Saturday, 3 January 2015

Biowin A New Brand

Wayanad Social Service Society (WSSS), an exporter of organic spices, has decided to join the array of societies and associations in the state that are selling products directly in the market by avoiding middlemen.

WSSS is planning to introduce a brand to sell organic, Fairtrade produce in the domestic market, focusing on five types of pepper, coffee, cardamom, mango and jackfruit.

"We have registered a not-for-profit company Biowin Agro Research to market almost ten spices and freeze-dried fruits in the country," said Fr John Choorappuzhayil, director of WSSS.

Started in 1974, WSSS had generated revenues of Rs 9 crore in the last fiscal, of which 70% was from exports. "Within last one year, we added 5,000 members to touch a total figure of 8,300," Choorappuzhayil said. WSSS's production facility, to be commissioned in February 2014, can freeze-dry 100 tonnes of any fruit or vegetable in eight hours.

WSSS is the fourth farmers' association to move into direct marketing. Spices Producers' Company (SPC), the trading arm of Spices Planters' Association (SPA) in Idukki district, had moved into direct marketing in March. About a year ago, Infam (Indian Farmers' Movement), an organization of farmers in the state, had opted to eliminate middle men by supplying directly to supermarkets.

"The challenge of the farming community is not increasing the productivity, but the marketing of products," said M C George, national trustee of Infam, citing the example of vanilla which was hit by low prices in Kerala a decade ago due to poor marketing.

By November, Infam will be selling cardamom in packs of 25g and 50g through the outlets of Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco). The group is also pursuing the prospect of catering to the canteens of Defence department.

In March, South Indian Green Cardamom Company Ltd (SIGCC), a for-profit company formed by cardamom farmers and traders, had forged an alliance with Tata Global Beverages Ltd (TGBL) to market its cardamom and pepper under 'Spice Mist' brand across the country. The company is currently test-marketing the products in different parts of the country, an official said.