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Dial 'O' for organic

Billionaire Lakshmi Mittal is going eco-friendly. Except he isn’t just growing vegetables in this backyard for that organic feel. Instead he’s spending a cool 5.25 million pounds (Rs 38 crore) for a 340-acre estate that will be completely eco-friendly and self-sufficient. From solar panels to reed beds, Mr Mittal isn’t sparing anything that will help him eat and live healthy.

india Updated: Mar 05, 2011 23:33 IST
Ruchira Hoon

Billionaire Lakshmi Mittal is going eco-friendly. Except he isn’t just growing vegetables in this backyard for that organic feel. Instead he’s spending a cool 5.25 million pounds (Rs 38 crore) for a 340-acre estate that will be completely eco-friendly and self-sufficient. From solar panels to reed beds, Mr Mittal isn’t sparing anything that will help him eat and live healthy.

While you don’t have to spend the earth to go green, you can however go completely organic from the moment you wake up, to the time you sleep. Organic and natural superstore Altitude Store’s Ayesha Grewal believes that going organic doesn’t just apply to the food you eat, it also applies to the clothes you wear, the curtain and bed linen in your house and even the perfume you spray on yourself. But what matters most is to know the difference between natural and organic, “Natural is not necessarily organic. While agro-chemicals will be used minimally in natural products, unless it is certified organic, it is not organic” she says.

Certified organic
Firstly, an external agent such as Ecocert or Icert are hired by APEDA (Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) who will test the authenticity of the product. A two-three year testing period later, where the soil, water and the product is repeatedly tested for chemical residue, the agency will quiz the farmers till they are completely satisfied. And it’s only after this it is certified as organic.
Is that why organic products are so expensive? That, and the fact that the government gives higher subsidies for fertilizers and pesticides, thereby encouraging the farmers to use only these. “Which is one of the primary reasons that the end consumers pays higher for organic products. Plus there are only few farmers which are certified by APEDA.” says organic farmer Anish Kumar, who supplies to brands like Conscious Foods and Himalaya.

The global movement
Granted that the organic movement took off in the west a decade ago, today it has become not only fashionable but also a way of life for many. For example, in 2007 the Organic Farming Research Foundation recorded as many as 13,000 certified organic producers in the U.S, a number that is growing by nearly 16% every year. Farmers and research across the world believe that organic farming will lead to a sustainable livelihood which in turn will turn not only prevent soil erosion and protect the water quality, but it will also keep chemicals off your body and support a true and better economy.

In India too, farmers are understanding the need to turn jaivik or organic. Kumar adds, “If people can show us farmers there is a demand for organic, the supply will only get better.”
But that’s not the only way it works. According to Ecocert, a certification agency, most companies (and farmers) want their products certified so that they can export. “The biggest irony in India is that most companies are only interested in tapping the markets abroad, while the domestic market is truly booming and wants this change,” says certification officer Dr Pravin Khare. “From our end, we try and promote the products that are freshly certified through our websites and on Youtube, but becomes very hard to reach out to everybody.”