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

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