Switching to organics may increase monthly food bill by Rs 1500 per family, says Assocham and EY joint study

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New Delhi | Published: July 2, 2018 4:11:15 PM

Consumers may have to bear an additional expense of Rs 1,200-1,500 per month for a family if they want to switch to organic food products, which are sold at high prices, a latest study said, while suggesting that the government should take steps to bring down the cost.

organics, monthly food bill, food bill, food, organic foodThe processors of organic food products on the other hand, face significant resistance in the form of lack of adequate post-harvest facilities. (IE)

Consumers may have to bear an additional expense of Rs 1,200-1,500 per month for a family if they want to switch to organic food products, which are sold at high prices, a latest study said, while suggesting that the government should take steps to bring down the cost. According to a joint study by Assocham and Ernst & Young LLP, the purchase of organic food products is restricted to affluent class of consumers due to the high cost.

The organic food products are costlier because of low volumes and high expenses involved in processing and inventory holding, packaging, logistics and distribution besides training of farmers, the study observed. High certification charges and growing demand and lower supply — are key reasons for organic products to have higher price mark-ups than conventional products, it added.

According to the study, there exist several challenges for all stakeholders involved at every stage of the value chain despite organic farming being promoted by both Centre, states and even private sector. “…owing to gaps in the regulatory framework for organic products in India, producers of organic products are continually struggling to optimize the scale of their operations while maintaining profitability,” it said.

Lack of standardised organic agriculture inputs and subsidy on organic inputs, supply chain issues, global competitiveness, absence of proper branding and packaging are other challenges being faced by the sector. To bring down the cost of organic cultivation, the study suggested the government to discourage use of fertilisers and pesticides by incentivising and promoting use of bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides.

The processors of organic food products on the other hand, face significant resistance in the form of lack of adequate post-harvest facilities. “Thus several measures need to be taken in order to avoid contamination and cross-contamination of produce as infrastructural capabilities of the country often prove to be inadequate,” the study said.

In addition to the procedural challenges pertaining to certification and quality assurance, the increasing costs of inputs and the elongated conversion period from conventional to organic farming are a few of the key challenges faced by the producers, most of whom are small or marginal farmers. The study suggested the government to develop a public-private partnership model that aids the organic sector in reaching its full potential.

“A greater emphasis should be placed on the capacity building of stakeholders, easing access to finance, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of all assets and processes as well as research and development (R&D) to help keep abreast with global progress in the sector,” it added.

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