Marketing ZBNF/organic farm products , hype or real?

Dear Friends,

An advertising leaflet came along with today’s new paper inspired me to put on this post first thing in the morning. It was about product list and prices of organic and natural products sold by

I was wondering and surprised to see the price list. Some of the quotes for your reference.\

Wheat flour 1 Kg Rs 50
Wheat 250gram - Rs 20
Toor dal 1 kg  : Rs 140
Moong 1 kg : Rs 120
Cocount oil 1 Kg Rs 100
Chilli powder 250gm - Rs 85
Honey 250gm - Rs 125
Potato 1 Kg 30
Onion 1kg Rs 30

This is a retail outlet price list in Ahmedabad. Am sure the real farmer of this organic products never gets these prices.
I had an opportunity to interact with a ZBNF farmer in Gujarat. He was at mango festival to sell his KESAR mangoes. He sells at Rs. 80 per kg and he well documented /explained about ZBNF method and jeevamruth to produce 100% organic KESAR mangoes in his farm. Reguar KESAR mangoes sells at same event at Rs. 50 kg,  He is saying in organic farming,  production is less and size of mango is also less in comapire with chemical farming hence price has been increased.

Now catching point is that end consumer gets organic product at very very expensive. Consumer normally look low cost food intakes and spend more in life style or addictions like drinks/smoke. Whether Mango is organic or non organic if it is sweet and get Rs 30 cheaper then people goes to cheaper option only.

So the buying sector become narrow for organic products and ultimately farmer will suffer. Middle man takes most of the value addition and in long term the organic farmer may not success or sustain.

Why we can not produce ZBNF/organic products at par in price or we would say cheaper ? Are we organic producers to target only creamy customer? I do not understand the GAP . How ZBNF or organic farming modal can be successful by optimum production, minimal investment and optimum realization by selling to mass market and not to limit to premium customers/. Other wise such models may be a failure to the point of view of large section of public.

open for discussion.


Dear Mathew,
  You are right. There are many view points in this issue. But, the end result is what you have pointed at. Palekar who promotes ZBNF is also against organic. Somebody was asking me today what is the difference between organic and ZBNF (Palekar’s story appeared as sunday magazine cover story in telugu). The current organic practices still requires lot of outside inputs. Buying them seems easier than making them on-site. And the people who sensed this are selling organic manures and pesticides at high price. But if we look at ZBNF and pure fukuoka natural farming, the impetus is to use local material to improve soil condition and bio-diversity thereby giving good results in long run with low cost.

‘Organic’ has become a big business opportunity serving only the rich and sold in swanky outlets. The prices you mentioned are meaningless. Any fellow with lot of health consciousness also will first look at price label. They don’t want to empty the pockets soon.

If any organic/natural farmer wants to be true to his nature, then

  1. He must first think in terms of doing good to people by supplying healthy food. He should not think about ‘capitalizing’. The end consumer is never sure if he is really buying organic or not.
  2. He can sell the produce at same price or lower price locally. Taking to far off cities itself increases cost. If people really find the difference in taste and quality they will come back.

I am surprised to see that very few people are selling fruits grown locally in the local markets. Everything is shipped to cities. I am surprised at the high cost of produce even in small towns. Coconuts are selling at the same (or more ) price in small town compared to city. Coconut trees can be seen on every farm bund, but coconut shops are very few in the nearby town. I was discussing about ecological mud housing with one friend (who works in my office as boy), who said that palm leaves, grass, straw and everything used to build mud thatched houses is sent to paper mills!!! Even if they want to roof their house, it is very costly now!!!

Greed is taking man to unknown places.


yes, the very word organic/natural is misleading. this is another marketing hype.
it is tgrue that the so called organic/natural food products have to meet the price challneges of conventional food products. if any one is interested in growing organic/nautral food products at lesser cost/prices we can help them.


It is very simple.

During olden times bungalows, cars and other modern amenities were very few and it was expensive. Only few people could afford it. But good unadulterated food following natures principle was available abundantly and cheap.

It has become vice versa. Most people can afford modern amenities but not good food. Pay good price or cultivate your food.

Only sad part is even the organic or natural food is adulterated. for eg in kerala all cows are feed (cattle feed) and the same dung is used for organic produce, food chain is all contaminated.

Hello everybody,

If anyone attend to seminars of this new concepts, the promoters were creating hype of high value to farmer’s product.

