Tag Archives: Organic farming

Seeds of lie-Monsanto

A cost benefit analysis of cotton cultivation using BT/ Non- BT seeds 





NOte: The field trip to Vidarbha was partially** sponsored by Monsanto during February 2013. The field study was undertaken while I worked with The New Indian Express, Bangalore. However, since they did not approve the story (idea), I waited for over a year to get this published in a different publication. 

The story is published in Geography and You magazine, March-April 2014 edition.


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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Uncategorized


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No organic support

BANGALORE: With organic farming addressing rural development and nature conservation effectively, people’s consciousness towards healthy food, ecology and pollution-free environment is increasing and accordingly the demand for organic food too is on the rise in Bangalore.

Despite the government taking initiatives to promote organic farming, there are no marketing linkages created exclusively for organic products. This eventually forces many farmers to sell their produce at lesser margins.

“Lack of marketing facilities is a major problem faced by the organic farming community in Karnataka. Unless the market linkages are strengthened, the demand-supply gap will widen,” said Dr K Ramakrishnappa, additional director and president, Jaivika Krishik Society.

In Karnataka, as per the State Policy on Organic Farming framed in 2006, the government was supposed to have strengthened the existing channels of marketing of agriculture/horticulture produces like SAFAL, APMC, HOPCOMS and KAPPEC to create separate markets for organic produce marketing.

In addition, the policy aimed at supporting direct marketing of organic produce from farmers’ associations, self-help groups and NGOs to buyers, and in providing subsidy for transport from point of production to customers. However, nothing has changed in the last five years, as no such facility has been made available for farmers around the state, except for the Jaivika Krishik Society set-up on Lalbagh premises in Bangalore.

“Though our products are certified, they do not fetch us much profit (relatively) as we spend money on transporting the goods to the customer point,” said Narasimha Reddy, a farmer from Gauribidanur Taluk of Chikkaballapur district in Karnataka.

“If the government provides a marketing platform, it might encourage many farmers to practice organic farming and sustainable agriculture,” he added.

The government officials attribute irregular and short supply of produce as a reason for not setting up a separate marketing unit. “It is irregular and we do not get adequate supply of organic produce. Hence setting up a marketing unit at this stage is very difficult and will not be beneficial. It will take another 4-5 years to come up with such a facility,” said Shakeel Ahmed, Deputy Director, Department of Horticulture in Chikkaballapur taluk.

In contrast, to take advantage of the situation, there are many privately-owned stores that have been established in and around Bangalore that only stock up on organic products. Econet in Thippasandra, Dharani at ISKON, Avani Organic on Bannerghatta Road and FabIndia are some players providing a marketing platform in order to encourage organic producers. “We mostly approach private NGOs and private agro companies for marketing our produce or selling it to JKS at a reasonable price,” said Narasimha Reddy.

Phalada, an agro-based company, provides marketing facilities for farmers by having direct tie ups with them. “There are not many big retailers who are ready to invest in this segment. They only look for short term gain and source it from farmers,” said Bharath B, marketing manager at Phalada Agro Research Foundations Pvt Ltd.
“There are plans for setting up a separate ‘organic mall’ in Bangalore to attract customers and educate them on organic produce,” said Ramakrishnappa.


(This article was published in TNIE city edition dated March 06, 2012)
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Posted by on March 6, 2012 in News and Views


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Organic produce bear no plum benefits to farmers

Bangalore: Bangaloreans were seen actively participating in the ‘Savayava Santhe’, the organic bazaar, a special awareness programme held on Feb 11, organised by Jaivika Krishi Society (JKS) run by the Government of Karnataka for development and promotion of organic farming.

Though there is sufficient demand and supply for organic produce, as observed, at the grass-roots level, farmers were not reaping the benefit of higher sale price.

Problems faced by farmers

Narasihma Reddy, a farmer from Gauribidanur , who is into organic farming for the last two decades said that the government has not made enough efforts to build a marketing platform for organic produce.

“Though we do not spend on pesticides unlike in conventional farming which increases the cost, we spend a lot on transporting the goods which almost doubles our input cost per unit, which reduces our profit margins,” Reddy said.

Reddy travels thrice in a week to Bangalore to deliver his produce to retailers and individual customers as he does not find enough market at his place for the produce.

Also, majority of the farmers who had come from different parts of Karnataka to participate in the organic bazaar said, the subsidies do not reach the farmers on time and fully.

Pricing mechanism

Lakshminarayan S, a software professional who is into sustainable agriculture and rural development projects feels that it is the middlemen in the supply chain who create artificial demand and try to sell the products at higher price.

