Sharmila Oswal - Founder of Basillia Organics & 1Organic - talks about organic farming, challenges and advantages, millet consumption in India, and how Basillia Organics, through its social enterprise model, is working towards making pesticide-free food accessible to masses
Mother is a Bar at Law from the UK, and a Water Diplomat from MIT Harvard-USA, and, son a graduate in Philosophy and Economics. Mother-son duo Sharmila and Shubham Oswal decided to leave their careers behind to start a social enterprise startup – Basillia Organics for the cause they believed in – to make organic food accessible to the masses. Their brand 1Organic promotes organic staples and snacks made from natural ingredients, grown using traditional methods and indigenous Vedic and heirloom seeds nurtured in the forests.
With Covid claiming the lives of several of their family members and friends, they reailsed that food is one of the major reasons for lack of immunity amongst people. “Today, every other person is suffering from diabetes, thyroid, blood pressure, cholesterol, cancer or hormonal issues, all thanks to pesticides, chemicals and GMO-laced food we consume. Since good organic food is 10-times costlier, not many people are buying it. So, we both decided to make organic food accessible to the masses,” says Sharmila Oswal.
The result: they left behind their glamorous careers and founded Basillia Organics. Sharmila decided to work with the soil through her social organic agriculture, water and food security nexus. Shubham Oswal brought in his international exposure in related fields (from having worked in France, Canada, Sweden and Singapore).
“We use one of the most advanced technologies and machinery for our packaging operations. We use automated and semi-automated packaging lines, thereby reducing manual interventions. Basillia creates a platform for organic farmers and, in turn, sells their produce to marquee clients like TATA, ITC, Big Basket, etc. Our experience in respected fields helped us float the venture and run it successfully,” Sharmila tells AYUVE.
In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recognised and lauded the agropreneur for her relentless efforts to empower women.
1Organic for Cruelty-Free Organic Staples
Yet another brainchild of the mother-son duo, Pune-based 1Organic is a recognised brand for affordable, cruelty-free organic staples and snacks, which help enrich a healthy lifestyle amongst communities who find it difficult to switch from junk foods.
“Plants here are grown by indigenous Vedic and heirloom seeds nurtured in forests with high organic carbon and rich humus land. Natural fertilizers like manure and compost are used to ensure healthy produce. Weeds are controlled naturally through crop rotation, hand weeding, mulching and tilling. 1Organic innovates and creates the same kind of tasty food, using millets and other indigenousingredients, so that nutrition and health are never compromised. It provides an entire range of organic products at an affordable pricing to help consumers with their eating choices,” elucidates Sharmila Oswal, Managing Director of 1Organic.
The firm follows strict regulations and quality checks in the procurement of the raw material directly from the organic farm. The products are ISO certified and grown organically with zero usage of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. It strictly avoids the usage of any chemicals and pesticides for increasing the shelf-life of the produce. Currently, it is present in 500+ stores across 12 cities like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, catering to more than 10,000-plus customers.
Basillia Develops Farmers’ Clusters
Both the companies offer over 150 products to consumers – from groceries to ready-to-eat snacks – all sourced from 5000-plus tribal farmers located in 13 farmers’ clusters developed by Basillia, across the country. “We also have women farmers’ clusters cultivating farm products for us. Our philosophy is to empower women farmers by creating sustainable livelihoods for them and their families.”
The companies deploy field teams to assist farmers with seeds, sowing, harvesting, etc. After harvesting, they arrange for mandatory lab sampling/testing of the entire batch. “Only after getting positive results, the produce is shifted to our processing centre located in Pune where we grade, sort, clean, grind, crush and then pack it. Our processing centre can handle a capacity of more than 10 metric tonnes per day,” the entrepreneur-healthcare influencer explains.
