BIIO: Platform for marketing Indian organic products
by Karin Heinze (comments: 0)
The Indian organic market and in particular production have developed rapidly in recent years. India’s 650,000 organic farmers make it the country with the highest number of farmers actively involved in organic production in the world. For the seventh time, BioFach India together with India Organic (BIIO) brought producers and traders together. At the same time, it provided a networking platform for representatives from politics and associations and also an opportunity for technical discussions in the supporting conference.
Actors in the Indian and international organic trade convened for the second time in the Adlux International Convention Centre in Kochi (Kerala). During the three-day trade fair at the beginning of November 3,345 visitors met 175 exhibitors. The parallel international conference “Sustainability Development Goals through Organics” was held with 22 international speakers, and they had an audience of roughly 150 people. The International Competence Centre of Organic Agriculture (ICCOA) organised the conference and the trade fair was managed by NürnbergMesse India together with ICCOA. The dual trade fair BioFach India/ India Organic (BIIO) has set itself the goal of becoming a platform for a whole variety of producers, processors and traders.
The basics are in place – there is obvious potential
The federal state of Kerala in the south-west of Indian has, like a number of the country’s other federal states, done a lot to promote organic agriculture. However, the bottleneck continues to be the still limited access to the market, especially for cooperatives and small independent firms. The producers are predominantly small farmers who grow a wide variety of crops on 1- 3 hectares. The difficulty often lies in coordinating demand and targeted marketing. A further obstacle is not infrequently logistics. According to the research institute Forschungsinstitut Biologischer Landbau FiBL, 36% of organic farmers worldwide live in Asia, where many of them are the source of a range of organic raw materials for markets in the west.
ICCOA organises successful B2B lounge
With the particular aim of facilitating and strengthening direct contact between producers and buyers of raw materials the organic association ICCOA (International Competence Center for Organic Agriculture) again organised buyer-seller meetings at the trade fair. More than 270 discussions between exhibitors and 23 buyers from Europe, the USA, the Middle East, Asia and India took place in the lounge specifically set up for that purpose.
The ICCOA cooperates with governments and private organisations from at least 14 Indian states in order to promote the organic sector, to encourage authorities and ministries to provide support and to train farmers. “Year after year, we’re pleased to help organise this trade fair,” explained ICCOA Managing Director Manoj Menon, who is also the vice-president of the IFOAM-Asia-Group. As well as the exhibition and the conference, these matchmaking-discussions were the focal point for him and the ICCOA team. Menon estimates the value of the business transacted at around the equivalent of US$ 8.7m (+8 % compared with last year).
Creating awareness in farmers, schoolchildren and consumers
Sonia Prashar, Managing Director NürnbergMesse India, was particularly pleased that they had again succeeded in making classes of schoolchildren and end consumers aware of the organic theme. She said the trade fair was an event that was performing a huge educational role and was fixing the whole theme of organic in people’s minds. A part of this task was to persuade more farmers to convert to organic. For example, on the second day an information event was held for Indian farmers to convince them about organic farming, to explain marketing strategies for organic products and to show them development opportunities in the organic market. Again this year, the trade fair catering Organic Food Court enabled people to taste the difference between organic and conventional food. Here exhibitors and visitors could try for themselves the cuisine of both north and south India. On the last day the already well established Consumer Connect Programm was held, in which130 schoolchildren took part. Nutritionists drew this young target group’s attention to the benefits of an organic lifestyle.
Getting politicians involved is what is needed
Dr. Tej Partap, Vice-Chancellor of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology in Srinagar (Kashmir), declared in his address: “I didn’t believe we could achieve so much in the organic sector in India. The movement has grown principally because entrepreneurs, scientists and politicians have supported the issue of organics. The example of Sikkim shows “how splendidly a project can develop when the government sets goals and pursues them consistently,” he maintained. “People who don’t join the organic sector today will regret it later,” was Dr. Tej Partap’s prediction. His message was therefore “India has to grow organic.“ At the same time, he called on politicians to invest more in the organic sector.
Two founders of big Indian organic companies - Raj Seelam (Sresta) and Tapan Ray (Nature Bio Foods) – argued in favour of putting more pressure on politicians. On the one hand, the internal market has to be extended – both entrepreneurs are convinced by the growing interest of consumers in their own country. On the other, it’s a question of improving the lives of thousands of farmers by means of organic farming. The German Consul in Bangalore, Jörn Rohde, was keen to attend the opening ceremony and then to have a good look round the exhibition. In his welcoming address he spoke about German-Indian cooperation and said that in this context he could see a good opportunity for an exchange of knowledge in the organic sector.
Picture: Raj Seelam, the founder of Sresta, one of the biggest organic companies in India
Multiplicity of raw materials and growth of professional firms
Some Indian companies have already made a name for themselves with their products in the organic markets in the west. Brands like Sresta Organics, Sunstar Organics, Radico, Nature Biofoods, Agronic Foods, Organic Tattva, Amaara Foods, Rapid Organics, MRT Organics, Plantrich Agritech, Camson Bio-technologies, Network of Asia and Pacific Producers, Sarveshwar Organic Foods Ltd., Agronic International, Bioagri Corp and other companies were very satisfied with BIIO. Also newcomers like Dhatu Organics (video interview), Brahm Arpan and Amaara Foods experienced a successful premiere. Supported by the organic textile organisation Global Organic Textile Standard, firms like Paramount Textiles, Organic Weaves, Ishta and Balavigna Weaving Mills took part in the trade fair.
Picture: Sree Lakshmi Estates - Ecoteas is a successful small family business. Photo Karin Heinze
BioFach 2016: Indian Pavilion
From 10 – 14 February 2016 the following Indian firms will be represented in Hall 5.215 and in the Vivaness Hall 7A. Find all links to the companies website and the Biofach/ Vivaness online catalogue (second link).
EcoTeas / Information