We are in the midst of an interesting paradox of the organic food industry. Although India represents the largest number of organic food producers in the world, that is approximately 835,000 certified organic producers, we contribute only 2.59 percent of the total organic cultivable area. The global winners of total organic cultivable land remain in the west with Australia, Argentina and United States of America leading the trail.
This huge disparity between the west and the east shows us that west has learned fast to evolve faster.
Few Lessons for us from the Evolution of Organic Food Industry in the West:
The west has adopted many behaviors and solutions that can help in transforming the organic food industry. I see that the following few lessons have accelerated their growth and can help Indian organic industry too.
- Community-driven organic production:
While farming sounds like a farmer’s job in the traditional context, organic farmers in the west have changed that approach. They have been able to achieve this by sharing the responsibility of growing organic food with the immediate community around them. With the advent of digital and social media, organic food farmers in the west have used it to educate and announce their efforts to grow organic food and invite people to participate in enabling organic farming.
- Millenial population and their food preferences:
The millennial mindset has been a boon for organic farmers. Their intent to stay healthy, proactive and educate themselves about the ill-effects of traditional farming has eased positioning of organic food across different distribution channels. The marketing effort towards enabling organic food sales has become relatively effortless in countries like Argentina, Australia, and USA.
- Localizing food:
Organic farmers have mastered the art of growing crops that thrive in local weather conditions. While this has not been very encouraging for farmers to grow hybrid and non-local crops, it has helped them specialize in growing local crops without pesticides and fertilizers. This has further built trust among consumers to rely on local food.
- Standard Symbols:
Organic food farmers have come together to float common associations that certify the standard of food produced with the use of common logos and symbols. This has expedited the adoption of organic food manufacturers with trust.
- Evolution of organic food industry:
Organic food started with an objective to replace food produced with fertilizers and other unnatural ways. The organic food industry has rapidly achieved this in a few western economies while other economies, though agrarian, have fumbled in building a positive and sustainable opportunity for organic food producers.
India can learn and adopt these lessons from the west, and work towards polishing their strength. With the most number of organic food producers, the likelihood and possibility for sustainability within the Indian organic food industry is a promise that can be realized.