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Good scope for export of organic crops
Tuesday, 16 September, 2008, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Sabyasachi Samajdar, New Delhi
Agro Division of Export Import Bank (Exim Bank Agro) has identified the export potential of major organic crops such as organic tea, organic coffee, organic spices, organic fruits, organic vegetables and organic rice from India.

According to Exim Bank Agro sources, total world production of organic tea is estimated at around 9 million kg which represents a negligible (less than 1%) share of global tea production. India produced around 3.15 million kg of organic tea (around one-third of the world production). India is the pioneer and one of the leading producers of organic tea in the world.

Darjeeling has the largest number of estates under organic cultivation followed by Assam, Dooars and South India. In terms of number of organic gardens that are into organic production in India, they are more concentrated in Darjeeling. However, Oothu tea estate of Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation (BBTC) in South India is the single largest organic tea producer in the country (and also one of the largest organic gardens in the world), producing around 1 million kg of organic tea annually.

To support and strengthen the globally recognised organic movement, the producers of organic tea in India formed the Indian Bio Organic Tea Association (IBOTA) in 1996. FAO-funded model organic farms has also been planned to establish Assam and Darjeeling in North-East and Valparai in South India.

The total world production of organic coffee is estimated at 800,000 bags (60 kg each) which amounts to 48,000 tonnes of organic coffee, valued at approximately $150 million. This forms a very negligible (though rapidly growing) part of the world conventional coffee production (around 1% share quantity-wise and 3% share value-wise).

Organic coffee is mainly consumed by the developed countries, namely, USA, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and other European economies. Together, the 3 developed markets of the US, the EU and Japan account for over 90% of world organic coffee consumption. World organic coffee consumption is estimated at 700,000 bags, which represents only a marginal share (0.7%) when compared to world conventional coffee consumption.

India currently accounts for nearly 1% (around 370 tonnes valued at around $1 million) of the world organic coffee market. Organic coffee in India represents only 0.12% of total Indian coffee production and was nearly 370 tonnes on a certified, cultivated area of 382 hectares. The main geographical regions cultivating certified organic coffee are Karnataka (60%), Kerala (27%) and Tamil Nadu (13%).

The Coffee Board and independent, non-profit organisations like the Coffee Exporters Association, Speciality Coffee Association, have been actively promoting organic cultivation in India.

Organic spices make up a very negligible amount when compared to conventional spices. The main consumers of organic spices are Germany, the UK, France, Japan and the US. The current volume of organic spices imported and consumed was around 875 tonnes valued at $3 million. Pepper, ginger and turmeric are the main organic spices (over 60%) consumed followed by cardamom, chilli, cloves and nutmeg.

India currently accounts for 11% (in terms of quantity) and 3% (in terms of value) of the world organic spice market. Organic spices in India represent a very negligible part of our total spice production. India currently produces approximately 115 million tonnes of organic spices on a certified, cultivated area of 658.4 hectares.

The Spices Board, with assistance from development agencies like UNDP, provides most of the assistance and support to the cultivators. The Spices Board also extends Rs 75,000 or 50% of the cost for securing, organic certification, besides carrying out extensive training programmes in educating the farmers on techniques and skills on organic spice farming.

The organic fruits and vegetables market is growing at annual rates ranging between 20 and 30% during the last few years. The size of the Indian organic fruits and vegetables farming is valued at Rs 5-6 crore producing approximately 1500-2000 tonnes. India is in a very nascent stage when it comes to exports of organic fruits and vegetables. So far, only a select few corporates in India have exported organic fruits and vegetables. However, some more firms are in the process of setting up their infrastructure and may be ready to export in a year or two. India exported approximately Rs 6-10 crore worth of organic fruits and vegetables.

The Indian organic F&V market is a very small and niche segment due to various reasons. Some private corporates and governmental agencies such as Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) are actively trying to promote Indian organic foods in the domestic market through setting up of a distribution network or making use of their existing networks.

India's export of organic Basmati rice is mainly to the EU market. In India, the demand for organic rice is limited possibly on account of lack of awareness and lack of market distribution channel. Some corporates and NGOs are making an effort to penetrate the domestic markets mainly in the metros and markets close to the organic farms.

Joha Rice is another notable variety of rice, which has a strong aroma, grown mainly in Assam in the North-Eastern Region (NER). This too offers considerable opportunity for organic exports, since most of the cultivation is organic by default.
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