Demand for organic vegetables is increasing.— PHOTO: S. SIVA SARAVANAN
Mohan Kumar (39), a farmer at Gobichettipalayam, cultivates sugarcane and paddy on about six acres. This includes organic cultivation on nearly four acres, which he started almost a decade ago.
“For the first four years, I struggled to improve soil fertility because I had used chemical fertilizers in excess. Now, the soil has become fertile,” he says.
Though he has not gone in for organic certification, Mr. Kumar says he is struggling to market the produce. There are not many retail outlets to sell organic products.
Hence, farmers sell in the regular market and the price for the organic produce is the same as for other produce coming to the daily market, he explains.
Shantha Ramasamy, who runs an organic outlet in Coimbatore for the last 11 years, sources organic- cultivated vegetables, rice, and pulses from farmers in nearby areas and also from Madurai and Kodaikanal.
Normally, organic-certified or organically cultivated produce are priced 50 per cent higher.
Though the cost is high, demand for organic vegetables is only increasing as awareness among customers has improved, she says.
Marketing avenues have increased and there are more organic outlets. There are retail outlets selling organic products in almost every town.
Awareness has improved among farmers too and they want to try organic cultivation. So, the number of suppliers has also gone up, especially in the last three years, she says.
An official of the Department of Agriculture says that about 5,100 farmers (29,677 acres) have registered their farms for organic certification with the department.
This includes over 50 farmers from Coimbatore and Erode districts and about 25 from Tirupur district.