‘Farmers could earn more through organic farming’ | Sunday Observer

‘Farmers could earn more through organic farming’

The head table at the media briefing. Chairman, Bio Foods (Pvt) Ltd., Dr. Sarath Ranaweera (second from left) makes a point. Pic: Chaminda Niroshana
The head table at the media briefing. Chairman, Bio Foods (Pvt) Ltd., Dr. Sarath Ranaweera (second from left) makes a point. Pic: Chaminda Niroshana

The world demand for organic food is increasing and Sri Lanka needs to be geared to increase the quantity of organic food items. As a country rich in natural resources, we could gain the competitive edge in the international market, Chairman, Bio Foods (Pvt) Ltd., Dr. Sarath Ranaweera said.

“Local farmers face the serious issue of not having an assured farm gate price for their produce. However, organic products have a premium price and they could also fetch a good price in niche markets,” he said.

Changing farming methods from conventional to organic, gives the farmer a higher income. It is also a healthier way of eating and helps preserve the environment. The government while encouraging organic farming, should introduce a mechanism to ensure maximum farm gate price to the farmers, he said.

It is estimated that over 10,000 farmer families live on the income of organic farming. It is expected that organic food and beverage marketing size to be worth US $ 320.5 billion by 2025.

“This market size has presented great opportunities for Sri Lanka. However, it will be necessary to create awareness regarding the organic farming and bio certification which will enable the exporters to capture the global market. The demand for organic food will continue to increase as In today’s context, there is special emphasis on healthy living,” he said.

The farmers could earn an additional value of 30 to 50 percent more for their produce by converting from conventional methods to organic methods of farming.

Bio Foods (Pvt) Ltd., which celebrated 25 years of operations in Sri Lanka exports its products mainly to the European market. The company’s product range of 42 items includes tea, spices and coconut products.

“We export 63 percent of value added organic products to the European market. We are concern that Sri Lankan should have access to healthier foods and also supply to the local market as well. We work towards changing the culture of agrochemical ridden conventional farming to organic farming,” Dr. Ranaweera said.

“This was combined with a fair trade model of treating farmers, where no matter the season, their cost of production was covered and they were always paid an additional premium over the market-price to help them maintain a decent quality of life,” he said.

The company is a leading entity in this sector of modern sustainable agriculture and the main differentiator is that its business model spans from directly training and certifying underprivileged farmer groups in many parts of Sri Lanka, to their own certified processing plants to packing units.

The company manages the entire process from the farmer level to the final value added product in a sustainable manner.