Big push planned for organic products

  • THE COMMERCE Ministry plans to enlist the support of Asean members to set up an Asean Organic Agriculture Federation aimed at boosting organic agricultural products in the regional market.

    The proposed federation will also strive to improve the quality and standards of Asean organic agricultural products and also be an instrument to bargain in the global market, Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said yesterday. Trade of Thai organic agricultural products were worth Bt2.7 billion last year, with Bt1 billion worth of exports and Bt1.7 billion from the domestic market. The Commerce Ministry expects organic agricultural products will achieve Bt3 billion this year, up 10 per cent from last year, with half of the total from exports, and the rest from the domestic market.  Thai Organic Trade Association president Peerachot Charanwong said that the total global market for organic agricultural products was worth about US$140 billion (Bt4.8 trillion) with $60 billion in the US, Canada, and Europe, and $80 billion in Asian markets such as India, China, Japan and Asean. 
    To drive sales of organic agricultural products in Asean, especially Thailand, the Commerce Ministry will organise the Organic and Natural Expo 2017 from July 27-30 at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center. The event will present Asean organic and agricultural products such as foods and beverages made from rice, vegetables, and fruit, and also will introduce other organic agricultural products for personal care, healthcare, and other areas. The ministry expects up to 45,000 visitors, generating trade value of Bt32 million at the event, with another Bt100 million of trade after the event, Apiradi said.  She added that more than 200 Thai organic producers would join this event, while some 100 Asean organic agricultural producers would also display their products at the event. The event will also bring visitors and importers of organic agricultural products from around the world to participate and place orders.  “We believe that this event will promote Thai organic agriculture and enable double-digit growth in exports annually,” Apiradi said.
  • Philippines exports organic rice to UAE, US

  • MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has exported organic rice to the Middle East and the US as part of efforts to provide additional source of income to  farmers from the Soccsksargen region. The Don Bosco Multipurpose Cooperative from North Cotabato recently shipped 13.5 metric tons (MT) of organic pigmented rice, 10 MT of which was bound for Dubai while the balance was sent to the US. This brings the cooperative’s total exports to more than 150 MT of organic black, brown and red rice to more than 10 countries. It is the first cooperative in the country to receive an international certification from Europe-based Certification of Environmental Standards and the US Department of Agriculture. The cooperative said this would allow overseas Filipino workers to provide additional financing to organic rice cultivators in the province. “The additional 10 MT organic rice shipment is the product of the Dubai OFW Reintegration Program,” said Romano Laurilla, general manager of the cooperative. “Through this program, we offer our OFWs a potential opportunity to invest here in the Philippines while they are earning abroad,” he added. The cooperative’s organic black, red and brown rice are grown in more than 500 hectares in several towns in North and South Cotabato, as well as in Sultan Kudarat. While the local demand for organic rice is still very small, studies showed that there is a huge potential for the variety in the global market particularly in Western countries which are more health conscious. The Department of Agriculture continues to assist the cooperative to sustain the exportation of organic pigmented rice.
  • Packaged organic food may need government stamp


  • Go organic to beat drought, says seed reviver

  • Nel Jayaraman  

    Nel Jayaraman says some varieties of indigenous paddy are drought and salt water resistant

