Market access is key for organic farming growth in India: CSE Report

The report titled 'Market Access for Organic and Natural Produce' by Centre for Science and Environment says that better marketing options and access to markets are inalienable for organic farming movement in India.

A new report by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has held that there is a lack of efforts in developing better marketing strategies and market access which is hampering the growth of organic farming in the country. The report titled ‘Market Access for Organic and Natural Produce’, states that the transition from conventional farming to organic & natural farming has been getting more traction of late but more is required to get the farmers better marketing options and better markets to sell their produce.

Amit Khurana, Director, Sustainable Food Systems Programme, CSE, said during the launch of the report, “Most ongoing initiatives focus on the transition through capacity-building and incentives. But a lot needs to be done to provide better markets through a structured approach.” The webinar event was attended by farmers, FPOs, and other stakeholders involved in organic farming.

The report has talked about six selected case studies that have helped the growth of organic farming via different marketing processes.

G V Ramanjaneyulu, Executive Director, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (Hyderabad) and board member of Sahaja Aharam Producer Company Limited which is a, federation of 19 FPOs, said, “FPOs certainly help, more so if federated, as they have the potential to augment resources, help more farmers grow food organically, leverage technology, bring efficiency in systems and help farmers earn more through shorter supply chains by bringing producer and consumer together.”

Chhattisgarh’s Akash Badave, CEO, Bhoomgadi Organic Farmers Produce Company, said that the FPO through a different marketing strategy could sell the farm products that are exclusively produced in remote areas of Dantewada. The marketing approach has helped more than 2700 farmers from 122 villages find better markets.

Badave said during the event that consumer education is very important to help the cause of the organic farming movement in the country. “A lot of work until now has been done with the farmers. Now, we need to work very closely with the consumers, aggregating consumers, changing the behaviour, changing the attitudes and expectations,” said Badave.

State coordinator of Odisha Millet Mission, Dinesh Balam, said that they are using the chain of women led self-help groups to ensure proper cleaning of millets post-harvest and create awareness among end users to increase household consumption of millets.

The CSE report has also devoted a chapter on BigBasket that sells products from 70 different organic brands online.

The organic farming is at nascent stage in India and the country presently has mere 4.43 million organic farmers tilling some 5.91 million hectares of land. This is just 4% of the net sown area. The Union Budget 2023-24 wants to add 10 million more organic farmers in India in the coming three years. CSE has found that lack of knowledge and non-availability of quality organic & bio-inputs are other key reasons that hinder organic farming growth in India.

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