At an organic mango mela held in the city recently, visitors were treated to several varieties of the king of fruits grown without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers.
Prakash, a small farmer near Magadi who exhibited his produce at the expo, believes organic farming is the future. Aiming to cash in on the “increasing awareness about organic products”, he recently got an organic certification for two farms for `20,000 a year.
“I believe organic is the right way to do things. Also, people are ready to give a premium amount for organic food. With the current health situation, more people will be forced to turn organic,” he says.
While one of his farms is spread across three acres, another measures around one-and-a-half acres. Prakash grows leafy vegetables, pumpkin, beans, native horsegram, cowpea, urad dal, green gram and ragi on his land. “We try intercropping or grow them by turns and have seen positive results like more earthworms and other organisms in the soil. Earthworms cost `750 per kg and most other organisms in the soil have been destroyed by pesticides,” he says.
The Certification Process
Organic farming involves growing crops without using chemicals fertilisers and pesticides.
A farmer can get his produce certified as organic by a certification agency that will inspect his farming practices, give him guidelines to be followed and finally, endorse the farm. Then, the farmer can sell his produce with the ‘organic’ logo.
Narayana Upadhyaya of Aditi Organic Certifications Pvt Ltd, says for a company’s products to be ratified as organic, the firm has to be legally registered. “It must have a good internal quality control system established as per the applicable organic standards. We then certify them as organic for a period of one year for a fee. Small farmers are charged less for the process,” he explains.
Demand Yet to Grow
Yodish of Krishi Organics, a bulk supplier of organic food in India, says “We supply certified organic products in bulk to outlets in Bangalore. We also have our own retail brands and outlets. Right now, there is no huge money, we still need to promote the concept of organic food”.
Noting that organic food is garnering interest, he says consumers first look for a consistent supply and product genuineness while price comes next. “It is a question of prioritising health over other factors,” he adds.
Jaya, a writer, prefers buying organic products as they are said to be free of chemicals. She says, “I do look for the logo but don’t think organic products differ from non-organic ones in looks or taste. They are costlier by around `10 for a packet of grains”.
Vimla, a banker, feels organic products taste better and adds that her choice of groceries is influenced by the presence of chemical contaminants. Upadhyaya upholds organic farming for its role in preserving bio-diversity. “The multiple crop system and organic farming can feed the world population, while keeping all other natural resources unpolluted,” he adds.
THE ORGANIC SIGNS
■ Check for the logo that marks an organic product.
■ There are dedicated stores for organic products.
■ A packet of organic lentils may cost you an extra `10 compared to the non-organic variety.