    Organic farmer Nel Jayaraman has some advice for farmers struggling to grow high-yielding varieties of paddy during drought: Go organic. Having switched to growing indigenous paddy in an organic manner some 15 years ago, Mr. Jayaraman said farmers need spend only a little on input costs and can get good returns on their investment if they grew traditional varieties of paddy. Some of these rice varieties require less water compared to high-yielding varieties developed under the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). “India is home to around 100,000 varieties of indigenous paddy, but the Green Revolution wiped out everything. I have managed to revive around 150 indigenous varieties, and these crops grow very well with no fertilisers and chemicals,” he said. Though the yield may be low compared to varieties such as IR-8, Mr. Jayaraman said organic farmers could earn more with less, unlike farmers now who produced higher yield but got less returns for their produce from the government. “In a well-tilled field with good soil, I can grow 20 sacks (60 kg) of paddy in an acre of land. The market fetches around ₹30,000 in total at the rate of ₹1,500/sack. This is much higher compared to what farmers growing high-yielding varieties get from the government,” he said. Low profit High-yielding paddy fetches around 30-35 sacks/acre, which could be sold for ₹880-900 per sack, and the total expenses for cultivating per acre of paddy this way was around ₹30,000, farmers say. The margin of profit in SRI cultivation is low. There are native varieties that required only five bursts of rainfall to grow: during seed germination, during flowering, and so on, he said. More than 3,000 organic farmers converged in Thiruthuraipoondi on Saturday to participate in an open seed festival, supported by CREATE, Mr. Jayaraman’s organisation, and NABARD as a major partner. Among those attending are horticulturist Usha Kumari and scientist S. Sulochana. Usha Kumari, who represents Thanal, an organic farming organisation based in Thiruvananthapuram, said that a national-level ‘Save our Rice’ campaign that started in 2004 in Kumbalangi, Kerala, has begun to attract farmers from across the country who wish to switch to organic farming practices now. “After cotton, rice cultivation has the highest pesticide use ,” she said.
    “In Tamil Nadu, varieties such as kattuyanam are both drought-proof and salt water tolerant. In places like Nagapattinam district where salt water intrusion has made farming difficult, farmers could grow these varieties.” Health benefits The Kattuyanam is a very tall variety of paddy, growing up to 8 feet tall. A red rice variety, it fetches more than Rs. 150/kg in the open market, Ms. Kumari said. Besides good returns, the health benefits of organic rice is also a reason for its growing popularity. Scientist S. Sulochana, a researcher at the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, Thanjavur, said she had conducted studies that showed several indigenous paddy varieties had components that could cure cancer. “Mappillai Samba, Kuzhiadichan, Kattu Ponni, Garudan Samba, Seeraga Samba and Poonggar are some of the indigenous paddy we studied. These traditional varieties contain squalene, compounds that are present in olive oil and cod liver oil, which can reduce bad cholesterol,” she said, sharing some of her research findings.
  • Velez: All rise for rice! Read more

  • WE ARE a rice-loving people. Most of us have rice for breakfast, more rice for refueling at lunch and an optional rice in the evenings depending on your need to reduce carbs. Let's face it, we live and die with rice. That's why some love unli-rice. Some can even have rice topped with (target) toyo, asin or kamatis in hard times. So here comes Senator Cynthia Villar suggesting, with the good intention of helping us eat healthy, to cut down the consumption of well-milled white rice and unli-rice in fast foods. We are on a trend that going organic is healthier, and the well-polished rice we get from markets and fast-foods are just too polished and whitened with less nutrients and potentially harmful. But the problem is, the solution may not be good. As fellow Sunstar columnist Arnold Alamon points out, it's a suggestion without looking at the state of the Filipino table, or kitchen, or farms. Organic farming is good and it is trending among the middle class. But it is expensive, both for farmers producing and for consumers. Somehow the rice cartel and agriculture players are killing this. Multinationals and even the Department of Agriculture are promoting modified rice grains and commercial farming methods with herbicides and all that will harm organic rice and farmers and consumers. For all the boasting of the agriculture department, these things need to be checked. Our rice is being "commercia-riced" Besides that, the senator needs to look into food security. That means looking into why farmlands are being converted into plantations of export crops from bananas, pineapples, palm oil. If not, they are being converted into subdivisions, commercial complexes and highways. It doesn't help that the senator's family investments is into real estate and construction, and they have dislodged farmlands for this. A friend calls this unli-land conversion, which is really unhealthy. And there's more, in the hinterlands where farmers, lumads and indigenous peoples are being bombed no end, more so with the ongoing Martial Law and all-out war. Our fellow Filipinos in the countryside are being "milita-rice" "terro-rice" and "pulve-riced". But senators should look rather at the overall economic policies and agreements that make or un-break our agriculture sector. Did you know that the Philippines entered a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with China, which in essence would drastically reduce rice production from this point up to 2022? The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS)-funded study showed that this agreement would sink our rice production by 4% while rice imports will double from the current 2.2 million tons up to 4.4 million by 2022. The same study showed that the income of impoverished farmers will most likely dropped by 29% once this and the lifting of import restrictions will come into play. And our rice production has been dropping 1% yearly. Poor farmers might be eating “memo-rice” more. Perhaps, this is where the negative reaction comes from, when leaders rather decide what is on our table, but they just left the door open to greedy capitalism. And that is why, for the love of our food, our farmers and our land, let's stop these human "rice" violations! Let's rise for rice! Read more:
  • Palm Beach County-grown Florida’s Table rice in Publix, Whole Foods

