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Organic Farms Provide a Clue for India's Struggling Farms

althy food and healthy growth --

Indian organic farmers can look abroad too, an export promoter said.

'Organic exports are growing by 100 percent a year,' said S. Dave, of the country's agricultural export council APEDA.

'Many people are still going in for traditional farming, which is mostly organic,' he said, explaining that small farmers in states where pesticide use is not widespread could easily stay green.

Four million hectares (9.8 million acres) of land are now devoted to certified organic farming for export, Dave said, including of mangoes, spices and nuts.

The council has developed standards for organic exports, and mandatory domestic standards are in the works. This will make it easier and cheaper for farmers to get the kind of accreditation that is recognised abroad.

But for now, the impetus for organic agriculture is coming not from small farmers in remote areas far from markets, but from city-based businesses and activists.

In New Delhi, the Navdanya outlets started by environmentalist Vandana Shiva source organic oils and lentils from small farmers.

And one of the country's best known brands, FabIndia, which began four decades ago selling clothes that drew on craft traditions, has branched into organic spices, teas and granola.


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