As an internationally certified (EU, US, Canada, India etc.) organic foods company, Basillia Organics aims to empower farmers and women, by providing them with opportunities to cultivate, process and package organic foods. All the products are made as per Ayurveda and native Vedic culture, using stone grinders. Here, food is processed using 100% organic methods like natural fumigation, natural preservation by using Neem
While on the topic, here are a few insights on the status of organic farming and market in India:
Thanks to the Green Revolution of 1960s, agriculture in India was converted into a modern industrial system by the adoption of technology, to overcome the enduring food crisis owing to famines and low productivity. The use of high yielding variety seeds, mechanised farm tools, irrigation facilities, pesticides and fertilisers were promoted as part of Green Revolution.
But, little did we realise that substantial increase in the production of food grains was achieved at the cost of soil health and that sustainable production at higher levels is possible only by the proper use of factors which will help to maintain the fertility of the soil. The gravity of environmental degradation resulting from faulty agricultural practices has caused alarm among the concerned farmers, scientists and conservationists. Further, greater viable and sustainable farming systems became a necessity, in view of the long-term effects of these chemicals on people’s health. Thus, organic farming turned out to be an alternative agricultural system to help overcome the problems of soil degradation, declining soil fertility and public health.
Ever wondered what’s the market for organic foods in India? According to Expert Market Research report, the Indian organic food market stood at a value of $849.5 million in 2020. For the forecast period of 2021–2026, the trend in the organic food market is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 20.5%, to reach about $2,601 million by 2026.
The study, conducted in major regional markets in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and other states, took into consideration various products like cereals, grains, spices, pulses, processed food, fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and beverages.
It observed that the rising disposable incomes, increasing population, health consciousness and consumer spending on health & wellness products served as the major market drivers. Besides, the substantial growth in e-commerce industry and the mushrooming specialty stores, convenience outlets, hypermarkets and supermarkets are aiding the related enterprises to appeal to potential customers.
These apart, the Government of India is promoting organic food by offering financial assistance to farmers through various schemes like National Food Security Mission, Mission for Integrated Horticulture Development, National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.
Certification & Merchandising – Challenges
India is home to more than 50% of certified organic producers in the world and the numbers are growing rapidly. However, with more organic food products flooding the market every day, how far can we trust their quality and nutritional values? “Well, it really depends on the brand – as to what kind of ingredients they use in their products. The core values, principles and philosophy of such brand also play a central role. The only way to be safe is to check the nutritional content and quality of the product prior to purchasing,” Sharmila Oswal asserts.
But, getting organic food certification is one of the major challenges for food manufacturers. “Organic certification process is one of the strictest in the food industry and is strictly monitored by the government. Every brand has to buy the produce only from certified processors and farmers so that the entire integrity of the chain is maintained. All transactions are monitored by the certification bodies and the Government of India, to ensure end-to-end traceability,” she explains.
After all this, the companies do come across various problems while merchandising their products: shelf life of the products, infestation problems, distribution, convincing the market and channel partners, educating consumers and many more, “which are addressed step-by-step.”
International Year of Millets
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Council and the 75th session of UN General Assembly (September 2020 - September 2021) approved India’s proposal to observe the year 2023 as ‘International Year of Millets’. Rich in protein, fibre, vitamins, phytochemicals, amino acids, antioxidants and macro and micronutrients like zinc, iron, phosphorus, copper, magnesium and manganese, millets are considered superfoods. These help maintain a healthy life and are ideal food for people suffering from chronic ailments like diabetes, obesity and heart diseases.
Roughly 90% of these nutri-cereals are grown in developing nations, mainly in Asia and Africa, where food and nutritional security are major challenges. These are known for their high drought-tolerance, can be grown in areas with infertile soils, under non-irrigated conditions and have low carbon footprint.
As per FAO, the global millet market was estimated at 28.2 million metric ton in 2019 and 30.5 million metric ton in 2020. It is projected to register a CAGR of 4.8 % during the forecast period (2022-2027). Further, India has been identified as the largest global producer of millets with a global market share of 33.3% in 2020. Rajasthan topped the list of millet-producing states in India with over 40% of total production in the country followed by Karnataka with over 3 lakh tonnes of millets every year.
