Opportunity for organic farmers in India to connect directly with buyers

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01 November 2021, New Delhi: The Government of India’s Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has come up with a unique online initiative – Jaivik Kheti – to promote and facilitate organic farming and its purchase. By simply registering on www.jaivikkheti.in organic farmers can directly get in touch with buyers to sell their produce, and the latter can avail of the best prices which are lower compared to the market rates.

This is a much-needed push, considering organic farming is still in a nascent stage in the country, despite India introducing the Organic Farming Police in 2005. Fifteen years down the line, organic farming constitutes just 2% (2.78 million hectare of farmland) of net sown area in the country under organic cultivation (as of March 2020, according to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare) . Ironically, though India has a very small organic area under cultivation, it is ranked first in terms of the number of organic farmers, with over 1.9 million farmers as of March 2020, which is 1.3% of 146 million agricultural landholders.

Any farming that involves growing in an organic manner, without using chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other substances that could contaminate the soil and food is defined as organic farming/cultivation. It started as a movement to save the planet and reverse the damage to environment caused by unjustifiable use of chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilisers.

Organic farming repairs, maintains, and improves the ecological balance. But there are multiple challenges that organic farmers and cultivators face, in terms of rising input costs and limited market.

Farmers are facing troubles of low productivity during the transition from conventional chemical farming to organic farming. Pest attack on organic crops is another reason cited by the farmers for low productivity, and demanded education and training to deal with it.

THE HOPE 

Jaivik Kheti, a portal launched by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Department of Agriculture (DAC) along with MSTC, is an e-commerce as well as a knowledge platform. The knowledge repository section of the portal includes case studies, videos, and best farming practices, success stories and other material related to organic farming to facilitate and promote organic farming.

The e-commerce section provides the whole bouquet of organic products ranging from grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables. Buyers can now avail organic products at their doorstep through the portal at much lower prices as compared to market.

Such a push for organic farming was long overdue, considering Madhya Pradesh alone accounts for 27% of total area under organic farming, while along with Rajasthan and Maharashtra, the three states have around 50% of land under organic cultivation. But Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra have only around 4.9%, 2.0%, and 1.6% respectively of their net sown area under organic farming. Sikkim is the only Indian state to have fully become organic, while a majority of states have only a small part of their net sown area under organic farming said by Mr Pradeep Multai, President, PHD Chamber

Because of its reach, Jaivik Kheti will be able to link various stakeholders, such as regional councils, local groups, individual farmers, buyers, government agencies and input suppliers for the all-inclusive development and promotion of organic farming. Through this portal, the Centre provides various price discovery mechanisms to help farmers get the best prices for their products via forward auction, price-quantity bidding, book building and reverse auction mechanisms.

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