India embraces organics

India's organic produce is set to quadruple by 2012 from its existing level of 528,000 hectares as increasingly wealthy consumers seek more locally-produced organics in their diet, according to the Indian publication, Business Standard. The Bangalore-based International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture (ICCOA) said Indian organic farming was growing at 40 per cent annually.

"The major reason for the growth in organic farming is increased awareness among consumers in the country," said Manoj Kumar Menon, ICCOA executive director. "Till now organic food was mainly exported. But over the last couple of years, the domestic market has started growing. Many state governments have woken up to the importance of organic farming and have announced several incentives for farmers to go organic."

Most of India's organic imports are sourced from Japan, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. The growing interest in organics from both a supply and demand perspective was demonstrated at the third annual "India Organic" trade fair, held in late 2007. It saw a record attendance of 15,000 business visitors and policy makers and included 184 exhibitor companies from 12 countries as well as 25 Indian state governments.

The conference organiser said Sri Lankan government representatives had been impressed enough with the organic progress being made in India to ask the ICCOA to develop a strategy for similar progress in Sri Lanka.

In other organic news, Texas-based Whole Foods Market has announced it will open a second store in London, probably in the business district of Canary Wharf, in London's east end. The store is expected to open in the second half of 2008. Whole Foods other store is in Kensington, a wealthy part of inner west London and has reported steady, if not spectacular sales since it opened its doors in June 2007.

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