Ris­ing de­mand for residue-free veg­eta­bles FARM TO FORK

The dras­tic shift in con­sumer be­hav­iour to­wards healthy con­sump­tion has cre­ated an enor­mous op­por­tu­nity for many bud­ding en­trepreneurs to en­ter residue-free farm­ing. Keep­ing in mind the “eat healthy and stay young” mantra of the younger gen­er­a­tion, it is

Progressive Grocer (India) - - Contents - By Nilesh Pal­re­sha The writer is Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Earth­food, which grows and sells a wide range of residue-free fruits and veg­eta­bles on its 206 acres of farm­land near Pune.

Healthy con­sump­tion has cre­ated an op­por­tu­nity for en­trepreneurs to en­ter residue-free farm­ing.

Eat healthy and stay young is the new mantra for the young gen­er­a­tion that be­lieves in stay­ing fit. Con­tribut­ing to this be­lief is the huge in­flu­ence of so­cial me­dia in the health care seg­ment, which has led to this re­mark­able change in eat­ing habits of a ma­jor­ity in the pop­u­la­tion. In sup­port of this change, there has been a sharp rise in the de­mand of residue­free veg­eta­bles. This dras­tic shift in con­sumer be­hav­ior has cre­ated an enor­mous op­por­tu­nity for many bud­ding en­trepreneurs to en­ter residue-free farm­ing.

Residue-free farm­ing is the use of or­gan­i­cally de­rived bio­cides and bio-fer­til­iz­ers to pro­tect the crops and en­hance their growth. Con­sid­er­ing the role that tech­nol­ogy plays in the en­vi­ron­ment, it is im­pos­si­ble to omit its role in the field of agri­cul­ture. By adopt­ing mod­ern day agri-tech­nolo­gies like green­houses, drip ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem, fer­ti­ga­tion, in­te­grated fer­til­iz­ers man­age­ment, in­te­grated pest man­age­ment, residue­free pro­duc­tion, rain water har­vest­ing, high den­sity plan­ta­tion, con­tour farm­ing, waste land uti­liza­tion, etc., it be­comes rel­a­tively easy to main­tain the qual­ity of the pro­duce and also add to its nu­tri­tional value.

Keep­ing in mind the “eat healthy and stay young” mantra of the younger gen­er­a­tion, it is es­sen­tial to un­der­stand the con­cept of farm to fork. It in­volves re­duc­ing/ min­i­miz­ing the hu­man han­dling of the pro­duce which, in turn, en­hances the qual­ity of the pro­duce. In or­der to meet the ex­pected stan­dards of the con­sumers, it is nec­es­sary to in­te­grate the process of residue-free farm­ing. The process of grow­ing the pro­duce starts form crop se­lec­tion – land prepa­ra­tion – seed se­lec­tion – seed sow­ing – ir­ri­ga­tion – crop growth – har­vest­ing – grad­ing – pack­ag­ing – trans­porta­tion – re­tail out­lets/ cus­tomers. An im­por­tant el­e­ment to note in the process is the lack of use of chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers and use of nat­u­ral fer­til­iz­ers like cow dung and earth­worm ma­nure. This one change it­self ac­counts for a big dif­fer­ence in the residue con­tent of the pro­duce and takes it a notch fur­ther in mak­ing it residue-free.

For years, pes­ti­cides have played a piv­otal role in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor lead­ing to a ma­jor im­bal­ance in the eco-sys­tem. The use of toxic chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers has had a very neg­a­tive im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment and has caused po­ten­tial dam­age to agri­cul­ture pro­duce as well as ad­versely af­fected the health of masses con­sum­ing them. The ma­jor dis­ad­van­tage as­so­ci­ated with the use of fer­til­iz­ers is the change in the soil health, lead­ing to de­ple­tion of the nu­tri­tional value of the prod­uct and thus cre­at­ing a haz­ardous im­pact on the con­sumers of the prod­uct. It should also be noted that the use of fer­til­iz­ers not only af­fects the peo­ple con­sum­ing the pro­duce but also the peo­ple deal­ing with the same, hence mak­ing it es­sen­tial to em­pha­size that fer­til­iz­ers that are non-resid­ual in na­ture should only be used. This, in turn, will in­crease the health ben­e­fits, fresh­ness and longevity of the pro­duce. The time is now ap­pro­pri­ate to en­cour­age the use of or­ganic fer­til­iz­ers like ma­nure, green ma­nure, com­post, etc.

In or­der to wel­come this change, it is es­sen­tial to adopt the prac­tice of residue-free farm­ing un­der which the food pro­duced is pure, fresh, healthy and nu­tri­tious. As pointed out ear­lier, residue-free pro­duce is grown in an eco-friendly way and with­out the use of any haz­ardous chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers, which of­fers a host of health ben­e­fits to the end con­sumer.

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