Declining Domestic Consumption
Millets have been a traditional staple food for people living in rural areas and hilly regions across India. But that’s never the case with the urban population. Historically, according to Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), millets were cultivated in an area of 35-37 million hectares in India. Over the years, the cultivated area reduced to 20-22 million hectares. Most of the area under millets has been diverted largely to soybean, maize, cotton, sugarcane and sunflower.
A combination of factors like low remuneration as compared to other food crops, lack of input subsidies and price incentives, subsidised supply of fine cereals through Public Distribution System and change in consumer preference (difficulty in processing, low shelf life of flour and low social status attached to millets), have led to shift from production of millets to other competing crops. However, with its strategic planning, the IIMR is expecting to attain at least 30% increase in millet acreage over the current levels by 2050. The IIMR is estimating a demand of 30-35 million tonnes for millets in 2025.
It may be mentioned here that more than 50% of India’s produce is being exported to other countries, while the domestic consumption of millets as food staples is declining due to various factors like growing urbanization and lack of awareness on nutrition values and health benefits. Interestingly, African nations like Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Burkina and Sudan hold more than 40% of global millet consumption.
“We are innovating new products to keep people incentivised, interested and happy to consume healthy millet choices” - Sharmila Oswal
Reacting to this, Sharmila Oswal said: “Millets were the original crops of India. Wheat was, in fact, introduced by the British and promoted by foreign countries. Slowly, wheat products became the gold-standard of food in India. However, the Indian government and food scientists are now trying to make millets widely accessible, as their nutritional quotient is way higher than that of wheat or rice.”
Government to Promote Cultivation & Consumption
With a view to promote cultivation and domestic consumption, the Government of India assured support for post-harvest value addition, enhancing domestic consumption and branding of home-grown millet products. It announced Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana for Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millets Promotion, under which more land is being brought under cultivation. Also, 300 post-harvesting units have been set up in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
Few home science colleges have involved women self-help groups in preparing traditional millet-based products, besides teaching them quality control measures, packaging and labeling and hand-holding for local marketing. Such measures gave much-needed boost to millet-based food brands in India like Trumillets by Urban Millets Pvt Ltd, Slurrp Farm by Wholsum Foods, MilletAmma, Grami Superfoods, FittR, etc. These brands are creating several traditional, non-traditional, read-to-eat snacks and convenience foods with millets like roti, noodles, cake mixes, khichdi, upma, biscuits, snacks, etc.
1Organic does offer millets and millet-based products like cookies and chikki. The company is focused on bringing back the ancient grains, which our ancestors fondly called as ‘Satvikfood’. “Millets are known for their magical benefits. We are innovating new products to keep people incentivised, interested and happy to consume healthy millet choices, by eliminating junk food, refined flour, gluten, sugar, oil, etc. For example, we are getting enormous response for our Millet Noodles, Millet Pasta, Millet Khichdi, Millet Biriyani, Millet Chiwda, etc.,” Sharmila Oswal signs off.
- Basillia Organics
- Green Revolution
- organic farming
- organic food
- Sharmila Oswal
What is the ranking of India in organic farming? ›
India has emerged as one of the top three countries in the world where the area under organic agriculture expanded the maximum in 2020. India has emerged as one of the top three countries in the world where the area under organic agriculture expanded the maximum in 2020.Which company is best for organic farming? ›
Nature Bio Foods Ltd. Product Range: Organic rice, grains, flour pulses, oil & oil seeds, nuts, spices & herbs, millets, sweetener & mangoes.Which is India's certified organic food? ›
The unified logo is an identity mark to distinguish organic products from non-organic ones supported with the tagline “Jaivik Bharat” at the bottom, which signifies Organic Food from India.Which state is leading in organic farming in India? ›
During financial year 2022, Chhattisgarh had the highest organic agriculture area with over three million hectares across India. Followed by Madhya Pradesh with over 2.3 million hectares of organic farming land.Which country is No 1 in organic farming? ›
The district of Dang is the first district in Gujarat to be declared 100% organic. This has been seen as a big step in revamping the agricultural system towards sustainable farming. In addition, the government has released many schemes like the Gaay Adharit Kheti Sahay Yojana to promote 'natural farming'.Which is the best organic brand in India? ›
- SOSE. Name of Company: Suryan Organic. ...
