Due to a surge of interest in chickpea products we were caught short this year as our farmers didn’t grow enough of the desi variety of chickpea which is popular for snacks and besan flour. Then a very dry summer growing season has exacerbated the shortage. As a consequence, this year we’ve had to source more organic chickpeas from the homeland of chickpeas – India.
The desi chickpeas are grown by about 37 different farmers around the Anjangaon region in Maharashtra state. Farmers in the area have been farming this crop for many years. In most cases the entire family works in some way or other on the farm and they live in houses in small villages nearby to the farms. This is quite different to Australia where the vast size of farms and the distance between towns means farmers often live many kilometres from the nearest town.
The organic farmers in India are rooted in traditional farming methods which were being used long before the “green revolution” of the 1950s and 1960s introduced chemicals and artificial fertilisers. This area has been cultivated perhaps for thousands of years. As a consequence they have a good knowledge base and the resources to sustain their organic practices.
Desi chickpeas are grown in dry areas. Crops are sown in October and harvested in April. The dry climate means only one crop is grown in a year.
While all organic grains are traceable back to the individual for reasons of organic auditing, the chickpeas from these farmers all get combined at the processing site. There the chickpeas are split open to make what is known as chana dal. Our order is then graded, packaged and shipped to us. The company maintains records of grain sources but they don’t keep them in the way that we have set things up to enable the Plate2Farm tracker, and without a great deal of paper work they couldn’t tell us specifically which of the farmers grew the shipment of chickpeas we received.
We can tell you that India complies with the international codes for organic produce and all grains the company sends to us are certified organic strictly quality controlled.