Society

This directory documents over 2,000 suppliers, stores and brands of organic produce and products in India

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The seventh edition of the Directory of Organic Businesses in India 2020 was released recently

Earlier this month, Vandana Sudhakar Dutt and Suruchi Ailawadi released the seventh edition of the Directory of Organic Businesses in India 2020 at BioFach India, the trade fair for organic products. Brought out yearly, it has over 2,000 organic stores, brands, suppliers, farms, seed-sourcing hubs, from across the country (arranged state-wise), the 120-page book calls itself the “Organic Yellow Pages”. There are entries from Aaranyaa to Zeme Organics, and places as diverse as Muzaffarpur and Vijaywada. Southern India and the North-East, they say, is where the largest amount of ‘organic activity’ is happening.

A little over a decade ago, Vandana and Suruchi left their jobs in international business and software development respectively. The Gurugram-based women felt they couldn’t do justice to both work and children despite a great deal of flexibility from their offices. Once they’d quit though, they decided they wanted to do something productive outside of managing the home. “We were sure it had to be around the reason we’d left work — our children,” says Suruchi. Simultaneously, they were also exploring healthy ways of eating, and began a blog, eSvasa.com that is now the hub for some part of their directory and also gives information around the business of organic, like certification.

This directory documents over 2,000 suppliers, stores and brands of organic produce and products in India

In their journey, they have learnt a great deal. “Vandana Shiva the founder of Navdanya in Dehradun and Mukesh Gupta from Morarka in Jaipur were very helpful and inspired us to start. They helped us understand what we eventually wanted to do,” says Vandana. Once people knew about them, they began inviting them to their farms.

On one such visit, when the duo landed up early, they chatted with the workers only to find that the farmer was indeed using lab-chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides, though he was claiming he wasn’t. This, they say, is the problem: it’s difficult to always be sure about organic produce. Another problem is that when retailers have no takers they shut down. “It’s a disorganised sector. A few people think this is a lucrative sector, but when they realise it’s a challenge to change mindets, they exit. There’s a the lack of trust, certification is expensive, and people have to be convinced to move to organic despite these. Even if it’s a 50-70% benefit, it is still a benefit,” says Suruchi.

This directory documents over 2,000 suppliers, stores and brands of organic produce and products in India

On a positive note, the community is also tightly-knit, and organisations like Sharan that encourage a clean diet, circulate the directory. Initially, the book helped home consumers of organic produce. Now it is beginning to help retailers, farmers, and suppliers, as a take-off point to those who want to enter the organic business. “What gives us most joy is when we meet someone who has used our directory so well, there are markings and notes, and it looks well worn,” says Vandana.

It’s paid off at home — their children, they say, are in the know about farms, organic systems, and healthy eating. Plus, they’ve managed to overcome language barriers with farmers who now carry produce for them even if they’re coming from a distant state. “There’s also a lot of goodwill. People will call us up to tell us if something has shut down or started up. It’s good to meet people passionate about organic,” she says.

The Directory of Organic Businesses in India 2020 is available at eSvasa.com, ₹400

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 4:59:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/a-directory-that-documents-over-2000-suppliers-stores-and-brands-of-organic-produce-and-products-in-india/article30104189.ece

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