Intensive farming practices in India have led to soil degradation and declining yields, and contributed to the factors leading to farmers‘ suicides in Karnataka, India. Karnataka State Policy on Organic Farming (KSPoOF) was established to counter these problems. The aim of this research is to assess the impact of the policy on sustainability of different land use functions, and to show the possible consequences of the policy in future. Two districts were selected to compare the effects of the organic farming policy in different situations. Udupi is located in a coastal area with high rainfall and high living standard, while Bijapur is a drought prone area with relatively high suicide rate.
Multi-Criteria analysis (MCA) integrates multiple objectives and stakeholder preferences into one composite indicator. Eight indicators were selected to assess different Land Use Functions (LUFs) in the two districts: soil organic carbon (SOC), irrigation water electrical conductivity (EC), agro-biodiversity, income, probability of loan, food from farm, collective action, and equity. First, current situations on eight LUFs were compared based on the data sampled (1) in 2006 before the KSPoOF policy was introduced, (2) in 2009 for farms that had converted to organic practice (2009_P), and (3) in 2009 for farms that had not converted to organic practice (2009_N). Second, future scenarios with (2015_P) and without the organic policy (2015_N) in 2015 were projected by using multiple regression analysis based on the data of 2009_P and 2009_N, respectively. Finally, the eight indicators were integrated with weights gained from a stakeholders meeting into one sustainability index.
The results showed that agro-biodiversity and collective action increased significantly between 2006 and 2009 after the conversion in Udupi, while income and probability of loan were improved in Bijapur. The other indicators did not show significant difference. As a whole, the predicted values of indicators of 2015_P were higher (more positive) than those of 2015_N except equity in both districts. The main predictor of SOC and EC was rainfall, which naturally is not influenced by KSPoOF. Increased organic N input rate decreased debt in 2015_P in Bijapur, and increased collective action in Udupi. The number of animals, which KSPoOF promotes to increase, positively influenced projected value of annual income in Udupi, and financial dependency in Bijapur. The effect of KSPoOF on equity in 2015 was not clear. Stakeholders in Udupi consider equity the most important indicator, while food security was considered most relevant in Bijapur. Yet, aggregation of scores based on stakeholders‘ preference did not have so much influence on overall sustainability index as differences in weights between the indicators were relatively small.
In conclusion, evaluation of the current situation pointed at some positive effect of the organic policy on diversity of crop species on farms (‗agro-biodiversity‘) and on collective action in Udupi, and some economic indicators in Bijapur. It must be noted, however, that the time period of our analysis (2006-2009) is very short to measure effects of conversion. Projection for 2015 suggested that some indicators, such as collective action in Udupi and financial independency in Bijapur, can be improved by KSPoOF, but there were also many uncertainties. The effects of KSPoOF on SOC, EC and equity in 2015 were not clear in both districts.