- Terra Greens Organic. Name of Company: Terra Firma Projects Private Limited. ...
- Elworld Organic. Name of Company: Elworld Agro & Organic Foods Pvt Ltd. ...
- GIR. Name of Company: Bansi Gir Gauveda. ...
- Induz Organic. ...
- Just Organik. ...
- Farm Organic. ...
- Geo-Fresh Organic.
Today Cal-Organic is the largest organic vegetable producer in the United States. Supplying more than 65 seasonal and year-round varieties, we are proud to grow 100% of our produce on premium acreage in the USA.What to avoid in organic farming? ›
- Artificial (synthetic) fertilizers to add nutrients to the soil.
- Sewage sludge as fertilizer.
- Most synthetic pesticides for pest control.
- Using radiation (irradiation) to preserve food or to get rid of disease or pests.
Sikkim has just become the world's first organic state!
Which country eats the most organic? ›
Organic food market: leading countries 2021, based on consumption per capita. Denmark and Switzerland had the highest per capita consumption of organic food of any country in the world in 2021. That year, the average Swiss and Danish consumer purchased around 425 and 384 euros of organic food, respectively.What are the most demanding organic products in India? ›
Among the top 10 organic produces that India exported in the last three years are processed food, oil seeds, cereals and millets, sugar, spices and condiments, pulses, tea, fodder and coffee. On an average, India's organic product export is valued at $827 million every year, show data by the Ministry of Agriculture.Who is the father of organic farming in India? ›
Padma Shri–awardee Subhash Palekar is popularly known as 'Krishika Rishi' by many farming communities in India. He is an agricultural scientist who pioneered the concept of Natural Farming in the country.What is the difference between organic farming and Natural Farming? ›
In organic farming, organic fertilizers and manures like compost, vermicompost, cow dung manure, etc. are used and added to farmlands from external sources. In natural farming, neither chemical nor organic fertilizers are added to the soil.Which state in India has least organic farming? ›
You're reading. CHANDIGARH: Among all the states in the country, Punjab has the lowest number of 262 farmers practising organic farming under Participatory Guarantee System (PGS India) and just 367 have registered for the National Programme for Organic Production(NPOP) in TraceNet under third party certification.Which country is the best farm in the world? ›
In addition, France is most active in agriculture production like grapes and is the largest producer of wine in the world. And it is considered the best agriculture country in the world. Worth – There are about 7,30,000 farms in France; therefore, about 7% of the French population depend on agriculture and forestry.Where are the most organic farms in the US? ›
Organic farming in the U.S: number of certified farms 2021, by state. In 2021, the State of California had approximately 3,061 organic farms and ranches. This was the largest number of certified organic farms in the United States.Who has the best farm in the world? ›
Farms Around the World.
|1||Mudanjiang City Mega Farm, Heilongjiang, China||22,500,000 acres|
|2||Modern Dairy, Anhui, China||11,000,000 acres|
Organic farming can be up to 35% more profitable than conventional agriculture, when farmers charge a premium that certifies the products.Which is the first organic city in India? ›
In 2003, Sikkim stopped imports of chemical fertilizers in the State and since then the cultivatable land there is practically organic and farmers of Sikkim are traditional users of organic manure. “Sikkim is the first organic state in the world. All of its farmland is certified organic.
