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Organic veggie market spreads to small towns

New Delhi,Oct 26 (): Organic food, fancied only by the health-conscious metropolitan elite, is now popular in smaller towns due to various initiatives taken by entrepreneurs across the country. Many farmers who have taken to organic farming are now able to sell organic vegetables in small towns at a premium over the fertilizer used vegetables, and are making more money since there is no middlemen.

In Aurangabad, every Sunday, dozens of farmers set up stalls for organic vegetables and their buyers are the middle class. The vegetables are priced 15% more than the non -organic ones but there is no drop in sales.

The Institute for Integrated Rural Development (IIRD) is instrumental in creating markets for farmers in Marathwada and Vidharbha regions. Vegetables like allu leaves, cherry tomato and chival leaves that one cannot buy in any shop or store attracts buyers. In Kolkata the organic veggie markets take place twice a week at Salt Lake and Dum Dum. Here there is a premium of 20%.

In Bangalore , two weekly bazaars are on at Shantiniketan at Purbapalli and Binoy Bhawan. Farmers also take the produce on cycles to homes for sale. The produce sales touch 600-1,000 kg.

Kobe University, Japan, study report on organic bazaar in Aurangabad says that by direct sales the farmers were getting 53% more on grains and 118% more for leafy veggies while it was 87% higher than market price for vegetables.

In Kanyakumari, there is a Friday organic market where farmers sell rice, coconut, spices and seasonal vegetables at 25% more than the regular market price. The market has 90 farmers and has been functioning for past five years.

It was in Bangalore that the first organic market of South India started in 2010. The three weekly markets are closed and farmers have moved to the highway. Daily travellers and those who drive on weekends frequent this market.

In Thiruvananthapuram, the Venganoor Panchayat is the centre where organic bazaar was started by three farmers in 2003. Now it has 300 farmers and sells Rs 4 lakh worth vegetables. The bazaar functions in a car garage. Chennai-based Ananthoo Satyanarayan got a buyer who offered a 200 sq ft garage to sell organic produce.

For most of the farmers, they could travel within 10 kms to reach the town or city but with real estate builders buying up land on the outskirts of the city, a farmer has to travel at least 50 kms to come to the bazaar.