Popular market and the government policies that construct it as well as the trade agreements collude with the huge companies, deprive the livelihoods of farmers. To get relieved of their hold we need to think differently. Constructive, honest and transparent markets only can extend help for the farmers and consumers. We have been continuously learning about such kind of markets.
We cannot strictly define the regulations for alternative market that it should abide by. There is no need for the organizations that successfully operate alternative markets to open branches in many places. At the same time, they should create awareness among the consumers about the significance of the alternative markets and importance of healthy food. Awareness can also be created by conducting traditional food festivals.
The price of organic farm products should not be fixed based on the price of popular market. It’s better to allow the farmers to fix the price. The price can be fixed based on the production cost and allowing fair profit. Even in that case, farmers should directly market their products.
Similarly, those who wish to have retail trade with organic products need not go for bigger investment and more products. There are many mega shops created on loan that disappeared within a few years of establishment due to bankruptcy. Proper and gradual growth will only sustain them. There is no need to have the organic shops only on the main roads. Only those who have a better understanding about organic products and those who are concerned about the farmers and care about health look for organic shops. Therefore they will go in search of them wherever they are. Further, the rent will be lesser if the shop is farther inside. There is no need for interior decorations and air conditioning for organic shops. Only those shops that are maintained cleanly attract customers even if the shops are small. At the same time, the shops should compulsorily have traditional farm products and healthy organic products. Cereals, minor millets, gram varieties, spice products, and value added products should be available in those shops. Vegetables and fruits can be sold weekly twice. Herbal products and cosmetics can be introduced gradually for sales.
We should ensure that through selling non poisonous food products the farmers are able to get fair price. With that intention the consumers should be campaigned. The consumers should also know where the products come from. The products for the shops should be procured directly from the farmers. We should box or pack the products. Though this will add to our drudgery there is considerable profit for the farmers. The customers can be sustained through supplying quality products.
Rent for the shop, salary and telephone bills should be within 10% of the total sales. Transport and wastage cost should be below 7%. The consolidated amount of the value of the products in the shop, cash in hand and the balance amount to be received on sales should remain more than the total loan on the shop and remaining amount to be paid to the farmers. The farmers should not be made to wait for payment. They should be paid immediately. This will facilitate good relationship with the farmers.
We can attend on interior decorations and use of computers only when the sales increase in the shop. By using computers the calculations will remain clear and we can get some statistics out of them. Abiding with the legal regulations, getting Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) certification, registering under shops and establishment act, paying taxes like GST and getting license for weighing machines will help the shop sustain successfully for long.
Pest attack will be more with organic farm products. Therefore, farm products should be preserved based on the weather condition and the environment surrounding the shop. The products like rice, wheat and gram varieties should be frequently sieved, removing the pests and stock them safely. They can be easily preserved by drying them under the sun.
Further infection can also be prevented. Dry chilies, clove, turmeric, lemon grass and neem leaves can be introduced in the bags of cereals to prevent them from pests. It is essential to protect the products from the rodents like rats and mouse.
Taking care of all these aspects and supervising the operations for the organic shops directly thereby gaining experiential lessons will help the shops run successfully.
(To be continued)
How much can be spent on shops?
A few suggestions on how much should be spent on establishing an organic market:
It is calculated approximately based on the shop rent prevailing in the interior part of bigger cities like Chennai, Tiruchi and Coimbatore.
Shop rent can be from Rs 5000 to 8000. It is good to have a small shop at the beginning.
The worth of products to be stocked in the shop could be from Rs 50,000to75,000. Without investing more, one should increase the sale of products gradually.
Investment on storing facility for the products like containers and implements should be from Rs 30,000 to 50,000. It can be increased gradually based on the need.
One can hire a person for a salary of Rs 10,000 at the beginning and the numbers can be increased gradually based on the increase in sales.
Expenditure for cleaning, packing and transport should be within 10% of the total worth of products.
To start with, Rs 5000 can be spent on advertising.
For the attention of consumers …
The consumers should learn about the farmers from whom the products sold in the organic shops are procured. It is better than depending on the organic certification. Whether the product is organically grown or not can be found out based on the quality and taste of the farm products. It is easier to find out that the product is adulterated when the price of the value added product is found to be lesser than their original product. At the same time, there is a chance to sell the adulterated products at the higher rate. Therefore one should be cautious about it.
If one comes to know that there are chemicals or other unknown materials being added to the value added products, those products should be avoided. Use of polythene bags should be avoided in the shops. One should not develop trust on a product just because the product has photographs of a popular swami, yoga gurus or celebrities on its label.
(This series of articles written in Tamil by Ananthu for Pasumai Vikatan magazine dt 10th Oct 2017 has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)