Indian umbrella organization ICCOA creates market access
The International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture ICCOA has been working as an umbrella organization for organic farming for more than ten years. The organization´s vision is not only to enable farmer to produce organic crops but also to help them find appropriate markets, both national and abroad. Two important steps have been accomplished by establishing C-SOF, the Centre for Sustainable and Organic Agriculture, and SusAgri Development Private Ltd., creating market linkage for organic products sourced directly from farmers.
A Decade of ICCOA. Graphic ICCOA
In 2004 ICCOA started as a knowledge centre but has been growing fast and today the competence centre, cooperating with around 270 member organizations in 12 Indian states, is reaching more than 200,000 farmers – almost one third of the 650,000 organic farmers in India. ICCOA collaborates and networks with individuals, farmer co-ops, consumer and voluntary organizations, research institutions and government departments in India and South Asia.
ICCOA organized the precursor event of BioFach India, called India Organic, which is now part of the annual BioFach India together with India Organic (BIIO) (see our earlier report). Meanwhile there are many other events (Uttarakhand trade fair and conference): on the one hand to raise consumer awareness of organic products and, on the other, to provide market opportunities for farmers.
Manoj Menon, CEO of ICCOA, at the opening of BIIO. Photo © Karin Heinze
Centre for Sustainable and Organic Agriculture (C-SOF)
Beginning in June 2015, after three years of searching, ICCOA inaugurated its own plot of land near Hosur, 80 km from Bangalore. It is the heart of the new center that is going to be set up - C-SOF. This will serve as a training and demonstration center for organic farming, with model cultivation, animal husbandry and a composting plant. Renewable energy and soil protection will be topics at C-SOF and activities for families will also be offered.
An component essential for the successful long-term creation of a sustainable organic movement, in addition to knowledge, is a marketing structure. The produce of farmers must be bundled to match the different sales channels, according to individuals’ needs. This is a major challenge in a vast country like India where large areas have poor infrastructure, which is the case in rural areas in particular. This is precisely the point where SusAgri tries to close the gap and wants to create a direct linkage between growers and buyers.
BioFach India pavilion of the state Uttarachand. Photo Karin Heinze
SusAgri sources directly from farmers
SusAgri Development Private Ltd. was founded in 2010 to enable organic farmers to access the market. The company collaborates closely and directly with groups of farmers in different regions in India. SusAgri can currently offer a range of organic products mainly from the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. Overall, SusAgri cooperates with more than 10,200 farmers cultivating 13,500 ha. Many of these projects are under the management of ICCOA. The main crops are chili, nutmeg, turmeric, black pepper, coconut, ginger and cumin.
SusAgri offers all kind of raw material. Photo Screenshot SusAgri website.
“Our intention was to contribute to a significant increase in farmers' incomes through a short supply chain and to develop value and fair trade relations,” said Ranjith Kumar, the director of SusAgri. "We bring together farmers and businesses, because we believe this is the best way to take the organic movement in India forwards," Mr. Kumar says. "SusAgri have specialized to provide farmers’ products suitable to the requirements and expectations of customers. Our partners are renowned service providers, so that the quality and integrity of the product is guaranteed," he emphasizes.
The interviews with ICCOA Managing Director Manoj Menon (1rst part) and Ranjith Kumar (2nd part), Director of the marketing firm SusAgri, were held during a journey by boat. The trip to the backwaters in Kerala was the conclusion of a visit by purchasers to BioFach India/ India Organic (BIIO), that has become a regular event offered by ICCOA since 2013. Again in November 2016, purchasers will travel to BIIO (10-12.11 in Neu Delhi), their visit followed by an excursion to projects in Northern India and the Himalaya.
Please find attached a brochure giving the details of the produce the SusAgri catalogue.
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