Organic bazaars – linking small producers with urban consumers

B N Vishwanath

 In India, the term organic farming has caught the imagination of all those farmers and consumers, who are seriously trying to do away with harmful chemicals and pesticides, to have a cleaner and healthier environment and food. Of late the number of farmers who have taken to organic farming is also increasing. However, marketing remains a problem for organic farmers, as was the case with conventional farming.

The concept of Organic Bazaars was conceived by Dr. Alexander Daniel, IIRD, even before the central government issued the NPOP and NSOP (National Standards). The concept of producer-consumer relationship through production-marketing network of organic products was operationalised during 2003-04. IIRD expanded its work to the four South Indian states through a network of partners.

It partnered with Janodaya, a Civil Society Organisation in Bangalore, Karnataka.

Janodaya chose to work in the villages surrounding Bangalore city. Around 10% of the land has access to irrigation where farmers have been growing 6-8 types of vegetables and fruits trees, using a lot of chemicals. Firstly, Janodaya organized a number of village meetings highlighting the benefits of organic farming. Interested farmers were organized into “Organic-farming groups”. The farmers were trained on composting, vermicomposting, azolla, panchagavaya application. Rainwater conservation was also included – making farm ponds and using the collected water for vegetable production. The simple rules of organic farming convinced the farmers for switching over to organic cultivation. Farmers followed a simple method called “belief certification” which involves the farmers to have interaction directly with consumers.

Setting up organic bazaars

However, lack of proper marketing facilities for organic produce was still a limitation. To address this issue, Janodaya started organic bazaars, outlets for organic produce within the city limits – one bazaar at one location on a particular day of the week. Initially, farmers used to collect the produce, transport it by a bus and deliver at different sale points. It was important that the produce reached in the early morning before 7 AM, when most of the women bought vegetables for the day. However, sometimes it was found difficult to maintain the time as farmers had to depend on public transport system for reaching the produce to the sale points. To overcome this, Janodaya volunteered to collect these produce at a common collection point within the city limits, and then distribute to the various sale points through its own transport system.

Farmers found this marketing system very convenient and remunerative too. Price of vegetables is fixed at 1-2 rupees per kilogram more than what is offered at Horticultural Produce Cooperative Marketing Society (HOPCOMS) of Bangalore. Of this only one rupee is deducted towards transport costs and the rest goes to the farmer. This way, farmers started receiving on par with the price offered by HOPCOMS. This was about 200% more than what they were receiving earlier.

At present, there is 17 such organic farming groups spread over 17 villages. Around 476 farmers, including 213 women farmers are involved in organic cultivation of vegetables and fruits. Crops like tomato, beans, carrot, cabbage, pulses, horse gram, guards, ground nuts, greens, chikku, coconut, banana lady finger, cucumber, sweet potato, green chilies, coriander, pudina, drum stick, limes etc., are being grown on 695 acres.

Spreading consumer awareness

Meanwhile to sustain this process, Janodaya started creating awareness among the urban consumers on the importance of consuming organic food. They participated in several exhibitions to promote the concept of organic bazaars.  About five Consumer awareness workshops were held to raise awareness on use of organic vegetables. These were mainly attended by housewives, members of women welfare associations and retired people. These people were further motivated to grow their own vegetables on their roof tops and backyards. Further, three grower-consumer meets were also organized to strengthen the bond between the farmers and consumers. With all these activities the number of organic consumers has increased to 600.

To expand the organic promotion and marketing services, besides producers ­consumers linkage; a network of interested and like minded NGO’s was taken up, since last year.

The concept of “Farmer to Consumer” not only benefited the farmer in leading a decent life but is also helping the consumer in getting natural and healthy food. In future, Janodaya wants to introduce the concept of Participatory Guarantee System for certification.

B N Vishwanath

Kadur Agro, No.503, IV Main, 6th Cross

Kengeri Satellite Town, Bangalore – 560 060



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