FAQ’s What does the USDA Organic seal mean?   The USDA Organic seal assures consumers of the quality and integrity of organic products. Organic-certified operations must have an organic system plan and records that verify compliance with that plan. Operators are inspected annually in addition there are random checks to assure standards are being met What is the National Organic Program? The National Organic Program (NOP) consists of the regulations and regulatory agents to establish and protect  the standards for agricultural products labeled as ‘organic.’  These standards are known as the National Organic  Standards. Congress authorized the USDA to establish the NOP by the Organic Food Production Act of 1990. What are the OMRI Standards?   The OMRI review standards are based on the USDA National Organic Program standards (7 CFR Part 205) and  published in the OMRI Generic Materials List with the OMRI Standards Manual. What are organic standards? Organic standards are the set of “rules” which, as a registered organic producer, you must follow in order to  maintain your certificate that will allow you to sell produce as organic. EC Council Regulation 2092/91 controls and regulates organic production in the EU. Who has to be certified? The USDA regulations require that all producers and handlers that make an organic claim for their products  must be certified by a USDA-accredited certification agency. The only exceptions are for small farmers or  handlers. Who does the certifying? The USDA accredits state, private and international agencies to certify agricultural products and food as organic under the NOP. Who determines if a specific product is acceptable for use on an organic farm?  In most cases, the certification agencies determine whether or not the use of a given input on an farm  complies with organic standards. What does "Certified Organic" mean? "Certified Organic" means the item has been grown according to strict uniform standards that are verified.  Certification includes inspections of farm fields and processing facilities, detailed record keeping, and periodic  testing of soil and water to ensure that growers and handlers are meeting the standards that have been set.  Organic VS Certified-Organic - what’s the difference?  Products can be labeled as ‘organic’ without any requirement to prove this throughcertification.Producersare audited at least annually to verify that they comply with our high organic standards. This gives them the right to use the certifier’s trademark, which is trusted throughout the world. Organic certification gives consumers an independent validation of a producer’s claim to be organic. What is organic farming? Organic farming is a farming system which produces high quality food to an EU approved set of standards. Organic food products leaving a farm or processing plant are certified to these standards as a means of guaranteeing to consumers that the products have been produced according to these organic standards. Is there a need to practice organic farming? Excessive use over years of agro-chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers may affect the soil health and lead to declining of crop yields and quality of products. Hence, a natural balance needs to be maintained at all cost for existence of life and property. Is it possible to certify only part of the farm?

 Yes. Are there organic farmers in Pakistan? There are 40 registered organic farmers in Pakistan. How long does it take to transition land farmed conventionally to organic status? In order to be eligible for organic certification, land must have had no prohibited materials applied to it for  three years immediately preceding harvest. How will organically farming be different from the more conventional farming practices already used?  Organic production of crops is very similar to regular production for planting, harvesting. Varieties are usually  the same. Fertility, weeds and other pests need to be managed in a more intensive way. Crop rotation and timing of mechanical cultivation are critical to success. The integration of livestock, to help supply manure/compost  nutrients will also be a benefit. Can any type of agricultural product become certified organic? Yes. If a fertilizer is labeled ‘organic,’ will a farmer be able to use it on certified organic land? Fertilizer labeling is regulated by state laws, most of which define organic in a way that is not compatible with  organic standards. Caution is needed in evaluating fertilizer labeled as organic, as it might include prohibited  synthetics such as urea or sewage sludge. What farm inputs are allowed and what materials are prohibited in organic production?   In general, the NOP allows natural (non-synthetic) substances and prohibits synthetic substances, unless they  appear on the National List.  Organic food – what is it and why is it better? Organics is more than just ‘spray-free’ or ‘residue-free’. Organic food is grown naturally and without the routine  use of synthetic agricultural pesticides or fertilizers. It also means animals have been treated humanely and  rural communities have been united and empowered along the way. Don't some scientists say that organic farming doesn't work in the long-term? Very few still say that. Most scientists accept that there is a sound scientific basis to organic farming. In the past,  there has been some scientific prejudice against organics, however this has changed dramatically in the last  decade. Is organic farming just for smallholders and alternative lifestyles?   No. Most certified farmers are serious commercial producers and produce a wide range of products. They are  not distinguished by the size of their farms.  