Organic Farming practices are in India for centuries and there are many parts of the country where people only prefer to eat Organic (such as Sikkim). As the awareness level has been rising among people nowadays at a very fast pace because of easy access to mass information through the internet, people know how organic products are produced and how they are beneficial for them. As a result of this, more and more people in India are going for organic then traditional and organic market has been increasing. The rise in consumption of organic products is so much that total consumption of organic products in the last couple of years has exceeded total consumption of organic products over the last few decades. But as per the statistical data available, the total percentage of the food market for organic products in India is still not more than two percent. Whereas, in developed countries like USA, Germany, France, China, Canada, and many others, the food market for organic products is in multiple billion dollars.
Well, as we know that organic are good for help, tastes great and organic agriculture, farming is even better for the farmers as it not only helps in maintaining the productivity of soil, but also good income-wise, because organic farming involves the use of modern techniques and latest technology for reducing costs and help in sustaining energy. It is good for the environment including land, water and air, which means good for all types of ecosystem and can’t cause any kind of harm to any species. Even after all these benefits, why still Organic makes such a small percentage of the total food market. What is stopping it? Is there some problem in the production and distribution? Or are there other reasons?
Apart from the fact that Organic food products are comparatively expensive, non-availability of them is also considered a major factor for small market of organic. Even in most of the known supermarkets in India like Big Bazaar, Reliance, Easyday, Food Bazaar, Spencer, etc., organic food products only make 3 to 5% of the total food products available there. When it comes to farmers, many don’t go for organic because of less yield. There are a huge percentage of farmers in India who are poor or even below the poverty line, who are small farmers, who carries their operations on a small piece of land and so in order to maintain their living, they need high and fast yield from that small piece of land. Whereas the yield from organic farming is almost half in comparison to the yield from non-organic agricultural farming and in a country where more than 20 crores of people sleep in hunger every night and more than 1 crore people dies every year because of incessant hunger, there is constant pressure on farmers to provide as much supply of food as possible in order to fulfill the demand.
Is there a way to solve this problem? Can we get the benefits of organic farming with the productivity of conventional farming? I think maybe yes. I don’t have direct solutions for increasing the organic produce from next season, but I have some strong points. If we start giving due consideration to them, then it may be possible to transform our whole agricultural system.
1. Research is a huge part of agricultural activities in all the countries. Techniques, machines, equipments are built every year to ease workload on farmers, to increase productivity, etc. But mostly, only rich farmers get benefited from these developments (except in case some technology is provided by Government for free to all or some farmers or grant is given by Government to farmers for the purchase of technology). Whereas, the amount spend by various countries in research and development in agriculture sector is in billion dollars. Research on Organic made only a very small percentage of total research value, that is only five percent of the total. So, the proposition is that if we could transfer our resources from normal agricultural research to organic agricultural research, then there is a great possibility that we would be able to find some solution to get high productivity even from organic farming.
2. There is data proposing that for every 3 ounces of food (including everything from meat, fruits and vegetables to grains, etc.), 1 ounce get wasted, which means, one-third of the total world’s produce get wasted every year. This wastage is a result of loss during distribution due to inappropriate warehousing resulting in the perishing of food items, loss in domestic consumption, etc. Sustainability is the key here. Necessary Infrastructural changes in the agricultural sector are required to be made. With proper infrastructure and with a mindset of using goods sustainably, even with less productivity, we can fulfill the hunger of the whole world.
3. Even the wastage of food in the world is enormous, still as I said earlier, there are millions of people that die of hunger every year. Poor people from rural areas get affected the most from in this. And more than 60% of our country’s population are in rural areas. This means our food generation and supply system is really ineffective. In order to tackle this situation, we have to come up with a system in which we not only makes sure that the produce reach to everyone, but to teach these rural people technical know-how, provide them tools and equipments and necessary knowledge so that they would be able to produce their own food for themselves. And as they would be producing for themselves in their own piece of land, organic techniques would be perfect there.