrient supply, food security and poverty reduction.
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems (print), 2015, Vol 30, Issue 3, p. 252-262
food production; food security; organic farming; small farmers