Saturday, September 13, 2014
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Sher Singh with his organic produce.
Sher Singh’s effort is a perfect bottoms up model to sell organic without falling into gibberish of corporate branding and certification 
 
MARKETING REMAINS a major bottleneck for success of organic farming. All the growers are tapping into a very small segment of urban customers and thus registering losses. Solace and inspiration can, however, be found in certain flag bearers of organic who have developed local markets for their harvest. They require no swanky showrooms, certification or a brand name. Good quality produce flying off from their counters and cash flowing in remain the only credential for the success. 
 
One such farmer is Sher Singh of Mirpur village in Jalandhar district of Punjab. Singh is the most sought after vegetable seller in nearby Shahkot village. Notwithstanding the fact that his offerings always cost Rs 15-20 higher than market price, they are sold within two and a half hours of his arrival. Sher Singh never believed that going organic will actually spell big profits for him. Till 2009, Sher Singh was only selling vegetables at his village but going organic opened new avenues. “A friend advised me to go for it claiming chemical-free has great future. I never believed him but started experimenting since I always wanted to go natural. As the amount of agrochemicals used in fields is rising, so are the diseases. I felt at least this much service I should do to the society by offering healthier food,” he recalls. 
 
A friend advised me to go for it claiming chemical-free has great future. I never believed him but started experimenting since I always wanted to go natural. As the amount of agrochemicals used in fields is rising, so are the diseases. I felt at least this much service I should do to the society by offering healthier food
 
At first, Sher Singh got very dismal results. The vegetables took longer to develop and were smaller in size. “Now it’s been five years and not only the produce is good, they taste great. It’s because of the organic tag that my vegetables are in great demand across Shahkot,” he says. Singh started taking vegetables to Shahkot where the friend, who motivated him to take up chemical-free farming, also referred a few customers. “Buyers are usually reluctant initially as the vegetable is costlier than those grown using chemicals. So, they start with small quantities but after experiencing better quality, they stick to it. Many say instead of spending on medicines in future, we would instead buy costlier but better food today,” he informs. With the word-of-mouth publicity, his popularity has risen so much that he does not need to visit the customers anymore. “I have around 35-40 families which are regular buyers. Others just call me on mobile, get my location and reach there to get the supplies,” he explains.  
Buyers are usually reluctant initially as the vegetable is costlier than those grown using chemicals. So, they start with small quantities but after experiencing better quality, they stick to it. Many say instead of spending on medicines in future, we would instead buy costlier but better food today
Sher Singh is doing organic farming on six acres, including 3-4 acres kept for vegetables. He also grows turmeric, basmati rice and wheat without any chemicals. “Though the vegetables are also looking better now, I still have to sell them at higher rate since these take more time to grow,” he explains. Sher Singh’s motor-run cart offers around 30 vegetables, pulses, turmeric and dalia (wheat-based porridge). In the field, he applies a mixture of cow dung and urine, jiggery and gram flour, which has given good results. “I also do mulching of unnecessary grass and vegetable waste. It helps increase the soil biomass,” he informs. Singh still gets questions about the higher than market rates from newcomers. “I tell them I sell vegetables not poison and they understand. People are getting aware about what they are eating and I think it’s a good sign as once more residents start demanding chemical-free food, farmers would be forced to provide them. And cost would not be an issue,” he says optimistically.
 
Sher Singh has cracked the path to success based on hard work. “I don’t run an organic store in town nor do I sell my stock to a bigger company. Instead, I take the produce on my motor-run cart to the customers. This reduces cost and gets me enough money to carry on with organic farming. And along the way, I am getting more people into healthy eating,” he asserts. 
 
I don’t run an organic store in town nor do I sell my stock to a bigger company. Instead, I take the produce on my motor-run cart to the customers. This reduces cost and gets me enough money to carry on with organic farming. And along the way, I am getting more people into healthy eating
Here’s to many more Sher Singh’s who are challenging the top down approach to marketing of organic produce.
 
This write up was done with support of Kheti Virasat Mission
 

Comments

Thats an encouraging write up on how the organic producers do not end up paupers. Kudos

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