  • Palm Beach County is known for growing sugar cane and winter vegetables, but now a lesser-known crop, rice that’s produced during the summer in the Everglades Agricultural Area, is getting its day in the sun.
    Florida’s Table, a new brand of rice launched by Domino Foods Inc. and owned by West Palm Beach-based Florida Crystals Corp., is now available in most Publix and Whole Foods stores in Florida. Domino is a sales and marketing firm owned by Florida Crystals and American Sugar Refining.
    The rice, available in four varieties, brown and white in both conventionally grown and organic, is all produced in rice paddies in western Palm Beach County.
    John Lebl, new products marketing manager for Domino Foods, said, “We are a very consumer-focused company, and we really try to give consumers what they are looking for. What we have seen is that today’s consumers are seeking locally grown products from people who they can trust.
    “Not only do they want to know where their food comes from, but how it is made and who makes it,” Lebl said.
    The 2-pound packages in stand-up resealable pouches retail from around $3.09 to $3.99 for the conventional rice and $4.39 to $5.49 for the organic, Lebl said.
    Publix is featuring the long grain rice, along with other foods produced in Florida, in a Florida Local display positioned at the “end cap” of aisles.
    “The great thing about it is when shoppers go in and see this set, they know these products were made in their home state by their neighbors,” he said.
    Florida Crystals, a major sugar producer, has been growing rice since the 1980s, and this year has planted 22,000 acres. Along with about 6,000 acres planted by other local growers, the acreage is the largest ever. The crop has been forecast at 120 million pounds, up from 90 million pounds in 2016, said Florida Crystals spokeswoman Marianne Martinez.
    But until Florida’s Table debuted in Whole Foods in November and in Publix this month, the local rice was not sold directly to consumers. Instead, Florida Crystals’ Sem-Chi rice was sold to companies such as Winn-Dixie and Goya, which marketed it under their private labels. Sem-Chi will continue as an industrial brand, but unlike the many Florida Crystals’ sugar products on store shelves, it has never been in front of consumers.
    In the last five years, Florida Crystals has invested $8 million in its Sem-Chi rice mill off County Road 880 east of Belle Glade. Two new silos have expanded the storage capacity and allowed the company to grow more rice, Martinez said.
    The mill also produces rice flour and organic rice flour. The rice flour supplies the gluten-free market.
    While rice is an important food grown all over the world, it also serves another purpose in the EAA, as a rotation crop with sugar cane and sweet corn. Growing rice restores the soil, removes unwanted pests and also provides a habitat for many species of native wildlife, especially wading birds.
    The rice plants, resembling a sea of verdant grass, grow in about two inches of water. It’s a low-input crop that doesn’t require fertilizer, and for the most part, weeds are controlled by flooding the rice farm.
    Rice planting begins in March and runs through June. Harvesting begins in July and ends in early November.
    “Florida Crystals utilizes Precision Agriculture in our rice farming. That includes using technology in our land preparation — surveying our fields and land leveling to ensure perfectly flat fields. We also use GPS-guided tractors and combines for all of our field prep, planting and harvesting,” Martinez said.
    During the 1950s, about 2,000 acres of rice was grown in the EAA. Although the rice produced satisfactory yields, the discovery of the the rice “hoja blanca” (white leaf) virus in other countries led to a federal quarantine of rice production in Florida, according to University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.
    Rice was re-introduced in the EAA in 1977. Production has more doubled since 2008.
    Florida ranks seventh in rice production nationally, following Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas. Florida produces less than 1 percent of the U.S. crop.
  • Global Organic Rice Market 2017 – Business Attractiveness and Forecast to 2022

  • The recent report of Market Research Store on the “Organic Rice Market Research” has the complete assessment of the latest trends of the global Organic Rice market. The report focuses on the manufacturing challenges that are being faced and provides the solutions and the strategies that have been implemented to overcome the problems. Deep researches and analysis were done during the preparation of the report.

    The information and the data that was collected was checked and validated by the industry experts. The clients will find this report very helpful in understanding the Organic Rice market in depth. The prime objective of this report is to help the user understand the Organic Rice market in terms of its definition, segmentation, market potential, influential trends, and the challenges that the market is facing.

