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Growing organic market beckons to India’s rural farmers

Indian farmers have started to reap dividends from their budding interest in organic farming. It wasn’t long back, around seven years ago, when Indian farmers started to go organic.

In 2006-07, around 4.32 lakh ha reported organic produce — a large portion came from wild and non-agricultural land — which has now reached around 11 lakh ha, as per the recent report ‘The World of Organic Agriculture, 2013’ by FiBL and IFOAM (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements).

“The growth rate has reached around 20% per year, much higher than early expectations,” says Krishan Chandra, director, National Centre of Organic Farming.

The current market for organic foods in India is pegged at Rs.2,500 crore, which according to ASSOCHAM, is expected to reach Rs.6,000 crore by 2015.

It’ll still leave us at 1% of the global market. Thus, a huge potential is seen in the nascent Indian organic sector.

“Apart from states like Sikkim or MP, we’re seeing a rising interest in Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, UP and Bihar,” says Chandra.

India outnumbers every other country in terms of organic producers — with an estimated 5,47,591.

Organic products, which until now were mainly being exported, are now finding consumers in the domestic market.

“Even Tier II cities like Nagpur, Allahabad, Gorakhpur and Bhatinda show an increase in organic consumption,” says Sunil Kumar, AGM at Morarka Rural Research Foundation.

According to a survey of 1,000 consumers in ten cities done by Morarka Organic Foods, around 30% of Indian consumers preferred organic products and were even prepared to pay 10 to 20% more for them.

“Soil abused by chemical fertiliser excesses takes more time to produce comparable yields. Although, the cost of organic cultivation is much less, reducing cost incurred in purchasing costly inputs,” says Rohitashwa Ghakar, Project Head, International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture.

OFAI (Organic Farming Association of India) : Organic Farming in INDIA

Organic farming in India is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control. Organic farming is done using only natural and organic materials. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Increasing environmental awareness in the general population has transformed the originally supply-driven movement to a demand-driven one. Most of the western countries import coco peat blocs from India.

OFAI was set up by the Indian organic farming community, environmentalists and social activists in order to promote organic farming, lobby for its official adoption by the Indian government, assist farmers dependent on chemicals to convert to organic systems, help organic farmers with marketing their organic produce and advise its members on how to educate their children outside the urban-oriented school system so that they could be excellent stewards of the lands they inherit.

Advantages of using organic foods

  • Health: Organic foods are produced without the use of pesticides that could cause serious illnesses
  • Good for the animals: People who eat organic are happy to know the animals are not confined to a caged life, pumped full of hormones, or treated badly.
  • Environmental Safety: Harmful chemicals are not used in organic farming, and there is minimal soil, air, and water pollution being produced. Also, many organic farmers donate/support causes to help save the planet.
  • Better taste: Most people strongly believe organic foods taste better than non-organic foods. This could be because they are much fresher.

Many people are realizing the benefits of eating organic and are trying to do their part by buying all of their foods organic.