Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Radha Mohan Singh stressed that ‘Organic farming’ should be promoted with the same spirit as ‘Green Revolution’ as India is the country with the most organic producers, said at an ASSOCHAM event.
He said that the country should progress to be an organic nation and chemical-free country. Prime Minister also urged farmers to cut use of heavily used fertilizers like urea by half to improve soil health, said, Mr Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister for Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare while addressing an ASSOCHAM Conference on Organic World: Advantage India held at New Delhi.
Organic farming is a way of farming, which excludes the use of chemical fertilisers, insecticides, etc. It is primarily based on the principles of use of natural organic inputs and biological plant protection measures. During the last six years, India has been increasingly supporting PGS (Participatory Guarantee System) for its national market, developing a unique example of large-scale government-facilitated PGS program, coordinated by its National Centre for Organic Farming, under the Ministry of Agriculture.
‘The government cannot promote organic farming alone. There are many NGOs and organisations that have a crucial role to play’. The data needs to be systematically collected through scientific methods, certification should be improved.
A joint study by ASSOCHAM-EY today reveals that the market size for Indian organic packaged food is expected to cross INR 871 million by 2021 from INR 533 million in 2016, growing at a rate of 17%. The substantial growth of this sector is attributed to an expanding urban population base, rising health concerns, growing consumer spending on food products and deterioration of food quality, the joint study noted.
Organic packaged food and beverages is an emerging niche market in India and its primary consumers are high-income urbanites. As demand for organic food in the metro cities increase, the companies in this sector are witnessing notable growth with the entry of several new players in the organic food market such as Conscious Foods, Sresta, Eco Farms, Organic India, Navdanya and Morarka Organic Foods, said the ASSOCHAM-EY joint report titled, ‘The Indian Organic Market: A new paradigm in agriculture’, which was released during the conference: ‘Organic World: Advantage India’.
India-based Sresta Natural BioproductsPvt. Ltd. has emerged as the market leader, with 37% value share of the packaged organic food market and 7.8% share of the packaged organic beverage market. It has increased its share in the organic food market in recent years, while smaller niche players have taken significant share away from it in the organic beverage market, adds the study.
“In addition to the growing domestic market, India is the second largest exporter of organic products in Asia after China. The increasing export market coupled with the Government’s support has made organic cultivation in India highly successful”, said Amit Vatsyayan, Partner, EY. Indian organic food exports were estimated at US$299 million during 2015-16 with total volume of 263,688 MT.
The major export destinations were the US, European Union, Canada and New Zealand. It is assumed that most of the remaining quantity is sold in local markets. Oilseeds comprised half of India’s overall organic food export, followed by processed food products at 25%, noted the paper.
According to ASSOCHAM-EY study, India currently holds the ninth position among 178 countries that actively practice organic agriculture. At present, the country is home to more than 835,000 organic producers, 699 processors, 669 exporters and 1.49 million ha area under organic cultivation. However, with only a meagre 0.4% of the total agricultural land area designated for organic cultivation, the industry presents extensive scope for expansion.
India has a remarkable potential to produce all varieties of organic products, owing to the existence of various agroclimatic zones within its borders. The total area under organic certification was 5.71 million ha in 2015-16. This included 26% cultivable area with 1.49 million ha and 74% (4.22 million ha) forest and wild area for collection of minor forest produce.
Among the states, Madhya Pradesh has the largest area under organic certification (4.62 lakh ha) followed by, Maharashtra (1.98 lakh ha) Rajasthan (1.55 lakh ha), Telangana (1.04 lakh ha), Odisha (0.96 lakh ha), Karnataka (0.94 lakh ha), Gujarat (0.77 lakh ha) and Sikkim (0.76 lakh ha). These states had a combined share of 90% of the area under organic certification in 2015-16, highlighted the study.
In terms of organic crops, the combined share of the top 10 categories of organic food crops is around 99%. The top four categories (with a share of around 85%) include sugar, oilseed, fiber and cereals and millets.
“According to our findings, metropolitan cities have witnessed a 95% increase in demand in the last five years,” said Mr. Vatsysyan. “Many organic food companies are adopting the online route to expand their consumer base. The brick and mortar organic stores are usually located in metro and mini metro cities. These companies are reaching out to the rest of the consumers through online channels,” he added.
Many organic food companies are coming up with new product categories and varieties to provide consumers with sufficient choices. Apart from fruits, vegetables, teas, pulses and spices, companies have also introduced ready-to-eat snacks, cookies, medicinal plants and herbs, and juices. Additionally, increased organic alternatives can be observed in established product categories.