Who invented organic farming? ›
The concepts of organic agriculture were developed in the early 1900s by Sir Albert Howard, F.H. King, Rudolf Steiner, and others who believed that the use of animal manures (often made into compost), cover crops, crop rotation, and biologically based pest controls resulted in a better farming system.Which fruit is organic in India? ›
Arunachal Pradesh: India's 1st Certified Organic Fruit Kiwi Launched. Produce can be called organic if it's certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest.Who Owns Organic India? ›
Subrata Dutta. Mr. Subrata Dutta is the Group Managing Director of Organic India, a leading manufacturer and exporter of organic teas, infusions, herbal supplements and food.Who buys organic food in India? ›
“The people who buy organic foods in India are mostly health-conscious consumers who go for organic foods even though they are more expensive than conventional foods.Who owns the most farms in the USA? ›
CLAIM: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates owns the majority of America's farmland and the investment firm BlackRock holds the majority of single family houses in the country.Which state is best for organic farming? ›
Madhya Pradesh tops the listwith 0.76 million ha of area under organic cultivation — that is over 27 per cent of India's total organic cultivation area.Is organic farming profitable in USA? ›
Organic Farming is More Profitable
A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the premium for organic products make organic farming practices more profitable than conventional farming.
- Organic food is more expensive because farmers do not get as much out of their land as conventional farmers do.
- Production costs are higher because farmers need more workers.
- Marketing and distribution is not efficient because organic food is produced in smaller amounts.
One of the main problems of organic farming is that of timing. This does not concern all cases, but generally, organic produce and meats require efficient supply chains to reach the market quicker. The main difference between organic from conventional farming methods is using fewer chemicals throughout food production.Which place is good for living in India? ›
Summing Up: Most Livable Cities in India
In the 2022 list, Bangalore secured first position, followed by Pune, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Surat, Navi Mumbai, Coimbatore, Vadodara, Indore and Greater Mumbai. Cities are judged based on culture and environment, stability, health, infrastructure and education.
Which village in India switched to organic farming? ›
More than half the population living in Kedia village, which is 20 kms from Jamui district in Bihar, has switched to organic farming. "Nobody would like to eat poison.What city has the most organic food? ›
- Portland, Oregon. ...
- San Francisco, California. ...
- Providence, Rhode Island. ...
- Sacramento, California. ...
- Minneapolis, Minnesota. ...
- Boston, Massachusetts. ...
- Seattle, Washington. ...
- Austin, Texas.
The December Pew Research Center survey sought to discover Americans attitudes and buying habits toward organic foods. It discovered 34% of Americans eat some organic foods. An additional 6% eat only organic, but the majority, 59%, eats little or no organic food.What percent of American food is organic? ›
Organic Food Sales Account for Over 4% of Total U.S. Food Sales. Organic food is primarily available in conventional grocery stores, natural food stores, and direct-to-consumer markets.Where is the cleanest food in the world? ›
1. Spain. There must be something in the paella, because Spain is officially the healthiest country in the world. Citizens put an emphasis on freshness and locality when it comes to cuisine, with diets focused on olive oil, fresh vegetables, lean meats, and red wine.Why organic products are expensive in India? ›
Growing Organic Food is Labour Intensive
The usage of fertilisers and pesticides makes it easier for farmers to grow conventional food with minimum time and labour. Since cheap fertilisers and pesticides cannot be used in organic food, farming the latter requires high-quality, round-the-clock manual care.
Low Supply, High Demand – The yield from organic farms is typically low. Organic farming techniques yield anywhere between 30-to-50 percent less output. To make the same amount of profit, the produce is priced high. The supply, too, is low and the demand very high, naturally pushing the price up.What is the future of organic farming in India? ›
Currently India has 4.43 million organic farmers according to the Economic Survey 2022-23, a significant jump from 2018. The Union Budget 2023-24 aims to help 10 million more farmers to adopt natural farming over the next three years.Who is the youngest organic farmer in India? ›
Janardan Khorate, also famous as Saladbaba, has been in the organic farming industry ever since he was young. He learned from his mentor David Gower and was upskilled to become India's youngest organic farmer.What happened to organic farming in India? ›
India has witnessed a threefold increase in land under organic cultivation: from 5,28,171 ha in 2007 to 1.2 million ha in 2014. India is also home to the highest number of organic producers, as per one estimate. However, this captures only around 2.5% of the total land under cultivation in the country.