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  • Organic journey to health

  • Hollywood stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Elizabeth Hurley have been strongly endorsing an ‘organic’ lifestyle. Back in Bollywood too, celebrities like Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif and R Madhavan are supporting local farms, buying natural products and changing their vibes. The growing fondness for organic food has gripped the cities in India and Vizag is gradually catching up to this ‘green’ lifestyle as well. In the past two to three years, the number of organic stores in the city has grown, with new age entrepreneurs starting exclusive stores in their quest to promote the ‘organic’ journey to health. Among the first organic store entrants in the city are the Ancient India Organics – an enterprise started by Aastha Lalit Bajaj about four years ago. Disturbed by the growing incidences of life threatening diseases like cancer within her family and friends circles and a chance to see the ‘Cancer Train’ or the Abohar-Jodhpur passenger train that it was originally called, Aastha was determined to embark on an entrepreneurial journey that would help people to stay away from the ill-effects of indiscriminate use of agro-chemicals, which is being attributed as a cause for the rising cancer cases. Thus, Ancient India Organics was founded. “It wasn’t easy in the initial months to market the idea of ‘organic’ food in Vizag’s price-sensitive consumer segment. Many did not understand the concept of ‘organic’,” says Aastha. That’s when she decided to create awareness among the people by holding talks and workshops. Today, Ancient India Organics not only caters to the local health conscious consumers seeking out organic substitutes of pulses, millets, spices and other food products, the firm has evolved into a thriving export-import business, riding on a global shift in consciousness towards leading an organic lifestyle. “The only answer to stop the vicious cycle of use of pesticides and chemicals in agricultural practices is by supporting local farms in adopting organic farming,” says Aastha. Apart from keeping private organic product brands like Nature Land and Pure & Sure and being the state-wide distributors of EcoLife organic brand, she has also launched her own brand of organic tea and coffee under the Eastern Brew label. “We collaborate with social organisations practicising certified organic farming in parts of Darjeeling and help them to market their produce under our label,” says Aastha. Her venture has spread out to the Middle-East, Europe, US and Africa markets in the international segment, while back home she is one of the main suppliers of certified organic products to most of the hypermarkets and stores in the city. “The demand for organic products is particularly growing among senior citizens and young parents who are more aware about the benefits,” she says. The store of Ancient India Organics is located near the Abhaya Anjaneya Swamy Temple in Seethamadhara.
    While organic food may not be mainstream yet in the city, nevertheless, it is more accessible than before. Most city malls and hypermarkets in the city have a dedicated section of organic products. This apart, more standalone stores stacking organic products have sprung up. In a span of two years, Bandaru Naresh expanded his organic food product enterprise of Sumaja Eco Wellness from one store in Gopalpatnam to three branches. “When we started off, we hardly had one or two brands of organic products. Now, we have 20 private brands and also sell varieties of jaggery, rice and a few spices under own brand in association with a farmer’s cooperative society in West Godavari,” says Naresh. After opening its Seethammadhara branch in 2015, Naresh launched the third store in Pandurangapuram last year. “Interestingly, we have observed that contrary to popular belief that organic food is more of a high-society lifestyle choice, we have customers from different walks of life who come to us by making an informed choice on the need to lead an organic lifestyle. We get elderly people who are diabetic and young mothers who seek high nutritional value for their children,” he says. Sumaja Eco Wellness works closely with farmers’ cooperative societies in AP like Sahaja Aharam Producer Company and Titos Organic, and other cooperative societies based in Telangana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu and helps them market the organic produce in Visakhapatnam. Apart from rice and pulses, Naresh says that millets have made a remarkable comeback with many in the city preferring organic versions of the varieties of these ethnic food grains and ready-to-cook varieties of mixed millets. Riding this feisty wave of support for organic products, the latest entrant in this space is Swaraj Organics in Peda Waltair. Started by K.V. Suresh Kumar, Swaraj also stocks fresh organic vegetables apart from pulses, millets and spices. “The vegetables are all organically produced in my 30-acres farm,” says Kumar. After practicising organic farming for over a year, Kumar realised the difficulties in marketing the produce and bringing it to the customers. It was then that he decided to start his own organic store venture in the city. “The city is still slow in accepting organic products. But we are making progress towards a healthier lifestyle and the demand for organic products is definitely on the rise,” says Kumar. With millets being a favourite among the locals, his store offers a complete package solution like ragi grains, ragi powder and sprouted ragi. “Millets in sprouted form is the best source of nutrition. Human body can absorp 80 per cent of the nutrients if consumed in sprouted form. We want to give that option for the consumers,” says Kumar. His store is currently getting ready to stack a wider range of organic vegetables and food products spread across 2,700 sft area.
  • Going against the grain when it comes to white rice


