Price and market are critical for success of any product or service. To build an ecosystem around these two basic tenets for promoting sustainable organic farming, Living Farms, an Odisha based NGO has helped in founding a consumer group and a weekly market for the sale of organic products at Muniguda block in Rayagada District of Odisha for its residents. Welthungerhilfe, a German organisation working on food and nutrition security supports the initiative.
To bridge the two challenges—the product availability and price, the consumer group provide direct monetary support to farmers who have been practising biodiverse agriculture. In the weekly market, the sellers are farmers from villages in the area. They bring their produce in baskets and sacks on bicycles or motorcycles. They offer from freshly harvested vegetables, pulses, herbs, and greens, to food items central to Adivasi agriculture and diets, such as nutritious millets, roots and tubers. The consumers are strictly advised to come with bags and containers to negate use of plastics.
The committee formed by the residents is known as ‘Nirapad Khadya’. It has 50 residents. A whatsapp group disseminates information regarding its activities. Says Harihar Yadav, one of the members of the group, “We have set up this market for ensuring chemical free and healthy food at home and helping the organic farmers get the better price for the their produce.”
The market was set up some eight months ago at the residential compound of one of the members. The acceptance of organic cultivated food has grown so much that the food products are now sold within two hours every Wednesday.
Chaitanya Pradhan, who works for Living Farm at Muniguda, says, “Initially people were sceptical about organic food products. We organised many meetings and made the residents aware about the evils of chemicals in the food. Within a month of setting up of the market, we started witnessing increased demand and readiness for these products.”
The market creates a close association between consumers and farmers who practise such traditions—thus consciously departing from the dominant phenomenon of chemical inputs-driven, mechanised agriculture, which leaves farmers deeply vulnerable to global market shocks. As a result, the middleman is eliminated—reducing the cost of production.
Chaitanya says that the consumers and their family members are encouraged to regularly visit farms where their food is produced to understand the concerns that farms and farmers have.
A Unique Pricing Mechanism
The significant aspect of this model of sustainable development is the unique price mechanism that the market has evolved and adopted. All rates for the produce are pre-decided through consultations between buyers and sellers with the aim of ensuring that the farmers recover their costs of production, and earn something over and above it.
Chaitanya says, “The committee which consists of two farmers and two consumers decide the rates of the produce for a month and no change in the price is entertained in between. Consequently, it builds trust on the market.”
Needless to say, the farmers in this area are a happy lot. Bharat Kashi, a farmer from Sangri, a nearby village, is delighted that consumers are discovering the food producer and hopes that the market will spread the message of organic farming more widely. And a win-win situation for all.
This story is a part of special feature series ‘Safe Food For All’ covering Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition by India CSR Network.