Agritech Samvaad (Dialogue) on Organic Agriculture & Retailing

How do we redesign the Organic Agriculture & Retailing Ecosystem with the farmer (and not consumer) at the centre?

  
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Dear Readers,

Welcome to the second podcast episode of Agribusiness Matters.

Earlier in Sep’20,I did my first podcast episode on Plantix’s agritech strategy. 

This is a 120-min long recording of the fourth edition of the Agritech Samvaad (Dialogue) on Organic Agriculture and Retailing. Special thanks to Saborni who helped with the logistics of the recording.

Agritech Samvaad is an ongoing dialogue series my dear mentor friend Jagadeesh Sunkad and I are hosting in Clubhouse to bridge the yawning chasm between Indian Agriculture and Indian Agritech (Link to my TEDx Talk where I provide an introduction to the divergences and convergences between the two).

Mind you, both share different ontologies, speak two different languages. The former speaks in a native tongue, while the latter speaks in English. Beyond two different world-views, two different ontologies, is it possible to have a dialogue?

And in order to create an inclusive space of dialogue, we and the panelists have switched once or twice between Hindi and English, although the bulk of the conversation is in English.

We had three eminent panelists. 1) Narasimha Nakshatri 2) Vishala Padmanabhan, Consultant Executive Director, PGS Organic Council 3) Shefalika Sharma, CEO, Froots

We spoke about

  • The role of Markets and Government in designing the Organic Agriculture and Retail Ecosystem

  • Why organic retailing is thriving more on informal distribution channels than formal distribution channels?

  • How does one understand the complex role of certification in organic retail? What is the difference between a certificate and a guarantee?

    I earlier addressed the promises and perils of traceability certification in the palm oil ecosystem here
  • What is the role of FPOs in organic retail? How are they faring currently? Narasimha gave some fascinating data points from a recent study and also shared few interesting anecdotes on the challenges in organic distribution.

  • What is the role of hydroponics, aeroponics in this ecosystem? Can they coexist with organic retail? Shefalika shared some interesting insights from her business and Jagadeesh made some insightful points drawing from his rich aeroponics experience.

Earlier in the conversation, to set the tone for the dialogue, I shared a myth from Indian History to set the context between conventional agriculture and organic agriculture. Since I narrated the parable in a smattering of Hindi and English, here is the parable for those who may not be fluent in Hindi, but want to follow the conversation.

Legend goes that Alexander once met an Indian Monk (Gymnosophist, as the Greeks called them) while traveling towards the Indian subcontinent.

Detail from mosaic showing Battle between Alexander the Great and Persian king Darius. From the House of the Faun / Casa del Fauno in Pompeii. Museo Archeologico Nazionale. Naples.

"What are you doing?" asked Alexander.

"Doing Nothing".

"What are you doing?", asked the monk.

"Conquering the World"

Both smirked at each other, each dismissing each other's stupidity.

If you want to understand what this allegorical tale tells us about organic agriculture, do check out the fascinating podcast episode.

This is an experiment in podcasting. I am yet to get the full hang of it. And so, please be kind:) Do share your suggestions and feedback. I am more than willing to do better next time.

Enjoy your weekend.

Cheers,

Venky