Market access is critical to upscale India’s organic and natural farming movement

Echoed a panel of experts while discussing CSE’s latest report on market access for organic and natural produce 

  • Market access for organic and natural produce in India continues to remain a big concern along with the challenge of transition to organic and natural farming
  • CSE’s latest report highlights the possibilities and challenges related to Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), retail food corporations, and state food programmes in helping farmers access the market
  • Experts highlighted the need for coherence in certification and building trust among consumers,the importance of aggregation through Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), value addition and shorter supply chains for better price realization, need for more support through government-led schemes for FPOs for working capital needs of FPOs  

New Delhi, June 22, 2023: “Market access is critical for the success of India’s momentum towards organic and natural farming. Lately, our policymakers have been talking about growing food through organic and natural farming. But unless farmers get assured access to market to sell their produce at a remunerative price, the challenge of transition will remain difficult to overcome,” said Amit Khurana, head of Centre for Science and Environment’s sustainable food systems programme. 

Khurana was speaking here yesterday at an official e-release of CSE’s new report -- Market Access in India for Organic and Natural Produce: Case Studies.The report was launched at a webinar organised by CSE. Besides Khurana, speakers at the webinar included some of India’s key experts and entrepreneurs -- Dinesh Balam, state coordinator, Odisha Millet Mission; Akash Badave, chief executive officer, Bhoomgaadi Organic Farmers Produce Company; GV Ramanjaneyulu, expert director, Sahaja Aharam Producer Company; Rajashekar Reddy Seelam, managing director, Sresta Natural BioproductsPvt Ltd (24 Mantra); and Manoj Gupta, principal scientist, State Project Implementing Unit, PrakritikKhetiKhushhalKisanYojna. 

Through carefully selected six case studies,the CSE report highlights three categories of stakeholders: FPOs/federation of FPOs, food retail corporations and state government programmes – how they procure, process and sell organic and natural produce while trying to ensure remunerative prices to farmers. It also discusses some of the challenges faced by them. 

The case studies include Bhoomgaadi Farmers Producer Company Limited, Dantewada, Chhattisgarh; Sahaja Aharam Producer Company Limited, Hyderabad, Telangana, SrestaBioproducts Limited(24 Mantra), Hyderabad; bigbasket; Odisha Millet Mission; and PrakritikKhetiKhushhalKisan Yojana, of Himachal Pradesh  

“We need to work with consumers for behaviour change towards organic produce. As in the case of millets, wherein people are getting more aware about it, governments should make more efforts. Says Akash Badave, while highlighting the challenges due to remoteness of the location where Bhoomgaadi operates. 

“We need coherence in the different certification systems like PGS [Participatory Guarantee System-India] and third-party NPOP certification [National Programme for Organic Production]. We are facing challenges in acceptability of PGS certification system. FPOs also need government support for working capital, dedicated infrastructure and support for capacity building”, added Badave. 

“Existing ecosystem is not in favour of small and marginal farmers, leave aside organic. Unless ecosystem supports, expecting that FPOs can manage all the business by themselves is too much at this point in time”,said Ramanjaneyulu, while commenting on the readiness of the FPOs and their importance in upscaling the organic and natural movement. 

“We need to expand value addition and move towards shorter supply chains for better price realisation by farmers.FPOs can help in both”, addedRamanjaneyulu when asked about how can farmers realise better price.

Sharing perspective on the issue of affordability, Rajshekhar Reddy Seelam pointed out that “Organic is 40-50 per cent more expensive for theright price to farmers, certification costs, storage costs etc. Organic farmers don’t get all the benefits conventional farmers get in terms of subsidies.”

“The key to stabilising prices is unlocking consumer demand. If there is demand, farmers are ready to produce”, added Seelam

“The organic price is the real price without any support or subsidy. If more FPOs come, production will increase, and more produce will reach more consumers”, added Ramanjaneyulu

“Lack of market access should not be allowed to become a barrier in India’s journey towards non-chemical farming practices, which are good for the farmer, nature and the human health” pointed CSE researchers in the report. 

Link to the report, presentation and the webinar video click here: