TIRUNELVELI/ TENKASI: Banking on the demand of organic products, 32-year-old Aravind from Pazhavoor left his IT job in Chennai and bought 17 acres to grow organic vegetables. The land, which he and his wife bought, brought in a good yield but failed to bring in revenue. The reason? Their pesticide-free products were infested with the aftermath of the pandemic and poor marketing.
Like Aravind, many farmers in the district have been forced to take a break from organic farming as they are left in a lurch without a platform to showcase their products and the dwindling market ensuing the pandemic.
Seed Certification Department the 64 organic farmers of Tirunelveli and Tenkasi district, cultivating in 3200 acres, received certification for coconut, guava, amla, lime, pomegranate, moringa, vegetables, red banana, and coriander.
Perumal, an organic farmer from Panagudi says he faced losses in spite of a good yield. His native guavas were sold at Rs 12 per kilogram, the same price as guavas cultivated using chemicals and fertilizers. "The 93 guava trees had a good yield, but we were unable to sell even half of the products at market price. We faced nearly Rs 1.5 lakh losses for each for the two-acre land. The tomatoes we cultivate usually fetch a price of Rs 30 per kilogram but the same vegetable under the organic name was sold at Rs 70 per kilogram. We now cultivate bananas to break the cycle of loss," he added.
Aravind says the transportation has affected their distribution and stopped their profit in their tracks. "While our customer base was in Chennai, Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram, the pandemic affected the sale. The transportation affected the distribution. While we received organic certification for papaya, we had to sell it for Rs 15 per kilogram when the market price was Rs 40 per kilogram," he added.
Perumal says a marketing platform is the need of the hour. "For the organic farmers to sustain themselves as well as their products, a marketing platform or a government-approved shop for selling organic products should be opened in the district. The farmers in each region should work together to cultivate a variety of organic products and sell it at the market price with certification displayed so that the term organic cannot be used to sell other products fraudulently. The Seed Certification Department could open a store for certified products," added Perumal.
Responding to the appeal, Seed Certification Department said many new farmers were encouraged to take up organic farming. "The farmers applying for the certification the first time have to wait for three years to get their certificate. They also need to renew their certificate every year. If a government shop for organic products is opened, it could help the farmers," said an official.