IFOAM – Organics International supports Kolkata in Eastern India to go Organic
The first of its kind Organic Market Place in Eastern India was held last weekend (13-14 Jan 2018) in Kolkata, India. It was inaugurated by Jennifer Chang, Vice President of IFOAM – Organic International who pointed out the importance of such events (to assure demand and supply can increase equally). Farmers, cooperatives, consumers and food lovers came together to meet, discuss and learn from each other. There were more than 300 organic products on display and direct interaction with farmers was very lively. The Organic Market has shown the great diversity of organic products ranging from traditional rice and millet varieties, date palm jaggery to hand-made hats, jute bags and indigenous cotton scarfs and clothing that meets a growing demand in India. "The 100% women-led cooperative Sundarini was particularly impressive with their powerful women who decided to convert fully into organic in the Sundarbans, the worlds largest Mangrove forest", said Barbara Zilly, Head of Capacity Delevopment. She had given a speech about organic lifestyle for a better health and highlighted the important linkage between a sustainable organic food production and a responsible consumption of healthy diets.
At the inauguration, Sabyasachi Roy moderated a panel discussion on the topic "working towards an impactful organic world" with Jennifer Chang, Barbara Zilly and Arup Rakshit of Mahatma Gandhi Gramodyog Sewa Sansthan (NGO), Kolkata wherein the audience was informed about the role of IFOAM - Organics International and the status of organics and its future was discussed. The panel also discussed the role of local government, private industry and civil society in development of organics, particularly in Kolkata and Eastern India. The story of the Timbaktu Collective presented by IFOAM - Organics International World Board member, Mr C.K. Ganguly, generated much interest as the achievements of the Timbaktu Collective ranged from organizing women into successful cooperatives, farmers into producer companies, ecological conservation and regeneration of forests as well as the successful soap-making initiative.
Anshuman Das (Welthungerhilfe) anchored the award ceremony in which selected organic farmers, organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations participating in the Organic Market from across India were appreciated and given certificates for their excellence and contribution in strengthening the organic movement. One special attraction of the Organic Market was the variety of organic food & culinary delights served by the Vedic Village Resort and the master chefs who came from across India as this was specially curated by Salmoli Mukherji. More than 100 farmers and representatives of producer organizations and more than 2500 consumers/people visited the Market in the 2 days. The vision for the Organic Market Place of Kolkata is to grow into a festival celebrating the values of organic and sustainable farming and the local traditions and innovations of the farmers and the community, building bridges between rural and urban areas, with the farmers and the consumers for the celebration of true and healthy living.