Jaipur: The Covid-19 pandemic saw a remarkable surge in sales of organic products in Rajasthan with 91 per cent sellers and 89 per cent consumers opting to go organic, a survey by CUTS international has found.
The sellers said they have seen a substantial growth in sales of and income from organic products during the pandemic.
Around 90% consumers said they felt their overall health and immunity have improved with intake of organic products, the survey by CUTS, a non-profit NGO that works on issues of public interest.
The online survey was conducted among 2000 consumers (200 in each of the 10 target districts) and 200 sellers, including retailers and distributors. The survey was conducted in October-November 2020 with 10 partners of CUTS in the 10 districts viz. Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Pratapgarh, Udaipur, Jhalawar, Kota, Sawai Madhopur and Dausa.
George Cherian, director at CUTS International, said the main reason for shifting to organic products was health. “In absence of a vaccine, people felt the only way to enhance immunity against Covid-19 was to have chemical and pesticide free food products.”
Cherian said they saw a tremendous increase in people growing their own food in their gardens, kitchens gardens or terraces during the pandemic.
He said another reason for the shift was that during the pandemic and lockdown, people did not want to travel out to buy food from vegetable vendors and mandis which were seen as super spreaders of the deadly virus which has infected 3.14 lakh people and caused 2744 deaths in the state.
Cherian said in Rajasthan only 2.5 per cent farmers engaged in organic cultivation. CUTS is working with farmers to help them shift from conventional to organic farming, he said. In the last two years, 260 farmers have shifted to organic farming, he added.
Cherian said a CUTS study in Jaipur city found that 97.5 per cent people said they were willing to go for organic products. "The demand is there but supply is short so we hope to bridge the gap,” he said.
Among the other findings of the survey are that around 62% sellers confirmed selling organic products along with other non-organic products.
With regard to choice of products, the highest demand is for organic vegetables with 74 per cent customers buying them, 6% buy organic fruits, 13% buy grains and only 1% buy organic spices.
The survey showed that 46% of sellers said consumers use various online platforms for buying and 52% said that consumers directly buy from them.
Among those who were surveyed, 72 per cent consumers acknowledged that the cost of organic products is higher than non-organic but 86 per cent said that they hoped to carry on with consumption of organic products.
However, about 60 per cent of consumers said that they face difficulty in locating organic food stores and there is also shortage in supply of such organic food products.
Deepak Saexna, assistant director at CUTS International, said the shortage highlights the gap between farmers, middleman and consumers of organic food products, which must be rectified or the long term demand of organic food products in the market may be hampered.
He said the pandemic seems to have made organic products more attractive to consumers and this growth should continue even after the pandemic
“It should become a habitual routine among the end users and we should hope to be a fully organic converted state and nation in the next few years,” he said.