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How buying Organic Vegetables Online can help farmers, and save the environment

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Online buying is superfluous, especially in the case of packaging and transportation. It costs the customer and environment dearly. But now you can help the environment, save some money and help the farmers along the way by buying organic vegetables online with us.

Let’s start with a story

Hello, I am Jasdev and I started OrganicoHarvest. I live in Gurgaon, so we’ll tell you about the organic scene of Gurgaon. Being one of the top-tier cities in Delhi NCR, one will think it will be easier for one to find Organic vegetables and fruits in Gurgaon. But that’s not the case. Some 10-odd organic stores also sell organic fruits and vegetables in addition to groceries. But they loot their customers in the name of organic and I don’t blame them.

It is a common perception that it has to be expensive to be 100% organic. As a self-fulfilling prophecy, it becomes expensive because of the absence of an efficient supply chain. First, there are very few organic farmers and to make organic farming viable they have to travel to their nearest city, spend time and money on transportation, and sell directly to the consumers. So they grow, market, and sell on their own.

What if they could focus on growing and we could help them sell their produce to their consumers minus traveling to a city, wasting their time in selling, etc? That’s where OrganicoHarvest comes into the picture. After connecting with thousands of farmers and understanding their real problem in transitioning to organic farming. We have concluded that most farmers are willing to transition only if one can help them in selling their produce. We, at OrganicoHarvest, provide farmers training to turn organic farming and by building a supply chain without all these inefficiencies, organic produce doesn’t have to be that expensive.

So OrganicoHarvest was started to solve two problems:

  • Help farmers transition to organic farming by helping them sell their produce directly to the consumers without the headache of marketing, selling, transportation, etc.
  • Second, helping the consumers with affordable and accessible organic products especially organic vegetables and fruits.

But solving the environmental problem just came naturally to us. So we are solving 3 problems at OrganicoHarvest by simply delivering organic vegetables and fruits to directly our customers.

So this was our short story, why we started OrganicoHarvest, and how we are solving these problems. Now let’s get into the details about why and how we are solving 3 pronged problems with one service and how can you too take part in it.

Customer’s Problem

Organic fruits and vegetables are expensive! Sometimes the organic vegetable prices are 3-4 times (300%-400%) than the conventional fruits or vegetables. 2 times the price is baseline i.e. you can always expect that organic vegetables or fruits will be 200% more expensive than their non-organic counterparts.

As a consumer of organic produce, I have faced the problem firsthand. Being from a farming community, I just knew from the top of my head that organic produce is not expensive to produce (though it requires more manual labor). It requires less input than you have to buy from the market. Still, I had to pay 3-4 times more than I used to pay for non-organic stuff. The math didn’t quite add up.

Then there is another problem of availability. I am a regular visitor to Gurgaon Organic Farmers Market (GOFM). But visiting it just to buy organic fruits and vegetables sometimes feels tedious. Don’t get me wrong here, it is a fulfilling experience to visit GOFM but it is a tedious one too. So accessibility remains a problem.

The other problem is trust, surety, and traceability. Though the farms have organic certificates (which also contribute to expensiveness), that’s about it when it comes to the surety of being 100% organic when you buy at other places.

Now let’s see how OrganicoHarvest is solving these problems.

100% Organic: Certified & Confirmed at multiple stages

Organic certification and non-GMO are already taken care of. We take several steps further when it comes to confirmation of Organic produce.

  • We do farm-level testing with the help of IoT sensors that collect data 24×7 and feed directly to our servers in addition to the organic certification obtained from a third party.
  • Every batch is tested before accepting any supply from farmers with the help of our on-site laboratory.
  • Traceability throughout the journey.

Most of the farmers who work with us are part of PGS (Participatory Guarantee Scheme) and then our relationship on top of that acts as an extra layer of surety. Under the PGS scheme, several f farmers take part. If even one of them is found to use inorganic fertilizer, the whole group is disqualified.

We do not leave things to guess which is why we always do batch testing in which a random sample is taken from the farmer’s produce and tested in our lab. After passing the test, it is packed and labeled and then shipped to our customers in sealed packs. So there is a 100% organic guarantee from sowing to delivery.