    Going against the grain when it comes to white rice
    Reuters file photo
    SINGAPORE — White rice is a common staple on most dinner tables here. However, the starchy grain has gained a bad reputation ever since local health authorities singled it out last year as one of the top concerns in the nation’s battle against diabetes. Diabetes risk rises 11 per cent for every daily serving of white rice, according to a meta-analysis by the Harvard School of Public Health published in the British Medical Journal. Replacing it with wholegrain options (like brown or red rice) may cut diabetes risk, and Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommends consuming wholegrains instead of refined grains wherever possible. 
    But nutrition experts say when it comes to diabetes and weight management, the answer is not always so clear-cut.  WHITE IS BAD, BROWN IS GOOD? While Asians are genetically more predisposed to Type 2 diabetes than Caucasians, principal dietitian at Raffles Diabetes and Endocrine Centre Bibi Chia pointed out that in the past, obesity and diabetes were not public health issues although previous generations probably consumed more white rice than most people do today.  “We can’t just blame rice. It’s also about what you’re eating the entire day — how much fat, excessive sugar, processed food, deep-fried food — as well as the lower amount of physical activity people are doing these days. Rising obesity rates mean that more people are also developing insulin resistance,” said Ms Chia at the media launch of Kinmemai Better White and Better Brown rice earlier this month.  The Japanese-crafted healthier rice products, processed using a gentler rice-buffing technique that retains more fibre and nutrients, will be available in Singapore next month, offering more options for healthier rice.   The main reason white rice gets a bad rap is due to its high glycaemic index (GI), which is a measure of how rapidly a starchy food affects blood sugar after it is digested.  A value of 55 or less is considered a low GI rating, while 70 or above is considered high, said Dr Iain Brownlee, director of operations for food and human nutrition at Newcastle University (Singapore).  High GI foods cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, which over time, could raise Type 2 diabetes risk. Some preliminary research has also linked high GI diets to other conditions like colorectal cancer and age-related macular degeneration.  For diabetics, prolonged high blood sugar levels can also lead to life-threatening complications as their bodies are unable to effectively manage them, said Dr Brownlee.  Nutrition-wise, white rice also pales in comparison to wholegrain varieties as its hull, bran and germ, the outer part which contains most of the fibre, B-vitamins and other nutrients, are removed.  The polishing process leaves only the endosperm, which contains mainly starch and some protein.  On the other hand, wholegrain rice like brown rice, which retains its germ and bran, has a lower GI and almost five times the fibre of white rice. This keeps a person fuller and blood sugar levels stable over a longer period, making it a recommended choice from the perspective of weight and diabetes management, said Ms Riddhi Naidu, a clinical dietitian at HealthQuay Medical.  PROCESSING, COOKING METHODS, AND PORTION SIZES MATTER TOO However, Dr Brownlee said it is not always possible to accurately predict the GI of different types of rice as many factors can affect its digestibility.  While wholegrain varieties like brown rice will provide a wider range of nutrients, some may not necessarily be lower in GI than white rice.  For one, the processing methods and conditions in which the rice is grown can impact the GI of rice varieties, he added. Other factors such as cooking methods and how the rice is eaten can also affect its GI value, said Ms Naidu.  For example, a bowl of rice porridge has a higher GI than plain rice as the longer cooking time breaks down the cellular structure, making it easier to digest and raises blood sugar levels.  Ms Chia added while replacing a portion of white rice with brown rice lowers its GI, the common habit of upsizing one’s rice portion can raise the GI even when consuming wholegrains. The HPB recommends that wholegrains like brown rice form at most a quarter of a plate at every meal.  “A lot of hawker fare don’t come with adequate vegetables. When you have just two slices of cucumber with your chicken rice, you’ll have to eat more chicken and rice to feel full,” said Ms Chia.  “Another common mistake is to eat rice with a lot of gravy, which increases the carbohydrate, calorie, salt and fat content of the meal.”  LOW GI MAY NOT ALWAYS BE HEALTHIER The experts stressed that it is also important to note that the food’s GI value does not indicate its nutritional value.  Take rice fried in a copious amount of oil. When combined with carbohydrates, fat tends to lower the GI of the food as it slows down digestion, but it does not mean the fried item is a healthier option, said Ms Naidu.   Besides eating right, practising portion control is crucial in managing blood glucose levels and weight.  “Having low GI rice does not mean you can have more of it. If you dislike brown rice, you may choose to have parboiled or basmati rice, which are lower in GI than conventional white rice varieties,” said Ms Naidu. Finally, it is also important to get moving for at least 15 minutes after every meal to manage blood sugar levels, added Ms Chia. KNOW YOUR RICE The demand for healthier rice options has risen in recent years. NTUC FairPrice’s director of grocery products Victor Chai said this year, the chain has seen a 25 per cent growth in demand for healthier rice products such as unpolished brown rice, red rice, mixed rice and organic rice compared to the same period last year.  It currently offers about 30 different rice products considered to be healthier.  Ms Riddhi Naidu, clinical dietitian at HealthQuay Medical, gives the low-down on the nutritional content and glycaemic index (GI) value of the different rice varieties.  White rice The hull, bran and germ are removed, hence, it is lower in nutritional value and is easier to digest. But not all white rice has a high GI. For instance, long-grain varieties like basmati have a lower GI (under 70) than short grain options (above 70).  Brown rice  The germ and bran, an outer shell that is full of fibre, B-vitamins and other minerals, are retained. It contains almost five times the fibre of white rice and takes longer to digest, keeping one’s blood sugar levels stable over a longer period.  Red rice  Contains a variety of anthocyanins that gives its bran a red or maroon colour. It has a similar amount of fibre as brown rice, but six times the amount of zinc.  Parboiled rice Also called converted rice, this type of rice has a lower GI (40) and a firmer and less sticky texture than regular white rice. It is also more nutritious because its processing method — pressure-steamed and dried — forces the nutrients and vitamins (fibre, B-vitamins and minerals) from the husk into the starch granule.  Black rice Its black-coloured bran layer comes from a unique anthocyanin combination, which causes the rice to turn a deep purple colour when cooked. It contains about three times the fibre of brown rice. Wild rice Not a true rice, but comes from a wild North American grain-producing grass. Compared to brown rice, it contains a similar amount of fibre but twice the amount of zinc and eight times the amount of Vitamin E. It requires the most water, soaking and cooking time among other rice types.   GI of rice varieties: High (70-100): white rice, sticky (glutinous), puffed rice  Medium (56-69): brown rice, basmati rice  Low: parboiled (converted) rice (around 40)
  • U.S. organic food sales jump more than 8%

