This is a series that discusses the politics behind popular markets and the opportunities for successful organic agriculture markets as well as alternative markets
In India, the sale of organic agriculture products has been increasing by 30% for the past few years. It is estimated that the sale of organic agriculture products in India currently ranges from 3000 to 5000 crores. And it is also predicted that the sale can double within next two years.
But, it’s only 1% of the cultivable land area in the world that has been used for organic farming which amounts to 10,75,000,00 Hectare. The first three countries predominantly involved in organic farming are Australia (1,72,00,000 Ha), Argentina (32,00,000 Ha) and America (22,00,000 Ha).
There are eleven countries that have brought 10% more of their total cultivable land area under organic farming. If we consider the number of farmers involved in organic farming only in India we have the highest. Of the total 20 lakh farmers globally about 6,50,000 farmers are from India.
The organic market has increased about 170% between 2002 and 2011. In 2013, the total worth of organic market was USD 7,200 crores. It still keeps growing. In the West organic products are sold about 30% more in terms of pricing than the chemically grown agro-products. If the number of consumers increases then their price will come down. It’s applicable to Indian too.
It might seem that the organic agro-products are sold at higher price because the farmers are given fair price and the production of organic agro-products remain lesser than the current demand. But that’s not true. These poison-free food products include medical insurance as well. That means, those who consume these products need not spend on doctors and drugs, visiting the hospitals frequently. There are many benefits of consuming organic agro-products as they are rich in minerals and nutrients. It will lead to increase in individual productivity. That leads to saving of money and time.
It’s appropriate to provide fair price for the products that are poison-free. But there is a common question from all of us about how to fix right price for the organic products and above that, how to ensure that the products are truly organically produced.
During the olden days of trading, there were small trading that were mutually beneficial and based on non-greed. Even in a few many years ago there were instances when we approached the street corner provision shop asking for oil, the shopper would respond saying there would be delay of three or four days in getting oil extracted from manual oil mill as the manufacturer was busy arranging wedding at their home. That means there were close relationship built among the three stakeholders, the producer, supplier and consumer. It led to fair dealing, without any mismanagement. There were no exploitations or evasions. There were well meant responsibilities complied by the sellers. But it’s upside down now.
With the current scenario of commercialization of everything, including medicine and education, misappropriation and exploitations remain ubiquitous. Similar trend is found with organic markets as well. It’s we who should find the right market. In India, most of the organic farmers complain that they do not have market opportunities for their products. At the same time, there lingers fear of losing the organic market to the hands of greedy corporates.
We have lost all our valuable aspects of traditional small business, and its positive side of nurturing neighborhood economics and rural development. What we should eat is determined by the advertisements and corporates. And we follow their steps. The farmers need to come together and make efforts should we need to change this appalling trend. We will be able to travel in the right direction only when there are revival of collective efforts, right people and honest endeavors. Collective effort is the only means to confront the challenges of current market trend and its problems. There are many collective efforts taken in many parts of the world that led to successful examples of right solution to stop this devious trend. Before getting into those stories of success the farmers should be able to realize themselves.
We should be able to understand that the ‘self reliance’ lies in the hands of farmers when they produce what they need to have. There will be enormous saving if they understand it practically and produce what is needed for them and their families.
There will be a drastic change if they operate sending only the surplus to the market from what they produce for themselves. When it happens, the gap between the producer and consumer will narrow down considerably. Both will gain benefits. Above all, quality products will reach the consumers. Only by crossing these close knit structures it can then reach the remote markets in the cities. There will be hassles in making such efforts. That does not preclude the farmers from enjoying the benefits of urban solace. It’s enough to remain adequate.
(To be continued)
(This article series written by Ananthu for Pasumai Vikatan has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)