Let us disseminate organic markets!
This is the concluding part of the series of deliberations about the politics behind the popular market and the opportunities for successful organic agriculture markets as well as alternative markets …
With regard to the market for organic agriculture product, it is a challenging task to create reliability of the products among the consumers. Mostly, there is a notion among the public that organic certification is the only way to ensure organic production. But farmers have to spend considerable amount to gain organic certification. Further, they are forced to follow difficult procedures. But it is possible to create reliability of organic products among the consumers by way of creating awareness among the consumers and by declaring openly about the farmers from whom the product was procured. In addition, the market should function in a way to provide benefit to everyone. We have already seen some of the organizations that operate on these premises. We should learn about such organizations and their operations and start operating by modifying those premises that suit our local needs. It is imperative to take organic markets to the public as a movement.
At the same time, there should be awareness among the consumers. They should not blindly believe that a particular product is organic based on some weird ideas. Some organic shops use chemicals as preservatives, fill fruit juices in plastic bottles and sell them. Further, they sell many products including fruits and oils imported from abroad. These are some of the activities that make the fundamentals of organic production questionable. Therefore, one should not trust a product as organic based on the organic certificate or on the basis of popular brands. It is essential to know about the details of ingredients used in the product. If needed, it is better to gather as a consumer group and send doubtful products to testing labs to ensure their integrity. By these methods, wrongful practices can be identified and weeded out and only products with complete organic origin can be sold in the stores.
By encouraging organic markets, products that are not chemically contaminated, that is without colorants and adulterants can be ensured for selling. We can also ensure fair price for the products as they are directly procured from the farmers.
While establishing such kinds of organic shops, it is important to make use of the government schemes promptly that support establishment of warehouses, drying platform, stocking centers, and also product based loans. Patience and collective efforts are essential to establish such organic markets. Pasumai Vikatan has been serving as a platform to carry out such efforts.
When I returned to India leaving my job abroad, I toured throughout the country to meet various groups of people including organic farmers, representatives of organic agriculture consortiums. During the tour I met many organic farmers in Tamil Nadu. When I enquired them about the reason for their switch over to organic farming they mentioned two names that kept on resounding alternately, Nammalwar and Pasumai Vikatan.
Pasumai Vikatan is an institutional movement and Nammazhwar, an individual movement. These two movements played a key role in taking organic agriculture to the remote corners of Tamil Nadu. The contribution of Pasumai Vikatan is immeasurable in terms of creating awareness, organizing training programs, and identifying successful organic farmers and institutions. I wish to register here strongly that only Pasumai Vikatan revived the dignity of farmers. Those farmers and markets mentioned in Pasumai Vikatan tend to get more appreciations. Our Restore shop is such an example.
When considered globally, there are more who turned towards organic farming only after reading the book of Masanobu Fukuoka, ‘The one straw revolution’. It is my opinion that equal number of people would have switched over to organic farming by reading Pasumai Vikatan. In that sense, Pasumai Vikatan is a unique effort by the Vikatan group. That is why, during the recent world conference on organic farming, the leader of OFAI, Claude Alvares praised the contribution of Pasumai Vikatan.
My hearty thanks to Pasumai Vikatan that holds great accolades for its support on organic farming, urging me to write a series with its title, Price and Produce, giving due importance to its content, and to the editorial team for refining the series, designers and photographers. I thank my friend Saravanan for editing the series. My thanks to the readers who continued reading the series, conducted dialogues with me, and who participated in creating right understanding and disseminating it. The socially committed service of Pasumai Vikatan should continue.
Concluding a series does not mean that either Pasumai Vikatan or I concluded our efforts towards disseminating organic agriculture. It’s a long journey. There should be contribution by every one of us. As the organic farmers are dispersed all over Tamil Nadu, they are unable to join together. The number of organic shops that serve as a bridge between the producers and consumers is meager.
Therefore we should take up the responsibility of structuring and guiding the organic markets available in the metro cities and small towns of Tamil Nadu. Beyond organic food products, other activities like handicrafts, lectures, debates, film shows should also be included so that it is celebrated like a festival. The organic markets should integrate the farmers and consumers of their respective places. Let all those who are interested and committed to organic farming come together and disseminate organic markets!
Let us hope to meet once again!
For contact: Anant
Mobile: 94441 66779
(This series of articles written in Tamil by Ananthu for Pasumai Vikatan magazine dt 25th Dec 2017 has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)