Pocket Friendly

OrganicoHarvest has built the supply chain from the ground up. We have removed the bottlenecks faced by ordinary supply chains. Special emphasis has been placed on efficiency, environmental concerns, and under 12 hours of supply after harvesting.

Instead of growing ourselves, we have partnered with organic farmers all over India. Farmers supply us with their organic produce which is then graded, tested, packed, and delivered by us.

By applying economies of scale minus processing, our target is to make organic vegetables and fruits available to everyone with only a 20-30% premium over conventional non-organic produce. This will not only translate to improved accessibility and affordability but will also encourage more and more farmers to turn to organic farming. Thereby improving access and affordability even further.

Highly Nutritious

This is the part where I don’t need to convince you. Most studies show that organic produce is more nutritious than non-organic produce. Non-organic produce is only heavy in sugar and carbohydrates. It lacks other important nutrients. On the other hand, organic produce is highly nutritious containing most nutrients in natural proportions due to its natural origin.

The main reason lies in natural ripening and efficient transportation. As there are no chemicals used either in production or processing coupled with our highly efficient supply chain, we are able to deliver high-quality, organic produce mostly within 12 hours of harvesting. This helps in saving a lot of food that might otherwise be wasted. At the same time, our consumers can enjoy nutritious, tasty, and naturally grown and unprocessed (no artificial ripening) food.

Farmer’s Problem

Then there is a problem of farmers not being able to sell their organic produce at all. Over the years, we have met farmers who are willing to turn to organic farming but couldn’t because they are not assured of a market where they will be able to sell their organic produce.

We connected with many farmers in the past to understand their problems, worked with them, and provided them with training to transition to organic farming. But the main problem that we kept on hearing about was how will they be able to sell their produce.

Currently, some 18% of India’s GDP ($550 Billion) comes from agriculture. Still, the condition of our farmers is deteriorating by the day. We don’t treat “helping farmers” as a gimmick at OrganicoHarvest, instead, we started with the mission of bridging the gap between rural India and urban India so that farmers can earn a respectable living from farming itself.

Smiling Farmers

OrganicoHarvest helps organic and natural farmers reach consumers directly. This increases the income for farmers by up to as much as 5 times. I know this may be tough to digest, but you’ll be astonished to know that only about 10-20% of it reaches the farmers. With OrganicoHarvest, we share up to 70% of the price.

In addition to decreasing input, organic farming increases the price at which a farmer can sell his/her harvest. We help the farmers reach consumers directly which increases their profit manyfold.

Organic farming Training

We don’t just help organic farmers reach consumers directly. But also help conventional farmers in making a transition to organic farming by providing training and market under one roof.

In addition to training, we handhold them so that any problems they face can be resolved along the way. We connect them to other organic farmers in the area and act as their R&D and knowledge partners.

Environmental Problem

In this day and age of instant delivery, Amazon and Flipkart, customers expect everything to be delivered instantly. To ship everything with the convenience of non-perishable, perishable items like vegetables and fruits are harvested even when they are unripe, shipped to warehouses near demand, and then gassed (primarily ethylene gas) to ripe it artificially and then shipped to the customer.

This creates the following problems:

  1. The natural taste and aroma are lost.
  2. The vegetable or fruit becomes only a source of carbohydrates (called dead weight) because nutrients aren’t developed till ripening which is avoided in most cases.
  3. The chemical ripening process brings chemicals into the food chain which are detrimental to the environment.

To deliver something within hours, things have to be available at the store. Organic vegetables that mean they have to be harvested and delivered well in time to be available all the time. But the organic stores don’t have any way of knowing how much and when to harvest or get it delivered to the store in time.

Food has 3 environmentally impacting steps.

