I promised to write about the economics of organic farming.
And I know that many people are curiously waiting for it.
I also know that many people will be disappointed to read this and a few others will be (gleefully) delighted!
My standard disclaimer: For me, "organic farming" is an umbrella term for organic/natural/forest/biodynamic/permaculture etc. I consider all of them different ways of organic farming. After all, it is about not using chemicals for farming. I don't believe in being a "militant" in pushing any particular kind of organic farming and being judgmental. Each of them have their own advantages and it should be left to the discretion and convenience of the individual farmer based on several parameters. I follow a mix of all of the above organic farming methods. (I have also written earlier about Organic v/s Natural farming).
First thing first. I will keep the emotional/philosophical/intangible aspects aside while busting the myth. There is no money in organic farming, much like any other kind of farming. I have already written in detail earlier about why organic food is expensive. Obviously it doesn't lead to more money in the farmer's pocket. There could be some spikes some time due to unexpected reasons and that most probably gets wiped out in the next season before you finish your celebrations. However in the long run (which is not less than 10 years) there are several benefits (and money), provided you are in a position to sustain that long and put in your efforts to "productize" your produce and sell it directly to the end customer. There are quite a few people known to me who have demonstrated this possibility and they have literally taken decades and slogged it out to reach there. There are also some "community farming" approaches and collaborating with other similar farmers to make it work for our own better, which again is a long drawn process.
Note: The above statement is applicable only if you are starting on empty land or in a farm which was following conventional farming which needs to be converted to organic. The durations can be shortened if you start off with an organic farm.
Then what is it that drives people like us and keeps us motivated to start/continue organic farming? It is purely the lure of growing our own healthy food. It may or may not lead to "better life", depending on your perspective on better life and your reference point for the same. This is one of the intangible aspects of organic farming. It is also based on the hope that there will be a day when there will be more people doing organic farming, which can lead to synergy with the nature and ecosystem. You can also have the satisfaction of leaving the land in a better shape that what it was a few years before.
The biggest, yet somewhat intangible benefit of organic farming comes only if you are carrying it out in a land owned by you (not in a leased/rented land). That is the appreciation of the land price, which for sure will continue to happen as long as you take care of your land properly and make it more fertile over the years through organic means. In the worst case if you want to run away from all the struggle, you will be able to sell the land off for a handsome money.
To summarize, organic farming is a long-term game and you should be prepared to play it for the rest of your life to make its economics work for you. Till then, keep digging into your savings!