Himachal Organic Producers Lament Marketing Avenues

Shimla: Encouraging organic farming for fetching better returns may be a thrust area for the agri-planners but lack of credit worth intermediary certification agency and separate marketing channels is proving to be a hurdle for farmers to change growing practices.

The department has trained 100 scientists and equal number of officers about organic farming and its application for use by farmers, said an official of the agriculture department.

This manpower has been entrusted with the task of imparting training to the farmers through training programs or by on farm demonstrations, he added.

“Concept of organic farming still has to catch up as there is hardly any credible agency which certifies the organic nature of the produce and coupled with it there is practically no marketing avenue for organic produce,” says Gain Singh, a vegetable producer from Theog area.

“However, there are some farmers who have made a foray into it but are finding getting the right price, difficult as organically produced crops have lower productivity, he added

Presently, the volume of organic produce is very small. We have a network of 42 agri-markets and sub-yards spread out throughout the state and as of now this serves the purpose of marketing organic produce as well as other produce, says the offical.

The list of registered organic farmers is 11,040 and growing by the day. Of them 4200 are registered in Shimla district but only 56 have been issued organic certificated.

By 2010, the agriculture department expected to approve about 1400 farmers who adhere to not using any chemical inputs or fertilizers in their growing practices and shall become eligible for organic produce certification.

Tej Pratap, Vice-chancellor of CSK Agriculture University, Palampur says, “Organic produce marketing infrastructure in not just weak in Himachal but throughout the country.” The university is involved in standardizing packaging and practices in organic farming.

“There is enough demand for organic food and farmers are willing to take to it but there is a weakness in the supply chain as economies of scale are proving frustrating both for producers and consumers,” said Pratap.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik has nurtured Hill Post for over a decade. A chequered path had him drift from managing family owned apple orchards, to turning a documentary filmmaker, to a journalist - with India’s leading television networks and newspapers, to boot strapping in founding Start-Ups. He lives in Shimla.

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