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Sourcing in India: tracking down organic raw materials

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

India is an important source of raw materials for organic products: the sub-continent offers tea, coffee, herbs and spices, fruit, pulses, soya, coconuts and organic cotton. BioFach India together with India Organic acts both as a networking facility for international buyers and exporters and as a market place for the products from numerous small farmer projects. The trade fair, that is held in Bangalore, is creating a role for itself as a contact exchange for the Indian organic market. Karin Heinze spoke with various market participants and interested buyers from Europe. On a journey to Orisha and Nagaland, she and a group of buyers visited a number of producer projects. (You can watch it on Video, too)
(Picture: Before BioFach opened: women preparing a seed mandala at the entrance to the area occupied by the state-run joint stands)
Lots of things are a little different in India, an example being the opening ceremony at the fifth BioFach India: two long rows of chairs on the stage for ministers, other political actors and important invited guests to sit and wait to speak or just to listen to the speeches. The young Minister for Agriculture from Karnataka, who has been in the post only since May 2013, is committed and clearly pro organic in what he says. Karnataka, in the south of India and the federal state in which Bangalore is located, has supported the organic movement and BioFach since it chose the IT city three years ago as the venue for the trade fair. (Picture: BioFach India in Bangalore gained a lot of interest)

Minister Krishna Byregowda (second from right side in the picture below) explains that organic agriculture is not just a method of production but a conviction. He said the challenge is to establish processing companies alongside professional production in order to keep the value chain within the country. Byregowda: “We intend to give that our support. It takes time to convince more farmers of the benefits of organic agriculture, and BioFach is a great help in this respect.” (Picture: Raj Seelam, on the board of ICCOA, founder and owner of Sresta Ltd., urged politicians to support the organic industry)

Also Raj Seelam (speaker), a new member of the board of the ICCOA (International Competence Center for Organic Agriculture) and himself the founder of the organic company Sresta, emphasized in his speech the concepts and ideas underlying the organic movement. “No other country is better suited to the philosophy of living in harmony with nature than India.” He said this was the reason why he was confident that this philosophy of peace and harmony would continue to spread rapidly across India. He nevertheless called on politicians to accelerate this process. Ultimately, sustainable development can only build on a foundation of demand, reliable markets and corresponding consumer awareness. “These are key issues and tasks that have to be faced by both the responsible politicians and companies. We must work together to develop awareness and markets,” Seelam asserted. He added that, in this context, the founding of the IFOAM-Group Asia was an especially pleasing and forward-looking initiative. (Picture: SoulTree is the first BDIH certified cosmetic line in India)

BioFach India together with India Organic was held for the third time in Bangalore and for the first time under the management of the newly founded subsidiary NürnbergMesse India. Mrs Sonia Prashar is the managing director of the company, and she knows the Indian market well. In conversation with Karin Heinze, she emphasised the good relations with the organic exhibitors and the sensible sharing of duties with their partner, the ICCOA. While NürnbergMesse India looks after the national exhibiting firms and the organization, the ICCOA focuses on organizing the area where the federal states introduce their support programmes and state initiatives, and small farmers and small firms present their products. (Pictures: stand of the federal state Sikkim)

(Pictures: A number of stands were very professional: Amira offers a wide assortment, Sanjeevani and Sresta also with ready to export products as well as for the domestic market) 

(Video: Interview with NürnbergMesse India’s Managing Director Sonia Prashar)

Aside from the hurley-burley of the fair, the Buyer´s Lounge was a quiet spot where interested buyers from Europe and the USA could discuss issues and ideas with Indian firms keen to export their goods. In the matchmaking discussions the buyers from Europe were mainly interested in finding new sources of raw materials and making contact with Indian firms. Ranjith Kumar from the ICCOA had matched the interests of the buyers to the firms’ representatives he invited to the Lounge. The group from Germany was very pleased with this coordinated approach and with the quality of their discussions. The German consultant Gerald A. Herrmann, Organic Services, Munich and Bangalore was impressed by the increasing professionalism of the fair and the domestic market to gather speed. Although there are some things to improve he appreciated that the development of the organic market in India gain positive dynamics. (Picture: Buyer´s Lounge: Work done, happy faces) 

(Videos: Statements on the discussions in the Buyer´s Lounge)

Verena Zydek, i+m natural personal care company, Germany

Simon van Hilten, Ca´dei Fiori, organic medicinal herbs, teas, spices, Italy

After two days of trade fair, a group of four, accompanied by ICCOA project leader Rohit Gakhar, set out for the north-east. The objective was visiting various projects in the State Odisha (Orisha) and the State of Nagaland, first and foremost those growing citrus fruit, mango, pineapple and turmeric. Susanne Volk from the specialist for oils and fats in the Allgäu, AOT, was thrilled: “It was an excellent opportunity to have a look at country life and work in India and to make contacts. German manufacturers should be willing to invest far more in direct contact with producers, and in India for example they should support project creation.” Verena Zydek too, a buyer at the natural cosmetics manufacturer i+m in Berlin, found the insight she got into organic production in India very informative: “It was impressive to see the level of ambition and commitment of people working in the organic sector. I+m already supports a number of farming and Fairtrade projects all over the world, and we’d be pleased to get involved in projects in India too.” (Picture: Mango and turmeric project in Orisha)

(Video: Organic pineapple farm in Nagaland)


The organic organization ICCOA, that was founded in 2003 and has its headquarters in Bangalore, is active all over India in promoting the organic industry. Among the missions of this NGO are creating and monitoring cropping projects, spreading the organic idea, helping farmers to convert to organic, advising on marketing, running seminars for small farmers and collaborating with regional and national authorities and governments. The ICCOA also organized the precursor to BioFach - India Organic – and in conjunction with NürnbergMesse India it is responsible for the annual event BioFach India together with India Organic. This year, in cooperation with Karin Heinze from Bio-Markt.Info, the ICCOA also arranged a trip for buyers. The Buyers Delegation involved visiting the trade fair with matchmaking discussions and a subsequent trip to various farming projects in east and north-east India.

(Pictures: Hundreds of thousands of small farmers are already engaged in organic production. To improve their prospects, processing and marketing have to be strengthened)




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