U Maung Thein, vice chair of the association in Mandalay, said only farmers who have attended organic training courses and obtained certificates will be allowed to sell produce for free during the first three months. 

“Any person or any firm that hasn’t obtained an organic certificate won’t be allowed to sell at the market,” he said. “They must have attended courses and understood the basic principles of organic farming.”

He emphasised that the market is not only aimed to making a profit but to make safe organic fruits, vegetables and other crops available to Mandalay people. 

The association opened its first market in Yangon and plans to open organic markets in other cities. 

U Maung Thein said that many people are getting cancer and other illnesses from food grown with chemical fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides that are harmful to human health.

“What we can do for now is open organic markets,” he said. 

He said the association plans to open organic markets in Nay Pyi Taw, Pyin Oo Lwin and Myingyan. 

He admitted that organic vegetables, fruits and other produce are more expensive than those grown with chemicals. “But the prices are not that different from those of non-organic produce,” he said. “Pineapples are K1000 each, but when you buy two, they are only K500 each. A bundle of vegetables only costs K100,” he said.

U Maung Thein said the extra cost of organic produce is less than what you would spend on medicine and hospitalisation if you got sick.

“You need to pay the price if you want to be healthy. Buy the best for your health that you can afford,” he said.