ONganic - Seed to Shelf Model to a More Sustainable Future

ONganic Food

1. No Poverty 3. Good Health and Well-Being 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

Overview

One and largest challenge faced by small organic farmers in rural India is finding a reliable market. With a strong passion and commitment to make a difference, Ekta JaJu founded ONganic, the innovation that solves the challenge, in November 2015. The company aims to improve farmers’ welfare, promote health and wellness of consumers and contribute to a sustainable planet, by creating a holistic and integrated platform for farmers to access organic farming methods, weather information and premium market.

Author

Wan Ju Tseng

Wan Ju Tseng

School

TIAS School for Business and Society

TIAS School for Business and Society

Professor

Mirjam Minderman

Mirjam Minderman

Innovation

ONganic is an award-winning, and NPOP/EU/USDA certified organic social enterprise based in East India. The enterprise maintains strict measures for quality control across the value chain and works side by side with small organic certified grower groups through a seed to shelf model.

In the past, farmers relied solely on their own experiences and monsoons to determine what to grow and how to grow, resulting in unstable income due to crop failure at the time of droughts and ignorance to market demand. To address this problem, ONganic serve as a platform to provide organic farming methods, weather and market demand information, as well as market entry to the organic food sector, which helps farmers to improve soil quality, increase productivity and nutritional values and gain direct access to premium markets.

For technical support, ONganic partners with agriculture experts to examine the soil in different areas, so to determine the best kinds of crops to farm in a particular area to maximize productivity for the farmers. The team control the quality through constant training and guidance in organic cultivation, input preparation, seed saving, and good post-harvest practices.

For financial support, under this model, the associated farmers receive seeds and organic fertilizers as credit, without any interest, and pay when the crops are purchased. Through contract farming, ONganic safeguarded associated farmers from uncertainties of market demand. ONganic procures their produce at a pre-determined price irrespective of the market price through signing agreements with product brands based on fair estimation on guaranteed order, ensuring farmers of informed farming and stable income.

For marketing support, ONganic actively participates in different national and international trade fairs. The team also consistently expands its market through online platforms and also retail channels. With comprehensive support to farmers, this seed to shelf model has tremendously transformed the agricultural landscape of rural India.

ONganic -  Seed to Shelf Model to a More Sustainable Future

Inspiration

The inspiration of ONganic came from the founder, Ekta Jaju, while she worked in a non-profit organization. During her time in serving the non-profit agricultural organization in East India, she saw the problems farmers faced in finding a reliable market to sell organic produce at a fair price. Lack of knowledge of market demand and market access, many of the growers are forced to look for alternative income. Realizing farmers’ difficulty, Ekta alighted upon the idea of ONganic — a platform bridging the gap between farmers and organic food market, thereby incentivizing transitions into organic farming.

With her knowledge of the market demand for organic food and the techniques of organic farming released by the Indian government, Ekta created a platform where farmers can gain access to the necessary information to maximize productivity and nutritional value of the crops and where farmers can sell their produce to premium markets to increase profitability. With its integrity, accountability and transparency, ONganic earned farmers’ faith and trust, successfully expanding the community from only six farmers to now more than 3000 farmers participated in the platform. “The mission of my organization is to impact 10,000 farmer by 2025, by converting them to organic farming and connecting them with sustainable, reliable, premium markets.” said Ekta Jaju, ONganic Founder.

Overall impact

ONganic plays its role as a powerful and supportive teammate of integrity and accountability for smallholders. The team introduces all the useful resources and agriculture knowledge to the farmers to reduce their cost, alleviate their financial burden, and protect them from uncertainty. The short-term effect is the demonstration of how technology and agriculture could be combined to solve farmers’ problems. The long-term impact is the inspiration of how an innovation direly impacts society to a sustainable future.

Economic:

• Reducing the cost and increasing the productivity: With training programs, automation and technology, ONganic has assisted more than 3000 farmers in lowering their cost of cultivation and increasing the yield.

• Financial support: Farmers who partnered with ONganic receive seeds and organic inputs as interest-free credit, which is paid off when the produce is procured.

• Elimination of market uncertainty: With contract farming, small farmers secures the crops from the market price fluctuation at a pre-determined price promised by ONganic.

• Increasing market access: ONganic increase farmers’ access to premium markets and market information, enabling smallholders to make an informed decision on which crops to grow. The team also helps to expand the channels of its organic products through various national and international trade fairs.

Environmental:

• Combatting the effects of global warming: Organic agriculture help mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming by restricting the use of synthetic fertilizers and absorbing carbon dioxide from the air.

• Improving soil quality: Without exposure to harmful chemicals, organic farming revives soil fertility.

• Supports water health: ONganic keeps water supply away from toxic and persistent chemical pollution.

• Promoting biodiversity: Toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers used in conventional agriculture contaminate air, water, soil, and living things. With organic farming practices, ONganic protects biodiversity, while productivity is guaranteed.

Social:

• Health promotion: ONganic pioneers to diversify its product range with more than 50 certified organic products, which serve as an aromatic, a healthier and more nutritious alternative to regular staples.

• Quality Food: With its seed to shelf model, ONganic provides transparency and traceability across the value chain – farming, processing, research and development, domestic sales, and exports. ONganic ensures its high quality and food security not only through its end products but also the process and method of production and transport.

• Innovation platform: One of the unique characteristics of ONganic is its mutual and continuous learning spirit. The constant communication between ONganic and farmers keep innovating the company. The farmers are encouraged to discuss their problems with ONganic, and ONganic is dedicated to connect the farmers with government sectors and help them solve the issues through consistently training the farmers with the best organic practices.

Business benefit

ONganic’s sustainability and scalability have been proved to create a positive impact. With better access to the premium market, ONganic increases farmers’ profit to 2 - 3 times more than before. Currently, ONganic has trained and certified more than 3000 farmers in the best organic farming practice. With stable growth, a well-organized plan and constant innovation, ONganic is expanding its market in Europe, especially in the Netherlands and Germany. ONganic remains innovative and passionate to empower more small farmers the opportunity to promote their products in a more profitable market through its platform.

Social and environmental benefit

ONganic takes action to power a wave of change for small farmers in India. Their passion for organic farming energizes them to explore more possibilities in the market, create differentiation for their products and develop more partnerships.

“Most importantly, what drives me to be a part of this movement is my love of the environment.” Using indigenous varieties of seeds which are climate resilient with chemical free practice of fertilizer, organic farming creates positive ecosystem in rural India. “By organic farming, we have grown some resilient varieties which are flood tolerant. These varieties are ideal for the area where we work because we have very high rainfall.” This achievement makes Ekta’s belief in organic farming stronger day by day.

The enterprise enables small farmers to have a more profitable and stable business. Their diversified products with high nutritional value improve the health and wellness of consumers. “So overall the work that we do helps us build sustainable, resilient communities in rural India, and that is something that drives me each day to do what I do.” Their determination to create awareness of organic agriculture contributes to a sustainable planet in the long term.

Interview

Ekta Jaju, Founder & CEO

Keep this story going! Share below!

ONganic Food

ONganic Food

Kolkata, West Bengal, IN

Business Website: https://onganic.in

Year Founded: 2015

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

One and largest challenge faced by small organic farmers in rural India is finding a reliable market. With a strong passion and commitment to make a difference, Ekta JaJu founded ONganic, the innovation that solves the challenge, in November 2015. The company aims to improve farmers’ welfare, promote health and wellness of consumers and contribute to a sustainable planet, by creating a holistic and integrated platform for farmers to access organic farming methods, weather information and premium market.