The objectives of the study were to study the environmental impacts (including soil fertility, degree of salinity and water quantity) of a public private partnership between the sugarcane growers and the local sugar mill in Punjab for organic sugarcane production. The study also aimed at assessing the challenges faced by the sugarcane growing community during diversion period from conventional to organic farming and also to learn about the economic impacts including the total production costs, costs for input, loan s to finance the cultivation, yields, profitability.
The organic sugarcane project was started on relatively poor soil. Moreover, soils in the selected sites were coarse textured and did contain negligible organic matter. After cultivating the sugarcane organically for almost 3-4 years, the soil quality was improved due to the activities of microbial inoculants. The shortage of water was overcome through interest free loans for tube well installment for growers in the selected circles by the mill. The farmers are usually indulged in the debt spiral due to rising costs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in conventional farming. On the other hand, organic agriculture is more feasible because of its reduced input cost. The study also emphasizes that the mill should offer fair premium prices to compensate for less yields, otherwise there is less likelihood to improve the growers’ livelihoods.
According to this study, organic farming in Pakistan can be a viable solution only, if input cost can be reduced either through subsidies or through public-private partnership. In addition, there is a strong need to formulate a policy on the organic farming. To meet the high transition cost, the organic farming projects can be replicated in agriculture sector with the support from government, donors, non-governmental organizations and community based organizations.