Who is the youngest organic farmer? ›
Janardan Khorate, famously known as Saladbaba is the youngest organic farmer in India who started working at the sweet age of 16.Is organic farming really healthier? ›
And while organic foods have a reputation for being healthy and nutritious, studies show that there is actually very little difference in nutritional value between organic and conventional foods.Is organic farming better than fertilizers? ›
Organic farming is widely considered to be a far more sustainable alternative when it comes to food production. The lack of pesticides and wider variety of plants enhances biodiversity and results in better soil quality and reduced pollution from fertilizer or pesticide run-off.Is organic farming cheaper? ›
Organic and conventional vegetables are grown in similar ways, so the price difference tends to be lower. Organic farmers can save money by not using pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, but they may have to pay more for workers to pull weeds or control bugs, Moghtader said.Which is the best organic farming in India? ›
Sikkim, Uttarakhand, and Tripura are the major states to cultivate organic products in India. Other states for organic farming are Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.Why organic farming is not adopted in India? ›
Because organic methods starve plants, particularly a huge nitrogen deficit. They also allow pests and weeds that damage and kill plants. To top it all, organic productivity is often hampered by the use of low-productivity (traditional, heirloom) seeds. This combination is deadly.
India has emerged as one of the top three countries in the world where the area under organic agriculture expanded the maximum in 2020. India has emerged as one of the top three countries in the world where the area under organic agriculture expanded the maximum in 2020.Is India the biggest contributor of organic farming? ›
India is home to 30% of total organic producers in the world having 2.30 million ha. Total organic cultivation area, 27, 59,660 total farmers (11, 60,650 PGS and 15, 99,010 India Organic), 1703 total processors and 745 traders.What agricultural products is India ranked #1 in? ›
India is the world's largest producer of milk, pulses and jute, and ranks as the second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnut, vegetables, fruit and cotton.What is India's number one agriculture? ›
Punjab is the most fertile state on earth. It is best to produce wheat, sugarcane, rice, vegetables, and fruits in Punjab. Punjab's other name is the Granary of India and India's breadbasket.
Can organic farming be successful in India? ›
As per some estimates, organic farming across the world increases local species richness by ~34% and abundance by ~50%. However, this depends on various factors such as the larger landscape that the farms are located in. Organic farming is catching on in India.How much do organic farmers earn in India? ›
Employees who knows Organic Farming earn an average of ₹20lakhs, mostly ranging from ₹15lakhs per year to ₹40lakhs per year based on 33 profiles. The top 10% of employees earn more than ₹35lakhs per year.Which country is best in agriculture in the world? ›
China is the world's largest rice, wheat, and potato producer. They are also the second-largest producer of corn. China has over one billion acres of arable land, about one-fifth of the world's total. The country's agricultural output has steadily increased due to improved technology and increased investment.Where does most of America's food come from? ›
In fact, in 2016, close to 90% of the food and beverage products consumed in America were produced in the U.S. According to the USDA, in 2021 the top five producing states were California, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and Minnesota and the leading farm products in the U.S. were cattle, corn, soybeans, milk and other dairy ...Which country is most advanced in agriculture? ›
1. China. Production – China has only 10% of arable land worldwide and produces a quarter of the global grain output. China leads the agriculture production of fruit, vegetables, cereals, cotton, eggs and poultry.Who is the richest farmer in India? ›
Ram Saran Verma is the Indian most affluent farmer who brings advanced and more profitable farming techniques.Which is the best farming in India? ›
- Madhya Pradesh.
- Andhra Pradesh.
Among the top 10 organic produces that India exported in the last three years are processed food, oil seeds, cereals and millets, sugar, spices and condiments, pulses, tea, fodder and coffee. On an average, India's organic product export is valued at $827 million every year, show data by the Ministry of Agriculture.Which country has the most organic farms producers? ›
Since global statistics have first been collated, Australia has reported more certified organic hectares than any other country. Australia currently accounts for 35 million certified organic hectares which is 54% of the world's certified organic agricultural land and 8.8% of Australia's agricultural land.