If a farmer cultivates paddy using organic/natural farming concept, it will cost him less compared to chemical farming and hence he can sell his product at less/equal to product of chemical farming. Its shameful on the greedy ZBNF/Natural farming GURU"Ji"s  as they were misleading the farmers to sell at higher prices.

For example, When CELLPHONE services were introduced in INDIA, every service provider priced their services high. The scenario was changed by the new service providers  who depend on the Celltower sites of already established Airtel,IDEA etc. What did these newbies do, they lowered all their tariff plans compared to big SPs and succeeded in gaining high popularity among people. What mean to say is that when something new comes into market with less intial investment, it should exploit the conventional market then only it will force people towards it and thus can force other conventional farmers to adopt to the natural farming concept. Its a “one stone two bids strategy”.

I went to some ZBNF seminar recently, there the people who organised the event

First of all, Thanks Mathew for bringing up this topic.

Agree with the sentiments expressed by fellow enthusiasts that organic/natural food should come at a price of normal chemical raised food as soon as possible. But since organic/natural is poisonfree food, we the consumers should be ok spending bit high on the same compared to normal chemical raised food. Once the organic/natural becomes the new normal, I am sure the prices will be at par.

Also, there is lot of confusion in names of nonchemical poisonfree food- Organic,Natural,ZBNF,Krishi Kheti, Agnihotra etc. Purpose of all these is same - food with no poison, more nutrition. I hope this movement is not hampered by the false egos of modern gurus of these individual techniques.

From farmers point of view- The organic farming involves lot of labour and hence raises the cost. Even natural/ZBNF farming where labour cost is not as high as conventional organic farming, but due to multicrops and other important precautions, the profit is slightly decreased in first few years.
Eg. ZBNF by Palekar recommends not to take commercial production of Mango for first 10 years. The cost of this 10 years is recovered (and some profit is taken) with the help of intercrops like banana, papaya, chilli, turmeric, drumstick, etc. Now, how easy is this decision not to take commercial production for 10 years? :slight_smile: And if some farmer ethically follows this technique, is it wrong from his side to expect Rs 20 extra from us consumers? I dont think so. Slightly higher prices can actually act as a catalyst for farmers of conventional farming to shift to organic/natural farming. And we consumers, who never question why a doctor is recommending us a costly medicine for lifetime, raise our eyebrows to see poisonfree, more nutritious food being sold at Rs 20 more. If we follow what Ayurveda says ‘Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food’, shifting to organic/natural food will actually save us lot of money(on medicines), and will serve a higher purpose towards prosperity of humans.

Girish Mankekar.

Hi All,
    let me tell you my experince just couple of days ago .

I was on farm and wanted to sell groundnut from our farm . We do not use pesticides and chemical fertilizers because we did not faced and pest since eco system around farm is good .

My brother just called to one of the most leading organic food brand in town and inquired if they will be interested to buy this produce and surprisingly he said yes and need to check quality of the produce .

As per my conversation with them couple of years ago, it takes 3  years to get organic certification from this same company .
So its really difficult to believe what peoples are buying as organic will be really organic .  Corruption is every where and it might be here also .


woah! glad i came across the post.
i read about the price of organic produce being less, and so the produce. which discourages the grower towards the practises.
also that the local organic produce consumption is not a good quantity.

this all is partially true. local consumption is not good, but what about mumbai, delhi market ?
i have more exposure to these so i have bit of an idea about the organic produce demand.
i am from nasik, Maharashtra. and times have changed here! the local market is growing exceptionally. economy has changed, people have money to spend. they are health cautious. i am a capsicum grower, so i know that my customer knows the health benefits of Capsicum, and on top of that which is organic certified.
i had problems initially, but as anything else, it takes time. why limit to local market? why not export? now the question is i dont have enough quantity to ship. so why not do co-operative farming? why not make groups, have a central system which is transparent?

there are growers who are doing it. just cause we dont know, doesn’t mean its not happening.
i have seen organic capsicum been sold at $12/kg in premium markets, which is grown in india!
there are people who are privileged and can afford the price. ordinary person cant afford to spend much on his food. so thats not the right market.

and i will always demand more for my organic produce, as i have to put in extra efforts and pain to grow my produce and take care of my plants. plus i have had failures initially, so i have a huge backlog in terms of finance.

also there’s huge competition in the international market, which will always be. so i prefer being reasonable for the price i charge. i work on the basic of open costing, where my buyers know all my expenses involved and my profit margin as well.

and why should the produce be less? every molecule in the chemicals are present in nature in various forms. so why not use these when we want to for our benefit in terms of produce quantity and quality?

also i read about some corruption. this is true and untrue at the same time.
again, just cause we dont know, doesnt mean its not happening. there are countries which have more strict laws and rules for organic produce than rules for importing gold.
they are very serious about human health. if they are willing to pay $10/kg for organic capsicum, they WILL make sure its organic, or else theres a HUGE claim!

its pretty simple. if the customer is paying $12/kg of organic capsicum, he is not a fool.


