An introduction to what makes organic food so expensive


The cost of organic foods is one of the main reasons for their low adoption rate among the masses. why are they so expensive? And is it possible to reduce their cost anytime soon?

If you regularly shop in supermarkets for your groceries and other household items, you would have probably seen that all organic things are much more expensive than their usual variations, be it food, toiletries, cosmetics or other products (see above chart of online retail prices of 500g of threshed rice (poha) for organic and non-organic varieties). You would probably also have noticed that Organic Sections are almost always sparsely populated compared to General Sections. It is evident that for the vast majority of people, the pricing issues outweigh the stated benefits of organic foods such as purity and safety.

But what makes organic food so expensive? At the Salon National Bio et Mils 2017, Your story spoke with various stakeholders in the organic food market to understand why the situation is going to change anytime soon.

Why the high cost

Organic foods are difficult to grow because they require a lot of involvement and more time to grow. In addition, the lower yields of these crops and the poor supply chain (still developing) further increase the cost of production. The post-harvest processing and handling of organic foods is an expensive business because the risk of contamination from chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc. from the water and neighboring farms is high. One of the biggest barriers to adopting organic farming is the high registration, accreditation and certification fees to become organic farmers.

Read also : Karnataka government gives humble millet a big basket

Solve the problem

Although some of the above reasons have been around for decades, government, cooperative societies and businesses are working together to increase organic farming adoption and organic food consumption in India.

One such body is the Uttarakhand Organic Commodity Board (UOCB), which was formed in 2013 to promote and coordinate dispersed organic activities for organic farming in the state. According to UOCB’s Pankaj Kumar, the organization has certified 1.5 lakh of farmers (with an area of ​​45 lakh hectares) in organic farming. The UOCB integrates the iinternal control system which allows associations or groups of producers to practice group certification, thus reducing the cost of certification. In addition, they also provide inputs based on their research and subsidized tools (for harvesting, agriculture, etc.).

Pankaj Kumar, Organic Uttarakhand

Nowadays, organic food may seem like a lucrative market to many, but there weren’t many organized players in the early 2000s. One of them, 24 Mantra Organic, claims to be the market leader. Organic food category market in India with almost two thirds of the market share. Today, the 15-year-old company works with 40,000 farmers on 245,000 hectares of land across the country on a contractual basis. But it was not easy for the company to get farmers to get into organic farming. Sunil Poovaiyah, Commercial Manager of Exclusive Stores in Karnataka, says:

One of our main goals is to provide sustainable livelihoods for farmers. We take care of the education of the children of our dedicated farmers, and also organize their health check-ups.

The company was unable to make a profit for the first 3-4 years due to the investments, but with increased market size and awareness, it is now aiming for increased profits.

Sunil Poovaiyah, Business Manager for Exclusive Stores in Karnataka, 24 Mantra Organic

Towards an organic (and sustainable) future

Ravi K, CEO, Organic Market Federation, Bangalore

Ravi K, CEO of Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural and Ramanagara Districts Regional Farmers Co-operative Union, has been involved in organic farming since 2004, but only formed the cooperative in November 2015. Under the name of Organic Market Federation , Bangalore, the cooperative operates in 32 hoblis (a hobli is a group of contiguous villages administered together for tax and land purposes). Each hobli has 100 hectares of organically farmed land and members (organic farmers) are supported to supply the products directly to businesses. This ensures shorter credit cycles and they are paid within 10 to 15 days.

According to a study Jointly led by industry lobby Assocham and private research firm TechSci Research in 2016, valued at $ 0.50 billion, the organic food market in India is expected to reach $ 1.36 billion by 2020. This will still represent less than 0.5% of the total agricultural market. size of India. There are many organizations across the country working to reduce (if not completely remove) the barriers to adopting organic farming.

With more research and favorable policies, it is hoped that the demand for organic food will not be driven solely by subways. After all, we only practiced organic farming until the 1970s. And given its sustainable nature, a step towards organic food (and agriculture) is a step towards a sustainable future.

Until the price of all things organic gets closer to their non-organic counterparts, let’s close that gap with awareness of the organic lifestyle.


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