Organic Farming in India
- Organic products are grown under a system of agriculture without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides with an environmentally and socially responsible approach.
- This is a method of farming that works at grass root level preserving the reproductive and regenerative capacity of the soil, good plant nutrition, and sound soil management, produces nutritious food rich in vitality which has resistance to diseases.
- India is bestowed with a lot of potential to produce all varieties of organic products due to its various agro climatic conditions. In several parts of the country, the inherited tradition of organic farming is an added advantage. This holds promise for the organic producers to tap the market which is growing steadily in the domestic and export sector.
- India’s rank 8th in terms of World’s Organic Agricultural land and 1st in terms of total number of producers as per 2020 data.
- As on 31st March 2020, total area under organic certification process (registered under National Programme for Organic Production) is 3.67 million Hectare. This includes 2.299 million ha cultivable area and another 1.37 million Hectare for wild harvest collection.
- Among all the states, Madhya Pradesh has covered the largest area under organic certification followed by Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh.
- During 2016, Sikkim has achieved a remarkable distinction of converting its entire cultivable land (more than 75000 ha) under organic certification.
- Among different states Madhya Pradesh is the largest producer followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
- In terms of commodities Oil seeds are the single largest category followed by Sugar crops, Cereals and Millets, Tea & Coffee, Fiber crops, fodder, Pulses, Medicinal/ Herbal and Aromatic plants and Spices & Condiments.
- The total volume of export during 2019-20 was 6.389 lakh MT. The organic food export realization was around INR 4,686 crore (689 million USD). The major export destinations are EU, USA, Canada, Switzerland, Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia.
- In terms of export value realization Processed foods including soya meal, Oilseeds, Plantation crop products such as Tea and Coffee, Cereals and millets, Spices and condiments, Dry fruits , Sugar and Medicinal plants lead among the products.
National Programme for Organic Production
- The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the Ministry of Commerce & Industries is implementing the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP).
- The programme involves the accreditation of Certification Bodies, standards for organic production, promotion of organic farming and marketing etc.
- All types of agriculture, horticulture and non-food crops are grown under organic certification process.
- Livestock, aquaculture, animal feed processing and handling, mushroom production, sea weeds, aquatic plants and green house crop production have also come under the ambit of organic certification.
- Organic products are currently exported from India only if they are produced, processed, packed and labelled as per the requirements of the NPOP.
- As per the established norm of organic production systems, the areas having chemical input usage history are required to undergo a transition period of a minimum 2-3 years to qualify as organic. During this period, farmers need to adopt standard organic agriculture practices and keep their farms under the certification process. On successful completion, such farms can be certified as organic after 2-3 years. The certification process also requires elaborate documentation and time to time verification by the certification authorities.
- The NPOP standards for production and accreditation system have been recognized by European Commission and Switzerland for unprocessed plant products as equivalent to their country standards. It enables India to export unprocessed plant products to these countries without the requirement of additional certification. The equivalency with the EU also facilitates the export of Indian organic products to the United Kingdom even in the post Brexit phase.
- Similarly, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recognized NPOP conformity assessment procedures of accreditation as equivalent to that of the National Organic Program (NOP) of the US.
- With these recognitions, Indian organic products duly certified by the accredited certification bodies of India are accepted by the importing countries. APEDA is also in the process of Bilateral equivalence with South Korea, Taiwan, Canada, Japan etc.
- Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) for India programme for local and domestic market was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare with an aim to make the certification system affordable and accessible without the need for third party certification agencies.
- PGS-India is a quality assurance initiative that is locally relevant, emphasizes the participation of stakeholders, including producers and consumers and operates outside the frame of third party certification.
- In the PGS framework, people in similar situations (in this case smallholder producers) assess, inspect and verify the production practices of each other and take decisions on organic certification.
- The certification is in the form of a documented logo or a statement.
Difference between NPOP and PGS India Certifications
- Both the programmes (NPOP and PGS-India) are independent of each other and products certified under one system cannot be processed or labeled under another system. While NPOP certified products can be traded in export and in the domestic market, PGS-India certified products can be traded only in the domestic market.
- Under the NPOP framework, Accredited certification agencies authorized under the programme are certifying organic producers. PGS-India programme was launched with an aim to make the certification system affordable and accessible without the need for third party certification agencies. Under the PGS, farmers in a group inspect each other’s land and vouch for its organic credentials.
- While NPOP is implemented by APEDA under the Ministry of Commerce & Industries, PGS-India is facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare through National Centre of Organic Farming (NCOF) as its Secretariat.
Advantages of PGS
- Procedures are simple, documents are basic, and farmers understand the local language used.
- All members live close to each other and are known to each other. As practising organic farmers themselves, they understand the processes well.
- Because peer appraisers live in the same village, they have better access to surveillance; peer appraisal instead of third-party inspections also reduces costs.
- Mutual recognition and support between regional PGS groups ensures better networking for processing and marketing.
Limitations of PGS
- PGS certification is only for farmers or communities that can organize and perform as a group within the village or in close-by villages with continuous territory and is applicable on, on-farm activities comprising of crop production, processing and livestock rearing (including bee keeping) and off-farm processing “by PGS farmers of their direct products”.
- Individual farmers or group of farmers smaller than five members are not covered under PGS. They either have to opt for third party certification or join the existing PGS local group.
- PGS ensures traceability only up to the end till it is in the custody of the PGS group. Once the product leaves the custody of PGS group there is no control of PGS on its integrity.
Why in News?
- Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal recently said that India’s organic food market is growing at 17 per cent annually and has the potential to grow at a faster pace on rising demand for health and wellness food products across the world.