ORGANIC FARMING IN INDIA
India is one of the largest country dependent both on farming and producing hectares of products from its large farmlands. So it shouldn’t come as a shocker that India would be a front runner in organic farming as well. With its ever growing middle class in the metropolitan’s and awareness about one’s health, slowing but surely organizations have found customers for this niche market.
Contrary to the popular belief, organic products have witnessed a great demand globally and locally. Weekend farmer markets witness health enthusiasts and those who would like to experiment with the concept of “farm to table”, in large numbers and include these products in their daily diet.
OVERVIEW OF ORGANIC FARMING
With the ever increasing use of insecticides and pesticides have led to deteriorating effects on farmlands and adverse effects on human health, organic farming has come as a lifesaving alternative and sustainable solution in the long run. It relies on fertilizers of organic origin such as compost manure, green manure, and bone meal and places emphasis on techniques such as crop rotation and companion planting.
Organic farming started to get popular at the turn of the millennial and since 1990 the market for organic food and other products has grown rapidly, reaching $63 billion worldwide in 2012. This demand has driven a similar increase in organically managed farmland that grew from 2001 to 2011 at a compounding rate of 8.9% per annum. As of 2016, approximately 57,800,000 hectares (143,000,000 acres) worldwide were farmed organically, representing approximately 1.2 percent of total world farmland.
Organic farming is not an altogether new concept in the sub-continent and especially in India. With more than half the country working in the agricultural sector, old methods with less toxic pesticides, use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (bio fertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable production in an eco-friendly pollution free environment were used; but with ever increasing demand for a higher yield in less time, changes had to be made and new methods were introduced. But things have come in a full circle, wherein old methods are again introduced for a better quality rather than quantity yield.
Organic farming does not mean going ‘back’ to traditional methods. Many of the farming methods used in the past are still useful today. Organic farming takes the best of these and combines them with modern scientific knowledge.
INDUSTRY IN INDIA
India as a market has always been very acceptable to new ideas; whether popular or not. The same goes with this field as well. Small entrepreneurs are the front runners and profit making side in this niche market. Large corporates have still not given full concentration to this concept (given its size) but with the estimates and growing popularity there’s more to be seen.
According to TechSci Research report, Global organic food market stood at $ 110.25 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 16.15%, in value terms, during 2017 – 2022, to reach $ 262.85 billion by 2022.
WHY PEOPLE WANT ORGANIC PRODUCTS
- People have become more curious regarding the origin of the food they buy and want to be more knowledgeable about it.
- With the ever increasing health issues, people have realised that they have to go back to the basics, that is eating food with less toxicities
- People are not hesitant to pay a bit more extra if they see the value in those products (low fat milk, sustainable growing of vegetables, etc )
- Organic farming which makes it sustainable for the environment without compromising on the quality of the produce.
National Centre of Organic Farming (NCOF) under Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for implementation of National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF). Organic pulses and food grains dominated demand for organic food in the country since 2015 and it is believed that the segment is anticipated to continue dominating the market through 2021.
With the phenomenal growth in area under organic management and growing demand for wild harvest products India has emerged as the single largest country with highest arable cultivated land under organic management. India has also achieved the status of single largest country in terms of total area under certified organic wild harvest collection. With the production of more than 77,000 MT of organic cotton lint India had achieved the status of largest organic cotton grower in the world a year ago, with more than 50% of total world’s organic cotton.
Some urban dwellers have also introduced the concept and are seeing success with the crop yield as well as from the business point of view. This has also given rise to selling of organic products as a e-commerce business thus saving the producers extra warehousing costs. Rooftop terraces have become the new business model for these organic and environmental enthusiasts.
A lot of organizations start from scratch whether it’s information about starting the process or investment so it takes a lot of time for building the process. But it once it goes off the ground their produce is also exported to organic chains and retailers in other parts of the world.
Although, commercial organic agriculture with its rigorous quality assurance system is a new market controlled, but it has grown almost 25-30% per year during last 10 years. The movement started with developed world is gradually picking up in developing countries. But demand is still concentrated in developed and most affluent countries. Maybe, currently it’s not the solution for everyone in the country but the start has been made.
Local demand for organic food is growing. India is poised for faster growth with growing domestic market. Success of organic movement in India depends upon the growth of its own domestic markets. India has traditionally been a country of organic agriculture, but the growth of modern scientific, input intensive agriculture has pushed it to wall. But with the increasing awareness about the safety and quality of foods, long term sustainability of the system and accumulating evidences of being equally productive, the organic farming has emerged as an alternative system of farming which not only address the quality and sustainability concerns, but also ensures a debt free, profitable livelihood option.