It's trust v certification
For farmers, trust sells more than organic licence
Aand Standards FOOD SAFETY Authority of India (fssai) official walked into Restore, an organic food store at Kottivakkam in Chennai. He picked up a packet of rice off the shelf and noticed some bugs in it.“How can you sell groceries with bugs?” he asked. The staff told him their customers buy their goods precisely because of the bugs in them. The official was amused, but then asked to see the organic certificates of the farmers who supplied the store.The staff told him the supplying farmers did not have certification.Taken aback,the official asked, “How will your customers trust that your products are organic?”
“We told him our customers trust our products precisely because our farmers don’t have certificates but are part of our trust-network. The kind of customers we have would rather trust people than institutions and would rather support small farmers than big landlords and industrialists,” says Sangeetha Shriram, one of the founders of the store.The incident ended with the bemused official handing them their licence and buying a few products in the bargain.
One of the main bottlenecks in marketing organic food is certification – for all farmers it is a hassle, for small farmers it is an expensive task. And for customers, certified organic food means a premium price that is unaffordable.
But is organic certification the best way to get trusted organic food? Farmers,
PHOTOGRAPHS: APARNA PALLAVI / CSE Organic food outlet Restore, which has become a household name in Chennai, has an annual turnover of ` 1 crore