Karnataka : Organic Farming in the state to go the ‘Nandini’ way

14 regional federations of farmers preparing to brand and sell their produce in retail market

With an ever-growing market in urban centres, organic farming in Karnataka is on the verge of going big by following the ‘Nandini’ model (the brand name under which Karnataka Milk Federation sells its products) of co-operative marketing.

Data put up by the Agriculture Department shows that nearly 2.82 lakh tonnes of organic produce is being cultivated in over 94,000 hectares of land across the State. Much of this is being procured by the 14 regional federations and sold in the regional market “without brand recognition”. However, now, these federations are preparing to brand and sell their produce in the retail market, particularly, in Bengaluru.

One of the early birds is the Shivamogga District Regional Cooperative Organic Farmers Association Federation Ltd., which is expected to start “branding” its products — pepper, paddy, sugarcane, cashews, vegetables and soapnut powder — in Bengaluru by next week. “We are cutting off the middleman, and so both farmers and customers can get a good rate. The Shivamogga brand will expand beyond the local market,” said K. Ramappa, president of the federation.

Similarly, over 160 tonnes of millets, jowar, turmeric, and toor from Raichur, Koppal and Ballari are expected to be branded within the next month. “So far, we have been selling them at a premium in our local markets. But, we have not been able to sell them in big retail outlets. By tapping markets such as Bengaluru, the profits will increase and many more farmers will choose organic farming,” said Ashok Patil, president of the federation formed for the three districts.

With many of the 171 products with certifications overlapping among the 14 federations, the cooperatives — representing nearly 54,000 farmers — are in talks to fix a “common logo”, one that would help them in brand recognition.

 

Organic certification

Waiting in the line for their turn to market is the federation from Dakshina Kannada, Chikkamagalur and Udupi whose organic certification — primarily for lucrative pepper and cardamom — will turn three next year.

“Many traders will accept our products only after we get organic certification for three consecutive years. With access to the retail market in Bengaluru and other large metros, we can expect the price of our produce to rise further,” said Anil D.M., president of the federation.

Bengaluru market lucrative

It is Bengaluru that remains the most lucrative market for organic products, not just in the State but also in the country. Bengaluru has over 125 traders and 300 supermarkets dealing in organic products, the biggest in the country. “Bengaluru is undoubtedly the organic capital of India,” said Krishna Byre Gowda, Agriculture Minister.

However, market linkages with farmers were yet to be made and federations formed were yet to exploit the market. It was for this reason, he said, that Karnataka had become the first State to organise a national trade fair of organic products and millets in Bengaluru from April 28 to 30. Over 10,000 people are expected to visit the event to be held at Palace Grounds.

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