“There needs to be a proper pricing mechanism and it needs to be controlled and regulated. Though the input cost should be lesser for organic produce, in the retail market, sometimes the prices are double and triple,” said Lakshminarayan.

Such practice discourages the farmers to switch to organic farming. Farmers fear that, in the retail market if the prices of organic food is much higher, then the customers might not buy the organic produce irrespective of its quality.

Subhash Palekar, a farmer from Udukunte village in Magadi taluk said, Rose apples were sold by him at Rs 60-70 per kilogram, however, in the retail outlets, the same was being sold for more than Rs 200.

Facilitators views

In contrast, the marketing agents tend to argue that since the demand for organic food is not that large, the cost of processing, packaging and transportation increases the product cost.

Interestingly, the Additional Director and President of Jaivika Krishi Society Dr K Ramakrishnappa said the government can only facilitate, but cannot market the products. There has to be a cooperation or intervention from private parties, he observed.

“Only 43 per cent of the market price reaches the farmer. There are no organised channels here or market linkages like the Horticultural Producers Co-operative Marketing and Processing Society,”  Ramakrishnappa said.

Adding that the dampening population of cattle and reducing soil fertility is adding to the woes of the farmers, Ramakrishnappa said, the government would help in setting up of pack-house if a cluster of farmers come together.

“There are not many big retailers who are ready to invest in this segment. They only look for short-term gain,” said Bharath B, marketing manager at Phalada Agro Research Foundations Pvt Ltd.

The way out

The Jaivika Krishi Society plans to organise ‘organic fairs’ at district headquarters once in three months to create more awareness among the prospective customers. It also plans to open an ‘organic mall’ in Bangalore to attract customers.

“The only way out for organic farmers is, when there are enough collection centres set up, like in milk cooperative societies and are fully supported and run by farmers with ‘Participatory Guarantee Systems’, locally focused quality assurance systems,” said Ramakrishnappa.


(A different version of this article was published in TNIE city edition dated Feb 13, 2012)
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in News and Views


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Bangaloreans getting a taste for organic food

Locally grown organic fruit on sale at a supermarket in Bangalore

Bangaloreans are plumping fororganic produce, and the retail sector has taken notice, with more than 10 retailers in Bangalore now offering organic food.

More farmers are now choosing to produce organic food products instead of the chemical-ridden conventional method of farming, which uses pesticides and herbicides to grow crops.

“With the increase in sales, we have seen a 200 percent increase in profit in the last one year since more customers are now opting for organic food,” said Amin Manjrekar, an organic food distributor to retail malls in Bangalore.

According to the website of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements: “‘Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.”

From 2 stores to 20 in 2 years

Namdhari Fresh, a retail store whose produce is grown with eco-friendly bio-agents and under integrated pest-management practices, was launched two years ago with two stores in Bangalore and now has more than 20.

“The demand and supply is erratic,” Amin said. “More farmers are reluctant to change to organic farming since they do not know the output. It is hard for us to convince them despite it being a cost-effective method.”

The SoftCopy checked four retail outlets in Bangalore and found that the prices of organic vegetables were 20-30 percent higher than nonorganic produce.

“We find the products to be fresh and healthy, unlike chemically grown vegetables and pulses,” said Bobby George, a customer at a retail outlet in Whitefield. “So we do not mind paying a marginally higher price for organic foods.”

Amin owns eight acres of land in Srirangapattana, Ooty and Cunnor, on which he grows pumpkins, broccoli, potatoes and cauliflowers. He also advises other farmers about organic farming.

Price still key factor to many customers

Big retail stores take pains to brand and market organic produce as “organic.” This additional branding and packing pushes the cost up further. For some customers, price matters most, and they stick to traditionally grown crops.

“Vegetable and pulse prices are already high in the regular market, and I wouldn’t like to pay much more for such products”, said a Rajalakshmi, a customer at a retail outlet.

“We do get good profits on our produce, but organic crops require a lot of water, which is in short supply, so we produce less,” said Mahesh G.R, a farmer at Srirangapatna in Mandya district.

“If we had no water problem, we would have cultivated the whole 15 acres of land with organic crops, but now we use only half an acre for such produce,” Mahesh added.

Farmers are required to maintain strict standards to have their produce certified as organic. Growing such crops also requires additional labor, which pushes the cost up.

“My farm is certified by the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bangalore, and I get Rs.5-10 more for the organic crops like pumpkin compared with the regular market price,” said Krishnappa, a farmer from Hesarghatta. “In the initial years, we incurred a loss, but as the years pass by, it’s turning out to be a profitable business.”

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Posted by on February 1, 2011 in News and Views


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