Theres less reason to complain about healthier eating options as a new organic food store comes to town
As Morarka Organics prepares to open their 2,000-square-foot organic food store at Tardeo,one wonders what took them so long. Considering the organic produce non-profit organisation was founded in 1993,we should have felt their presence earlier. But as Mukesh Gupta,Executive Director of the Moraka group explains,We were involved with back end supplying,training farmers in organic-farming techniques and helping new entrants into the cultivation technique,gain certification, Gupta explains. Though there are many players today in the organic farming arena,Morarkas contribution to the field has been sizeable.
Founded by Kamal Morarka as a tiny operation in Nawalgarh,a small town at the edge of the Thar desert,the organisation aimed to work on providing better livelihood to the poor. They quickly realised that farmers in the area were suffering from shrinking margins on the produce they sold. We identified a focus area in vermiculture and vermi-compost-aided farming,substituting pesticides and fertilisers,and formed a network of 500 farmers to try out the method. Between 1995-99 they worked on spreading the know-how to more farmers in the state and outside,building a network of more than 50,000 farmers in the country. We realised by 2000 that we were helping farmers reduce cost of production by 30-40 per cent, Gupta reveals.
Morarka had been simultaneously working in the direction of organic farm certification which was prohibitively expensive for most Indian farmers. Re-thinking parameters of certification set by developed countries in Europe and the US,we helped develop our own method of certification which brought down costs from Rs 50,000 to a much more affordable Rs 500 per annum, Gupta claims triumphantly. Today,with a network of nearly 70,000 certified farmers spread across 15 states,the organisation offers 300 different products.
But only 180 of these will be out for sale at the store. At the moment we are mainly selling spices,cereals and pulses not permitted for export,and with about 70 per cent of Indian farmers producing just that,we aim to create a domestic market for their produce, he adds. Producing the entire range of Indian fruits,the store will put them out for sale according to season. So this June,reach out for a delectable bunch of Kesar mangoes at their shop window. As for the prices,efforts such as these ensure only a marginal difference.