  • Organic Growth Chart
    WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.  — Organic food sales in the United States increased by 8.4% in 2016 to reach $43 billion, marking the first time sales surpassed $40 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association’s industry survey released May 24. The 8.4% jump compared to an increase of 0.6% in overall U.S. food market sales.

    Overall U.S. organic sales were about $47 billion in 2016. Sales of organic non-food products increased 8.8% to $3.9 billion. Organic food accounted for 5.3% of total U.S. food sales.

    Organic fruits and vegetables, the largest organic food category, accounted for nearly 40% of all organic food sales, rising 8.4% to $15.6 billion in 2016. Organic fruit and vegetables made up almost 15% of the produce that Americans ate in 2016.

    Sales of organic meat and poultry rose more than 17% in 2016 to $991 million. Organic dips and organic spices, although still smaller categories, recorded double-digit jumps in sales. Organic dip sales increased 41% to $57 million, and organic spice sales increased 35% to $193 million.

    More than 60% of all organic businesses with more than five employees reported an increase in full-time employment in 2016.

    Laura Batcha
    Laura Batcha, executive director of the Organic Trade Association.

    “Organic farmers are not just staying in business, they’re often expanding,” said Laura Batcha, executive director of the Organic Trade Association. “Organic handling, manufacturing and processing facilities are being opened, enlarged and retooled. Organic farms, suppliers and handlers are creating jobs across the country, and the organic sector is growing and creating the kinds of healthy, environmentally friendly products that consumers are increasingly demanding.”

    She added the organic sector needs help in meeting demand.