I really appriciate your statement. There are many people who buy things which are not worth their price or quality but because it is of a certain brand. Hence why make a hue & cry about the price for organic food or vegetables. It would encourage more farmers to go for organic or natural farming. Hence it creates Demand versus supply ratio, automatically the prices will come down one fine day. Anyway you get good quality of food and health.

According to Sri Subhash Palekar, there are 50 Lakh ZBNF farmers as on 2016
Assurme there are another 50 Lakh organic farmers (non-zbnf, may be permeaculture/nauteco etc)

So total natural producers 1 crore. 
Total farmers in India 20 crore. 

There are 130 crore consumers in India alone
Assume  10% say are interested in  /aware of natural produce  ( 13 crore consumers)

These 13 crore consumers are to be fed by 1 crore farmers

Let see why the organic produce is more costly

All farm inputs are to be produced in the farm. Labour cost  is involved.

To differentiate their produce, marketing cost is involved

Considering the geographical spread of consumers and farmers, reaching them involves cost (transportation/middleman/shop commission)

Now lets talk about small and marginal farmers 80% of farmers comes under this category

For them labour cost will be zero since they work on their field
Marketing cost / logistics cost is huge.

So no wide spread adoption/acceptance of natural farming by 80% of our farmers
Unless we tackle this, natural produce will be expensive

BTW,  I am of opinion that 1 crore natural farmers is highly exaggerated. This inturn increases logistics cost as interested consumers cannot have more than 10% ( Our young population, do not have enough disposal incomes, right now struggling to meet their daily ends meet. Prevention is better than cure doesnt apply to them)

I believe those numbers are inflated.
It is a classic case where a natural farmer cannot sell his produce and a consumer cannot find natural produce.

Thanks Vivek,
Glad i came across your post. it gives me confidence and hope to carry on.

Dear forum farmer friends,

Organically produced fruits, vegetables , cereals etc ,prices are real or hype, means …it’s beyond,  for any statement.

YERA organics , Bengaluru , an organic certified farming co, is selling their organic produces at prices they fix. It is an old organic certified farming organisation.

Same like, Sahaja Samrudda, Bengaluru also selling their organic certified products , a co_ operative, trust owned, organisation,at  specified prices, but limited quantities. They are paying the sold prices to the certified farmers , by collecting only handling charges.

One company, 24 manthras, Hyderabad is selling organic Cereals, spices ,vegetables, fruits etc at their specified prices. But at what prices they are paying to the organic farmers is unknown.

Except Sahaja Samrudda , what is the prices given to the organic certified farmers, by other traders is a question mark. Of course mostly, just market prices only.

Recently, trend is slowly getting brighten for organic certified farmers. The certifying companies are circulating the names of the farmers with details of produces, contact addresses, and consumers like diffence, embassy’s, co_operative societies, factory canteens etc are trying to purchase directly by paying special prices.

There is no premium value for those produces, may be very much organic produce or natural farming produce, unless they are certified by standard authorities, for either domestic or for export.

As far as spices, cereals, nuts etc are getting good prices and for vegetables, fruits, berry’s, organic markets yet to be established.

One thing is a fact that, the large organic producers, can fix up their prices for organic and the problems are for small&marginal organic farmers. The only remedy is , small organic farmers mingle together, farm a co_operative societies ,and sell their organic produces.

Hope the day is not much far.

With best wishes,    g.p.rao,    farmer

Dear Mr. Rao,

Good point. Grains, nuts and other produce have shelf life. Vendors inflate the rates and get benefited. Nonetheless some farmers also get benefited directly, provided they are connectd to metros.

I was working with a organic farm approx 30 acres, for some time. Completely veggies grown, more than 80 percent of the produce goes in mandies as there is limited platforms to sell huge volumes at a time, unless some one can process it and sell later. Which is yet to develop.