India’s Northeastern ‘organic hub’ drives market growth


India’s ‘organic hub’ – a cluster of fertile, proactively organic states in Northeast India – is helping drive strong market growth in the country and setting it on its way to securing 2% of the world organic food market.

That’s the view of Manoj Menon, one of the leading figures on the Indian organic scene.

Menon, executive director of India’s International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture (ICCOA), offered a series of insights into India’s progressive organic agriculture strategy at a special seminar at last week’s Biofach exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany.

Setting out some headline statistics, Menon said that India’s organic production is currently worth USD 3 billion, and is projected to grow 20-25% by 2020 to reach USD 4.5-6 billion. India’s domestic market for organic products is also growing and is worth around USD 750 million, with imports accounting for USD 150 million.

The country has set a target of securing 2% of world trade in organic food. Menon said that India’s ability to produce a diverse range of high-value cash crops – including fruit and vegetables, spices, coffee and tea – places it in a strong position to achieve this goal.

Organic has a strong grounding in rural areas in India, where there is a policy of adopting a sustainable ‘biovillages’ model for the holistic development of food supply chains. Training for young people in rural areas is also being expanded, as is the creation of ‘organic villages’ to serve as supply hubs for exports and expanding domestic markets.

Support for organic and agro-ecological development is now coming from the highest level, said Menon. An initiative which saw several Indian states in 2014 ban all use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides “was propagated by the chief minister,” he added.

2016 saw one Indian state, Sikkim, become officially 100% organic – further evidence of the country’s commitment to organic methods, said Menon. He said that India now has 600,000 certified organic farmers, and that a growing number of organic brands and businesses are becoming established internationally.