    “We need more organic farmers in this country to meet our growing organic demand, and the organic sector needs to have the necessary tools to grow and compete on a level playing field,” Batcha said. “That means federal, state and local programs that help support organic research and provide the organic farmer with a fully equipped tool kit to be successful.”

    Nutrition Business Journal conducted the survey on behalf of the Organic Trade Association. More than 200 companies responded to the survey, which took place from Feb. 2 to March 31. 
  • Awareness about organic produce must increase

  • As the sourcing of organic seeds is difficult in Telangana, they started with the propagation of their own seeds.
    Chekoti Bio Organic puts its products on display at its office. (Photo: DC)
     Chekoti Bio Organic puts its products on display at its office. (Photo: DC)
    HYDERABAD: Veera Reddy, a mechanical engineer by profession, started organic farming in 2007. After working abroad for a few years, Reddy returned to Hyderabad and found everything here adulterated. He decided to produce his own organic eatables in a 10-acre farm. According to him, only educated people are aware of the importance of organic products and going organic, and there is a need for more awareness among the people in this respect.
    Chekoti Bio Organic products were founded by Veera Reddy in 2015 along with his daughter Keerthi Chekoti and son-in-law Rajesh Kumar Chekoti in their individual farms in Pakala village, Warangal district and in Kothapalli Village, Jangaon District in Telangana. As the sourcing of organic seeds is difficult in Telangana, they started with the propagation of their own seeds. Today they also produce and sell a wide range of certified organic vegetables and herbs for sale in Telangana. “Initially, in 2007, we started with the plantation of wonder fruit NONI — Botanical name Mori-nda Citrifolial in Pakala village. M. Citrifolia fruit powder contains carbohydrates and dietary fibre in moderate levels. These macronutrients evidently reside in the fruit pulp, as M. Citrifolia juice has sparse nutrient content,’’ Veera Reddy said, He added, “In an area with low rainfalls, strong winds and high temperatures in summer, the production of vegetables poses many challenges. I guess it is true to say that we have pioneered organic farming here on the West Coast. We have achieved and maintained organic certification –INDOCERT, USDA and INDIA ORGANIC since in 2008.” “Our premises and systems were upgraded to meet the latest standards in hygiene as well as all relevant occupational and environmental regulations,” he explained. “Today, we produce a select range of fresh vegetables, pack them with as little plastic as possible, and distribute our produce through our own brand shops and through other organic shops’’, he added. ‘Getting farmers shift to organic farming is tough’ Organic farming — once upon a time the only way farmers farmed — is a better alternative than chemical farming that is widely practised in India, but 26-year-old biotech engineer Likitha Bhanu is doing her bit to reverse the trend. After graduating from the Vellore Institute of Technology in Biotechnol-ogy, Likitha took a year’s break and then decided to take up organic farming. She and her mother Padm-aja established Terra Gre-ens Organic Food Comp-any based out of Hyder-abad in 2013. “We had two aims: to spread awareness about organic food and to help farmers across India adopt this method of farming,” says Lakitha.

    26-year-old Likitha Bhanu along with her mother Padmaja Bhanu strikes a pose with staff at the Terra Greens Organic Food Company established by the duo in Hyderabad in 2013. (Photo: DC)26-year-old Likitha Bhanu along with her mother Padmaja Bhanu strikes a pose with staff at the Terra Greens Organic Food Company established by the duo in Hyderabad in 2013. (Photo: DC)

    The company supplied mangoes to the upmarket Nature’s Basket chain of stores, under the brand name Terra Greens Organic. Consumers took to the organic mangoes instantly and demand outstripped supply. Terra Greens produces the staples of an Indian kitchen such as pulses, all types of fruits, spices, honey, and tea. Likitha says quality of the product is important so they procure produce from pla-ces where it was originally grown. Terra Green’s basmati rice comes from Uttarakhand, its other rice from Kannur, pulses from Maharashtra and wheat from Rajasthan. “We started our first farming project in Rajasthan with a loan and our savings, followed by Mahara-shtra and Andhra Prad-esh because the demand and understanding of organic farming was better in these states at that time. We have our farms in 16 states and over 650 stores for which 4,000 farmers are working across India,'' says the eco-conscious entrepreneur. She says the main challenge is to convince the farmers, who have been used to chemical agriculture, about the importance of organic farming. Organic products are costly because the demand is so low, but once the dem-and increases, the market will improve, she says. “The government should increase awareness among farmers to go in for organic farming and also promote the consumption of organic farming. Partnership should be increased between farmers and the companies to encourage farmers to get into organic farming.”
  • India to treble export of organic products by 2020