If organic farmers avoid agricultural chemicals and fertilizers, how do they look after their soils? Certified organic farmers only avoid synthetic and soluble fertilizers. They are dedicated to building soil fertility and structure using only natural forms of fertilizers and other soil building practices. Is it possible to grow an export crop without using chemical sprays? Yes. Fresh organic produce is being exported to all major markets around the world. Do organic farmers traditional methods like bullocks instead of tractors and other modern farming  equipment? No. Certified organic farmers use appropriate and innovative technologies to maximize efficiency of their  operations. Why does organic cost more? It does not. Some items, such as coffee, cereal and bread may cost the same or even less than their conventional  counterparts. And, as the demand for organics continues to grow, the cost will continue to come down. Is organic food more nutritious than conventional food? Yes. Some recently published studies in peer-reviewed journals have shown organic foods to have higher  nutritional value. For example, it was recently found that organic tomatoes had higher levels of phytochemicals  and vitamin C than conventional tomatoes. Does organic food taste better? Yes. Hundreds of gourmet chefs across the nation are choosing organic food to prepare and an increasing  number of consumers are also of the opinion that organic food tastes better. Since organic food is grown in well-balanced soil, it makes sense that these healthy plants have a great taste. Are organic yields lower? Not exactly.Growers who go through the 3-year transition period from conventional to organic management  usually experience an initial decrease in yields, until soil microbes are re-established and nutrient cycling is in  place, at which point yields return to previous levels and even higher. How do organic farmers fertilize crops and control pests, diseases, and weeds? Organic farmers build healthy soils by nourishing the living component of the soil, the microbial inhabitants  that release, transform, and transfer nutrients. Soil organic matter contributes to good soil structure and water-  holding capacity. Organic farmers feed soil biota and build soil structure and water-holding capacity. Organic  farmers build soil organic matter with cover crops, compost, and biologically based soil amendments. These  produce healthy plants that are better able to resist disease and insect predation. Organic farmers' primary strategy in controlling pests and diseases is prevention through good plant nutrition  and management. Organic farmers use cover crops and sophisticated crop rotations to manage the field ecology, effectively disrupting habitat for weeds, insects, and disease organisms. Weeds are controlled through crop rotation, mechanical tillage, and hand-weeding, as well as through cover  crops, mulches, flame weeding, and other management methods. Organic farmers rely on a diverse population  of soil organisms, beneficial insects, and birds to keep pests in check. When pest populations get out of balance,  growers implement a variety of strategies such as the use of insect predators, mating disruption, traps and  barriers. Under the National Organic Program Rule, growers are required to use sanitation and cultural  practices first before they can resort to applying a material to control a weed, pest or disease problem. As a last  resort, certain botanical or other non-synthetic pesticides may be applied. Is organic food safe? Yes. Organic standards set strict guidelines on manure use in organic farming. Can I use chemical fertilizers in organic production?   Artificial fertilizers are not allowed in organic production. Organic means no sprays, no fertilizers, you just let crops grow right? Wrong - Organic production requires you to develop an integrated production system Do organic farmers take any precautions when they apply manure on organic farms?   Yes. Raw manure and other animal and plant material must be handled in a way that prevents water, soil and  crop contamination. In order to be applied without a days-to-harvest restriction, manure must be properly  composted. How are organic manures beneficial in the cultivation of crops? Organic manures increase the organic matter in the soil. However, organic manures should not be seen only as  carriers of plant food. These manures also enable a soil to hold more water and also help to improve the  drainage in clay soils. They provide organic acids that help to dissolve soil nutrients and make them available  for the plants.  Can animals be converted to organic production at the same time as the land?   Yes. Livestock operations may convert animals with the land on which they are pastured. Must organic farmers use organic seeds?   Yes. Is all organic produce "pesticide-free?"   Yes. Pesticide residues are rarely detected on organic produce, and are certainly well below levels on  conventionally produced food. What do I get from organic farming?   First off food is nutritional and safe. Research shows that organic products have more minerals, less water and  less artificial chemicals. So the taste is generally more natural. Organic vegetables usually contain higher level of Vitamin C, protein and other minerals. Do organic farmers ever use pesticides? Prevention is the organic farmer’s primary strategy for disease, weed, and insect control. By building healthy  soils, organic farmers find that healthy plants are better able to resist disease and insects. Organic producers  often select species that are well adapted for the climate and therefore resist disease and pests. When pest  populations get out of balance, growers will try various options like insect predators, mating disruption, traps,  and barriers. If these fail, the certifier may apply botanical or other non-persistent pest controls under  restricted conditions may grant permission. What are bio-pesticides? Bio-pesticides are pesticides derived from natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and minerals. But how can we farm without chemicals?   Recycling of organic wastes like straw and grass and animal excreta makes great fertilizer. Growing the crops  that are native to the region usually ensures that the plants already have high resistance to the local pests. Pests  are reduced through multiple-cropping and using bio-pesticides. Building up populations of beneficial insects is  a tried-and-true method of pest control. What is wrong with normal chemical farming?  Normal chemical farming has much that is wrong with it. Modern chemical dependent farming has huge  ecological costs, is bad for the health of the farmer and his/her family and affects the health of the people who  eat the food. Every year the pests grow resistant to the pesticides and the soil fertility falls.
© Heera Fertilizerrs 2014