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AGRICULTURE

Organic farming must be promoted akin to Green Revolution, states Singh
Tuesday, 27 March, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Organic farming should be promoted with the same spirit as the Green Revolution, as India is the country with the most organic producers. This was stated by Radha Mohan Singh, minister of agriculture and farmers’ welfare, Government of India, during his address at the Conference on Organic World: Advantage India, which was organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) and took place in New Delhi recently.

He added that the country should progress to be an organic and chemical-free nation.

Organic farming is a way of farming, which excludes the use of chemical fertilisers, insecticides, etc. It is primarily based on the principles of use of natural organic inputs and biological plant protection measures.

In the last six years, India has been increasingly supporting the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) for its national market, developing a unique example of large-scale government-facilitated PGS programme, coordinated by its National Centre for Organic Farming, under the agriculture ministry.

The government cannot promote organic farming alone. There are many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and organisations that have a crucial role to play. The data needs to be systematically collected through scientific methods, certification should be improved.

A joint study by ASSOCHAM and EY, which was titled The Indian Organic Market: A New Paradigm in Agriculture and released during the conference, revealed that the market size for Indian organic packaged food is expected to cross Rs 871 million by 2021 from Rs 533 million in 2016, growing at a rate of 17 per cent.

“The substantial growth of this sector is attributed to an expanding urban population base, rising health concerns, growing consumer spending on food products and deterioration of food quality,” it noted.

“Organic packaged food and beverages is an emerging niche market in India and its primary consumers are high-income urbanites. As demand for organic food in the metro cities increase, the companies in this sector are witnessing notable growth with the entry of several new players in the organic food market such as Conscious Foods, Sresta, Eco Farms, Organic India, Navdanya and Morarka Organic Foods,” said the study.

India-based Sresta Natural Bioproducts Pvt Ltd has emerged as the market leader, with a 37 per cent value share of the packaged organic food market and a 7.8 per cent share of the packaged organic beverage market.

“It has increased its share in the organic food market in recent years, while smaller niche players have taken a significant share away from it in the organic beverage market,” the study stated.

“In addition to the growing domestic market, India is the second largest exporter of organic products in Asia, after China. The increasing export market, coupled with the government’s support, has made organic cultivation in India highly successful”, said Amit Vatsyayan, partner, EY.

Indian organic food exports were estimated at $299 million in 2015-16, with a total volume of 2,63,688 metric tonne (MT).

“The major export destinations were the US, the European Union (EU), Canada and New Zealand. It is assumed that most of the remaining quantity is sold in local markets. Oilseeds comprised half of India’s overall organic food export, followed by processed food products at 25 per cent,” the study stated.

It added that India currently holds the ninth position among 178 countries that actively practice organic agriculture. At present, the country is home to over 8,35,000 organic producers, 699 processors, 669 exporters and 1.49 million hectare (ha) area under organic cultivation.

However, with only a meagre 0.4 per cent of the total agricultural land area designated for organic cultivation, the industry presents an extensive scope for expansion.

India has a remarkable potential to produce all varieties of organic products, owing to the existence of various agroclimatic zones within its borders. The total area under organic certification was 5.71 million ha in 2015-16. This included 26 per cent cultivable area with 1.49 million ha and 74 per cent (4.22 million ha) forest and wild area for collection of minor forest produce.

Among the states, Madhya Pradesh has the largest area under organic certification (4.62 lakh ha), followed by Maharashtra (1.98 lakh ha), Rajasthan (1.55 lakh ha), Telangana (1.04 lakh ha), Odisha (0.96 lakh ha), Karnataka (0.94 lakh ha), Gujarat (0.77 lakh ha) and Sikkim (0.76 lakh ha).

“These states had a combined share of 90 per cent of the area under organic certification in 2015-16,” highlighted the study.

In terms of organic crops, the combined share of the top 10 categories of organic food crops is around 99 per cent. The top four categories (with a share of about 85 per cent) include sugar, oilseed, fibres and cereals and millets.

“According to our findings, metropolitan cities have witnessed a 95 per cent increase in demand in the last five years,” said Vatsysyan.

“Many organic food companies are adopting the online route to expand their consumer base. The brick-and-mortar organic stores are usually located in metro and mini-metro cities. These companies are reaching out to the rest of the consumers through online channels,” he added.

Many organic food companies are coming up with new product categories and varieties to provide consumers with sufficient choices.

Apart from fruits, vegetables, teas, pulses and spices, companies have also introduced ready-to-eat snacks, cookies, medicinal plants and herbs and juices.

Additionally, increased organic alternatives can be observed in established product categories.
 
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