B. Shivakumar, an entrepreneur-industrialist, started farming about five years ago on 40 acres at Sathyamangalam. In 2015, seeing the impact of chemicals on soil, he decided to go organic and it took him one-and-a-half years to clear the land, take up green mulching, and start organic cultivation. Today, his Madras Iyer Thottam (MIT) has expanded to 75 acres and he has another 13 acres in the Nilgiris, growing organic and traditional varieties of fruits, vegetables, paddy and pulses.
“I want to provide almost all the requirements of a kitchen, grown organically,” he says.
“The market for organic products is growing and we are not able to meet the demand. Like any other business there is a gestation period for this too. But, it is economically viable to raise organic crops,” he says.
Several such agricultural lands are turning organic in the State every year. These include small farming clusters and large farms. According to the Tamil Nadu Organic Certification Department (TNOCD), which is part of the State Agriculture Department, so far this financial year, 700 acres have registered for organic certification.
The Department has so far certified 30,207 acres. There are several private agencies too that provide organic certification. The farms grow turmeric, vegetables, fruits, spices, coconut, etc. Moringa, coconut, and turmeric are three major crops where farmers are opting for organic cultivation.
Though there is a 5 % to 10 % drop every year, several farmers are willing to go for organic cultivation, says officials at the TNOCD. This year, it is looking at certifying about 1,000 acres. The first and second years are for conversion and the department certifies the area as organic only in the third year. The department also issues transaction certificates to help farmers export the organic produce.
The market potential is high for organic produce. But farmers need to identify it. If awareness improves among farmers, more area will come under organic cultivation, they say.
Shantha Ramaswamy of Sreevatsa Organic Farm Products, who procures several products directly from the farmers, says availability of organic products also depends on weather conditions.
So, small farmers find it difficult to continuously supply specific products. However, there is a growing willingness among farmers to go organic. Many of them sell the produce in and around their farms as the demand is good for organic vegetables and fruits.