Mumbai’s first organic farmers’ market had its debut one week ago in Bandra in the city’s west, giving farmers from across the state of Maharashtra the opportunity to sell their produce directly to city residents without involving any middlemen.
The fresh foods were sold out before noon, and the market will now be held on a weekly basis with the goal of building ongoing support for the farmers and assisting them to receive a fair price for their work and to encourage a next generation to take up farming.
Organizer Kavita Mukhi said they hoped to encourage similar markets across India, as typically when produce finally reaches the city markets it can be priced at up to ten times what the middleman paid the farmer. “If we do not support and encourage the farmer, they will sell their land and move to the cities and there will be no food for your children to eat. This is not a joke. This is real. This is the inevitability we face,” said Mukhi.
“Government policies and existing middlemen systems have put the farmers in this precarious situation. Pesticides, chemicals and GM seeds enslave them further. Enslaving farmers means enslaving the nation which has an agriculture base,” said Mukhi.
EcoCert, the international agency that certifies organic produce is also involved, marking a step forward to clarify organic farming in India. “In India many who claim to be organic may not be; and many who don’t claim to be, and may not even know the word organic, may actually be organic”, Mukhi explained.
Mukhi’s inspiration for the market comes from her deep concern that modern culture will loose respect for farming as a way of life, and loose farmers’ intimate knowledge of the flowers, fruits, plants, soil and rhythms of the land. Traditional Indian cultural thought used to determine that the most intelligent son of a family become a farmer, while the second-most intelligent son, a businessman, and the least intelligent son would take a job in any service industry.
The Organic Farmer’s Market takes place every Sunday from 10am-5pm.