Organised annually by Union Ministry for Women and Child Development, the 5th edition of Women Of India National Organic Festival was held from 26th October, 2018 to 4th November, 2018. The 10-day festival which is organised to boost women entrepreneurs and farmers in the organic field from different parts of India was held at Indira Gandhi National Centre For Arts (IGNCA) in the capital this year.
The fair brought producers and manufacturers from 28 Indian states under one roof, showcasing over 1200 products and food grains. The fair welcomed over 500 women from Leh to Kanyakumari and from Kohima to Kutch. The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development also provided travel and accommodation to the participants of the festival keeping in mind the financial conditions that they come from. This was a major reason behind such a huge participation of women and farmers at the festival. The products showcased by them included varieties of rice, several varieties of millets, organic ice creams, ready-to-eat meals and snacks, oils, honey, tea, coffee, skin care, aromatherapy products, solar products, kitchen composers, organic seeds, organic cotton fabrics, among other bioproducts.
For the first time, ‘The Vegan Project’ and Food Court with cooked-on-site delicacies were also available at the festival.
India is home to 30 per cent of the total organic producers in the world, but accounts for just 2.59 per cent (1.5 million hectares) of the total organic cultivation area of 57.8 million hectares, according to the World of Organic Agriculture 2018 report.
India has been a part of the organic farming revolution with over 160 million hectares of cultivable land. Better quality of produce fetches enhanced prices and adds approximately 20% to the incomes of related farmers. Overall, the income and savings of a farmer using exclusively organic methods in agriculture increases by over 50% since there is no investment in costly chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and preservatives. Yet, even though India has the largest number of Organic farmers, most of them are struggling. The cost of organic farming is high and the policy and reforms for farmers are poor, according to ASSOCHAM and Ernst & Young.
In Rajasthan, farmers are sticking to chemical farming despite being aware of its ill effects on both the crop and the soil because of the low productivity and return from organic farming.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development inaugurated the exhibition & said, “Organic options encourage consumers to adopt a healthier lifestyle while helping to protect the planet and its eroding natural resources. The Women of India Organic Festival highlights the health and environmental advantages of organic goods, provides a platform for women engaged in this field and encourages the development of sustainable and easily accessible sales outlets for women producers from the remotest corners of India. The WOI festival has given a successful platform to empower women farmers and entrepreneurs in a festive and fruitful manner for the past four years. It is a matter of great satisfaction for me that the Ministry’s efforts ultimately boost these illustrious rural women’s local communities and economies by creating jobs and keeping farmers thriving in addition to spreading awareness about the benefits of organic products.”
Therefore, the festival was not only held to promote the women and farmers engaged in organic farming, but also to encourage others to follow suit and encourage the organic farming culture. The festival had dual benefits, while promoting organic farming the aim was also to promote a healthier lifestyle for the people in the cities. The change in venue to the capital was also made primarily to increase reach and accessibility. The entry for the event was kept free of cost along with free parking to ensure maximum number of visitors. This year, the total sales by the women farmers and entrepreneurs who came from 26 states, were a record of over Rs. 2.75 crore, up from Rs. 1.84 crore of the last edition.