How to meet the soaring demand for organic food?

  • During this COVID-19 crisis,most of the population are health conscious regarding the consumption of organic foods.
  • Everyone while going to the food market uses the term “organic” very frequently. The echo of the word organic food sounds rapidly in every food market.Thinking about cost range between organic and conventional food, consumers might be in dilemma whether to purchase organic or conventionally produced food. Somewhere in our mind,from health perspective point of view,fear of health issue might be roaming around whether the food we are consuming is organic or not.

    What is organic? Foods featuring the organic seal are those which are grown and processed following a set of regulations, which include using only approved pest-control methods while synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones, and artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors are not allowed. The principal goal of organic production is to develop enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment. However,It isn’t an easy switch for a farmer to grow an organic foods

    .On a conventional farm,A farmer can hire sprayers and spray the whole farm within a single day but he can’t do the same in case of organic farm.It’s not a matter of simply turning off the chemical sprayers.Farmers must be intillegent enough to manage soil nutrients without synthetic fertilizer, rather use fertilizers of organic origin such as compost manure,green manure and providing emphasis on techniques such as crop rotation,rotational grazing,companion planting.A farmer should also have knowlegde about how to tackle weeds and insects without herbicides and insecticides so that fresh and healthy foods can be available.

    In recent years,with the increasing population the popularity of organic food has also been increasing rapidly. During this COVID-19 crisis,most of the population are health conscious regarding the consumption of organic foods.This Pandemic outbreak has made every a single person to think twice before consuming food items. Taking this into account,most of the farmers started organic farming as a part of business or may be for their own houshold consumption. Fruits and vegetables can be grown by adopting suitable agricultural practices and innovative ideas as kitchen gardening,small backyard farming,vertical gardening,rooftop farming or even by those with insufficient land on small pots,buckets,empty bags,etc.because of its multiple health benefits.These naturally grown fruits, vegetables, eggs, or meat helps to build our immune system and to be healthy. These benefits have increased the demand of such foods in the market. This is one of the major attributes behind the growth of the market. Moreover, improved distribution channel is predicted to be another major driving factors for the global organic food market during the forecast period.

     

    Why growing demand?

    • Organically produced foods is considered to be less risky than conventional foods.Organic products reduce public health risks to farm workers, their families, and consumers by minimizing their exposure to toxic and persistent chemicals.
    • More nutritious and are rich in nutrients, such as Vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, with less exposure to nitrates and pesticide residues in organically grown fruits, vegetables, and grains when compared to conventionally grown products.
    • However, not so rapidly but to some extent an increasing number of organic certification,indicating origin of products on labels,brands and wide range of organic product categories has been visualised in terms of efforts to provide higher food safety and food quality.
    • Moreover,trustworthy or mistrust channels of distribution can be considered as an important factor driving towards consumer’s demand where to buy and whether to buy products form that shops or not.
    • Local taste,nutritive value,food quality,freshness and nourishing products are considered as important factor for the growing demand of organic food products.
    • Concerns for the environment protection and for animal’s wellbeing as other reasons to buy organic food.

     

    In fact,the demand for organic food is growing so fast that consumer’s demand is outreaching some domestic supplies.So, in order to address the growing consumer’s demand  following strategies should be considered:

    • Effective cost: Production costs for organic foods are typically higher because of greater labor inputs,posts harvest loses. As the demand for organic food and food products are increasing, farming can be done to greater volume to reduce costs. Technological and cost effective innovations must be implemented which reduces costs of production, processing, distribution and marketing for organic produce.
    • Effective Marketing strategy: Marketing channels should be strong enough to reduce the gap between demand and supply.This can be done by identifying appropriate markets for organic foods.Those quality products can be promoted through advertisements and sales promotion. Consumers needs and changes should be taken into account in order to address business strategies.
    • Programs like organic fair and food expo should be conducted that helps the farmers transition into organic farming.
    • Organic certifications,labels must be cost effective and should be well known to every farmers.Organic certification of local underutilized mountain crops like beans, buckwheat,millet,barley should be done and value chain of thses crops should be strong and well developed.
    • Government level of support and positive feedback should be provided to those who are establishing new farm or transiting their farm from conventional into organic.

    So,with these effective,influencive and convincing measures,number and area of the organic farms may get increased,many of the farmers may start organic farming in larger volume,be able to increase production and of courseyes to fulfill the rapidly growing demand of organic food.

      Nrisha Parajuli

     Bsc.agriculture,Lamjung campus

     

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