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Organic food and people below the poverty line

Recently, I came across an interesting article on CNN that talks about the emergence (or should I say re-emergence) of organic farms in India. While this is a welcome change, a couple of things that were alarming were the statements about the price and the yield.

The statement that stood out - “At harvest time, his yield is lower, but the selling price is higher.
The yields (in the case of organic wheat) will be lower; however, the higher price it fetches in the market would make up for the loss in the yield. The price of organic wheat, the farmers explain, is thrice that of conventional wheat.

This begs the question - If the yields are lower can the entire population, dependent on wheat from that region, be fed? Further, the high prices mean that a majority of people living below the poverty line will not be able to afford it. Add to it the fact that much of it will be exported because of the attractive prices in the international market and it paints a rather grim picture. Will organic food be relegated to the realm of the rich and those who can afford it? Would this mean healthy food for the rich and none for the poor? Lower yields, in the light of a burgeoning population, could lead to disastrous consequences.

However, there are scientific studies that prove that organic farming tends to increase yields when the right techniques are used. Investment in agricultural research is crucial. We should make use of existing techniques and invest in further research so that organic food becomes more affordable and accessible to all. Organic farming will, no doubt, improve the lives of the farmers and alleviate the hazards of consuming foods laden with chemicals and pesticides. Only, we need to ensure that the right steps are taken to guarantee that this well intentioned change does not serve to our detriment.


Raj said...

I completely agree with you regarding the prices of the organic food. I have made several attempts to switch to organic foods but could not sustain due to high prices. Organic Milk is twice as expensive as regular milk. I think the government needs to invest more in Organic farming and provide incentives to both customers and vendors of the same. The other question that arises is what is the role of the big food giants towards this initiative, will McDonald's sit back and watch growth in the Organic Industry and feed their Chicken's with vegetables rather than cheap corn?

I feel the food giants must be bought into this initiative and this will help improve the technology and ride the price down. This is how the price of corn has become dirt cheap as it is used in almost every food product we eat....End the corn and this is coming from Iowa ;)

Michelle said...

Excellent post. Organic foods are so much better, but they tend to cost so much more. Even here in the US it's not very easy to purchase organic foods all the time. My family still has to sacrifice organic food items for regular, commercial items because it simply isn't always affordable for us. It just isn't fair that people have to sacrifice their health because of their wallets. Thanks. Peace. :)

xpercept said...

The big players definitely need to be bought into this. Further, some sort of regulation is definitely necessary for if both demand and price are high the last thing we need is the suppliers regulating/controlling the availability in a way to suit themselves best.

@Michelle - right on the point - its definitely not fair that people will have to sacrifice their health because of their wallets...

Raj said...

Where is the next article ????

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