  • Production of food
  • Processing of food
  • Transportation of food

But at OrganicoHarvest, we are trying to minimize its impact in all the 3 stages by

  • Producing food organically not just decreases but has the potential of reversing its environmental impact. We are helping more and more farmers turn to organic farming which decreases their input costs and increases soil carbon (an indirect form of carbon capture).
  • Using Zero chemicals in processing (No artificial ripening) is not just good for your health but for the environment as well.
  • Most, if not all, of the food that reaches you through OrganicoHarvest, is locally sourced. Local sourcing removes the need to harvest unripened vegetables or fruits and hence removes the need for artificial ripening. Giving you a real and natural taste.

These are some of the ways we are helping the planet and you can be a part of our journey to a healthy future and lower your carbon footprint as well.

Less Green House Emission

Agriculture is one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. But the main reason is conventional (read chemical) methods of production. Just 150 years ago, the average carbon content of the soil which used to be somewhere between 12-18% (organic soil) decreased to 0.5-3% (conventional soil) in most parts of the world. So just imagine the potential of carbon capture of organic farming (soil) Vs conventional farming (soil).

An article here shows that 11% of total gases emitted are by agriculture only. But organic farming not only decreases emission but also have the potential for carbon capture. So more organic farming is better for the world.

OrganicoHarvest Solution

OrganicoHarvest is not VC funded. So we don’t have that kind of money to burn in delivering things superfast and even if we’d had VC money, we wouldn’t have pursued instant delivery because it is inefficient, puts the burden on every part of the supply chain be it man or machine, messes with the quality of food delivered. We harvest food and deliver food only within hours by knowing the demand in advance.

So help us in bringing the revolution where a customer can get healthy organic vegetables & fruits at an affordable price (only 20-50%) higher than non-organic delivered directly to their home. Whenever you subscribe to one of our organic vegetable boxes, you are not just helping more and more farmers to transition to organic but also helping the environment by decreasing food waste and saving on packaging material.

Economical Transportation

In this day and age transportation, means have developed immensely. But we humans tend to take things for granted. So it is normal for food to travel thousands of miles before reaching the end consumer. For example, it is now normal to buy lemons from Chennai (about the Delhi market), coriander from Gwalior, and potatoes from Maharashtra.

On average, even in the case of the unorganized sector (leaving apart organized retail), vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, okra) travel 160-220km on average, while onions travel 410km and potatoes a whopping 1530km. (Source: Here)

Long-distance transportation (called Food Miles) not only decreases the nutritional content (if it has any) but also contributes a lot to food wastage. Everyone is aware of the fact that most ripening is done artificially because there are many supply-chain challenges in shipping ripe harvest. So most farmers harvest unripe produce and ship it. Then when it reaches its destination, ethylene is used to help it ripe artificially (The transparent glue-type material on papaya is ethylene).

OrganicoHarvest has found a solution to this. We source food only from local farmers. Most of our food (80%) is sourced from a 150km radius while some fruit does travel higher distances (rest assured we try to minimize it). The benefit is that we do NOT use any artificial ripening agent (hence good for your health) and deliver you highly nutritious food at nearly the same prices as non-organic food (prices are only 20-30% higher compared to 300% from others).

Eco-friendly Packaging

We, at OrganicoHarvest, don’t just focus on providing you with more sustainable food. But we take sustainability a step further. You might remember from your school days that we all are taught about the four R’s i.e. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. But we took the lesson quite literally.

That’s why we follow the R’s in that very priority. We try to remove as much plastic from our supply chain as we can (this is Refuse). Even if we have to use, we use only a bare minimum of packaging ( this is Reduce). We try to reuse as much packaging as we can because we know that even if we recycle, a lot of energy and resources are used. and finally, if we have to, then we recycle as much as we can.

Launching OrganicoHarvest

So we have been working towards solving this problem once and for all. We have been working on these problems in one form or the other since 2016 which culminated in OrganicoHarvest. At OrganicoHarvest, we understand the agriculture from inside and out. This invaluable experience has been gained over the years of working closely with farmers.

We are launching a service where we source directly from the farmers and deliver locally produced organic fruits and vegetables to the doorsteps of our customers. Currently, we are delivering in Gurgaon, Noida, Delhi, Ghaziabad, and Faridabad. We’ll start delivering shortly in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Surat, and Vadodara.

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