  • Organic vegetables
    India’s of (both food and non-food) are likely to treble by 2020 following relaxations in quota restrictions, thereby, allowing farmers to compete in global
    According to the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda), Indian farmers produced around 1.35 million tonnes of certified in the financial year 2015-16. This includes food products such as sugarcane, oilseeds, cereals, millets, cotton, pulses, medicinal plants, tea, fruits, spices, vegetables and coffee, among others. However, remained low primarily due to quantitative restrictions. Food exports, for example, stood at 2,63,687 tonnes, which was worth $298 million.
    The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), had through a notification in April,  liberalised the quantitative restrictions on the export of from -- a move that experts believe would boost India’s production and significantly in future.
    “Despite having an immense potential, Indian organic farmers failed to explore opportunities in the global due to the quantitative ceiling. Perhaps, the government had imposed such restrictions to ensure food security for domestic consumers. But, quantitative restrictions were only discouraging farmers to intensify their work on Hence, such restrictions were no longer needed. We, therefore, urged the government to liberalise the restrictions,” said Manoj Menon, Executive Director of Indian Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture (ICCOA), a Bengaluru–based networking organisation of organic value chains.
    Thus, the overall market of Rs 4,000 crore is estimated to grow and range between Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000 crore by 2020 with a concomitant increase in exports, Menon added.
    While of organic wheat, non-basmati rice, edible oil and sugar have been exempted from all annual quantitative ceilings, the ceiling for pulses and lentils has been increased from 10,000 tonnes to 50,000 tonnes.
    Indian farmers exported largely to the (EU), United States of America (US), Canada, Switzerland, the Middle East, among others. Oilseeds contributed half of India’s overall organic exports, followed by processed food products that account for 25 per cent of the total export.
    “The growth of organic farming was limited due to the lack of incentives offered by the government to encourage farmers. In fact, farmers tend to see low productivity and, thereby, low income for at least three years in case they switch to organic from conventional or hybrid farming. Since organic farming does not use chemicals and fertilisers, the only way farmers can be compensated is through premiums for their produce. In fact, Indian like tea, vegetables and pulses fetch much higher premiums from overseas than conventional and hybrid products. The liberalisation in the quantitative ceilings, however, would encourage farmers to fetch premiums in the international markets,” said a senior industry official.
    With around 50 per cent of the market share, the continues to be the biggest market for organic produce worth $80 billion followed by the EU and others.
    At present, the total area available for organic cultivation in stands at 5.71 million hectares. Out of this, 26 per cent or 1.49 million hectares of land comes under cultivable area, while the remaining 4.11 million hectares fall under forest cover that is used to collect minor forest produce.
  • Pesticides, heavy metals found in ‘organic’ rice

    (Representative image)(Representative image)
    AHMEDABAD: Recent comparative product testing by city-based Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC), found traces of pesticides and heavy metals in six supposedly-organic brands of rice.Three brands of rice sold as organic had traces of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, and these were above the safe limit in two brands. All seven organic rice brands tested by CERC, were found to have heavy metals, copper and lead, but these were within the safe limits. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) suggests that short-term exposure to chlorpyrifos can cause changes in behavior or sleeping patterns, mood changes, and effects on the nerves and/or muscles in the limbs. Contrary to the findings, the packaging of most products carried claims such as 'pesticide-free', 'free from chemicals and toxic substances', among others, which are misleading, the study concluded.
    "The very rationale for buying an organic product is to buy a product free of pesticides and chemicals. Moreover, consumers pay a premium for organic products and despite this, they don't get the proper quality. This is because there are no standards to govern the production and sale of organic food products," said Pritee Shah, chief general manager, CERC.In the past, CERC urged the Bureau of Indian Standards and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to formulate standards for organic products through a representation.
    CERC further emphasized that the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) certification be made mandatory for organic products and not just processes."Currently, NPOP certifies organic process standards; but it should also certify the final product. While we do encourage promoting consumption of organic products, manufacturers and regulatory authorities must ensure that consumers get quality products. India also needs to follow labelling norms according to global best-practices in the interest of consumers," added Shah.