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Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru October 12 , 2018
Karnataka is now witnessing promising prospects with next gen smart foods: organics and millets. The two are set to bolster food processing and increased cultivation giving the much-needed impetus to the farming community.

In order to give a fillip to organic foods and millets, the state’s department of agriculture is going to conduct the International Organics and Millets Trade Fair 2019 from January 18 to 20, 2019, in Bengaluru.

According to Karnataka agriculture minister N H Shivashankara Reddy, the flagship event around the theme: K-Source, celebrates Karnataka as the source for Next Gen Smart Foods.

“We want to position Karnataka as the organics and millets capital of India. The state was first to unveil an Organic Policy in 2004 which was revised in 2017. It is ranked fifth in India in terms of area and production under fully organic certification,” he said. 

“Favourable climate and a diverse production base offer immense opportunities here. Our farmers have combined indigenous and innovative methods to pioneer the organics and millet agriculture movement. Organic agriculture sector here is gaining momentum with markets experiencing double-digit growth year-on-year,” the minister said.

“Millets have emerged as the new nutri-cereal. We hope that more people turn to organics and millets as part of their daily food intake and take advantage of its health benefits,” he added.

The fair will address all aspects of the value chain, from farm to shelf and provide a launch pad to tap the next generation of markets and consumers, according to Reddy.

The event, mainly for farmers, buyers, sellers and exporters of organic produce and millets, will have the participation of over 250 exhibitors occupying an exhibition space of 10,000 sq m including stalls from other states, countries, farmer producer organisations (FPOs) and several farmer federations from Karnataka. International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture (ICCOA) will be the knowledge partner for the event.

Road shows will be held abroad to rope in foreign delegations, buyers, food processers and bloggers. In India, road shows are being held in Coimbatore, Pune and New Delhi to create awareness and encourage participation.

According to Karnataka department of agriculture principal secretary Maheshwar Rao the previous edition recorded around one lakh visitors. These included farmers, students, scientists, businessmen and general public. More than 225 B2B and F2B meetings were held and the potential orders generated amounted to Rs 107 crore with MoUs worth 13,218 metric tonne of organic and millet products signed. Long term commitments for the next three years are estimated at Rs 340 crore. Six delegations represented from the US, Japan, South Korea, China and Germany. Business of around Rs 4.5 crore was generated across various counters during the three days of the fair.

Organic farmers associations formed under the promotional programmes of Karnataka are categorised into 15 regional organic federations through which related processing and marketing activities are being taken up.

According to Manoj Kumar Menon, executive director, ICCOA, there is big potential for farmers’ revenue to expand if they are connected through proper market structure. This trade fair is organised to serve the same objective and make Karnataka an organic and millets hub.

Karnataka under fully certified organic cultivation registered a steady growth from 2,500 hectare to one lakh hectare. As per APEDA, in 2017-2018 total value of organic products exported from Karnataka was Rs 186 crore. The ICCOA estimates total value of organic production as Rs 8,000 crore. 

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