In order to promote organic farming in the country in view of its great export potential and also because of its eco-friendly nature, the National Steering Committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary Commerce approved the National Program for Organic Production at its meeting on 2nd May 2001.
As is well known organic farming is a system where farming is practiced without use of any artificial inputs like chemical fertilizers, pesticides etc. and the soil is enriched by natural methods such as rotation of crops, vermin compositing, use of natural manures like cow dung, agricultural waste material etc. For dealing with pests, retardants like neem products are used. Product produced by organic farming are considered to be very healthy for humans as well as for animals and hence command a high premium in the international market.
Under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), documents like National standards, Accreditation Criteria for accrediting, inspection and certification agencies, Accreditation Procedure, Inspection and Certification Procedures have all been prepared and approved by the National Steering Committee. These documents were prepared on the basis of the guidelines evolved by the representative international organization, International Federation for Organic Agricultural Movement (IFOAM), EU Regulations and Codex standards. These are available for sale with the Accreditation Agencies.
For regulating the export of certified organic products, Director General of Foreign Trade, Govt. of India has issued a Public Notice No. 19 (RE-2001)/1997-2002 dated 11th June 2001 (Please see Annexure I) which was amended by Public Notice No. 25 (RE-2001)/1997-2002 dated 2nd July 2001 (Please refer Annexure II) according to which no certified organic products could be exported as such from 1st October 2001 unless they were certified by an Inspection and Certification Agency duly accredited by one of the Accreditation Agencies designed by the Govt. of India. APEDA has also issued a Trade Notice No. ORG/004/2001 dated 13.6.2001.
(Please refer Annexure III) inviting application from Certification agencies for accreditation. An advertisement was released in the press on 16th June 2001 in this regard.
The National Steering Committee has designed the following statutory Boards/Authority as Accreditation Agencies
1. Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).
2. Coffee Board
3. Spices Board
4. Tea Board
5. Coconut Development Board
6. Directorate of Cashew and Cocoa Development
APEDA has been assisting the Commerce Ministry in preparing the various documents under the National Programme for Organic Production and has also developed the National Organic Logo.
RECOGNITION FOR OUR NPOP UNDER EU REGULATIONS
APEDA has already submitted an application on 30/6/2001 through the Advisor (Agri & Marine), Mission of India to the EU, Brussels for inclusion of India in the list of third countries under Article 11 of the EU regulations No. 2092/91 so that India’s National Programme for Organic Production gets recognition under the EU regulations. Copies of the National Standard and the Guidelines for implementation of the NPOP as approved by the National Steering Committee, Govt. of India, have been submitted to the Director-General, DG-Agriculture, European Commission, Brussels through the Mission of India to the EU, Brussels.
STATUS OF CERTIFIED FARMS:
There are about 107 certified organic producers in the country for the products covered under APEDA. A list of such producers and exporters, as collected from the certification agencies is at Annexure IV. The export of organic products covered under APEDA during 2000-2001 is estimated at Rs. 5 crores only, but in view of the number of projects coming up in the country, the exports are expected to go up substantially.
MODEL ORGANIC FARMS
Since the modern agricultural practices have not invaded the North Eastern Region (NER), APEDA has set up four model organic farms in the NER for Joha Rice, Sugarcane, passion Fruit and Pineapple. Techno Economic Feasibility Studies were prepared for setting up the model organic the MoC for supporting the model organic farms in the NER. With the assistance of technical Consultant BCIL, separate packages of practice have been prepared for implementation. NGOs were identified to coordinate the organic farming activities in the four model farms with the farmers concerned who are the owners of the land. The organic farming methods were actually demonstrated to the farmers.
These farms were continuously being monitored by APEDA making frequent visit to the farms and guiding the farmers on every stage as under:
APEA has conducted a few awareness programmes for organic production in some of the states in collaboration with the respective State Govts.
As a result of the awareness programme in Gujarat, an organic farm for production of aflatoxin free organic groundnuts has been set up in the Junagarh District under the technical guidance of Dr. M. Basu, Principal Scientist, National Research Centre for Groundnut.
The Tripper Govt. has identified the land and an NGO for setting up a model organic farm for “Kasha” variety rice in that state for which APEDA has already conducted the Techno Economic Feasibility Study. In view of the large scale pineapple production in Tripper without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, an Agri Export Zone for production, processing and export of organic pineapple products has been set up in the state of Tripura.
In order to promote export of organic products, an organic Exporters Meet was organized in the APEDA office May 2001 and an export strategy is being evolved based on the recommendations of the Exporters Meet.
It is proposed to have a separate section on Organic farming in the APEDA website which will contain all the relevant information for the organic producers, exporters, importers and all concerned. It is also proposed to put briefs on each organic farm in the Virtual Trade Fair (VTF) in APEDA’s site.
APEDA has formulated schemes for assistance in the Xth Plan to promote export oriented organic farming in the country which has been submitted for approval to the Govt.
As per the decisions taken at the National Steering Committee Meeting held on 2.5.2001, APEDA has already given accreditation to the three international Certification agencies operating in India so that the export of organic products go uninterrupted. Since it is felt that the cost of inspection and certification are on the higher side, the certification agencies have been persuaded to bring down their cost and a Tariff Schedule has been made a part of the MOU entered between APEDA and the Certification Agencies. Names and addresses of these Certification Agencies are at Annexure V. SKAL and ECOCERT have been given only provisional accreditation and they have been asked to establish regular offices in India.
GUIDELINES FOR PRODUCTION
APEDA has prepared the product specific guidelines for production of following products and also product and area specific "Packages of Practices".
d. Passion fruit
These are available for sale at APEDA. This activity will continue to cover all the products covered under APEDA having export potential.
APEDA's membership with the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movement (IFOAM), Germany, has been revived so that we can be in touch with the developments taking placed world over in the organic sector. APEDA is also proposing to take up membership of International Accreditation Forum, Inc., USA, in order to gain equivalence for our NPOP with the similar programmes of USA, Japan, Canada and Australia.
The list of certification agencies is kept at Annexure V.
APEDA has been promoting the Indian organic products by regularly participating in the Biofach International Fair for exclusively organic products – being held in Germany annually exclusively for organic Products. We have participated successfully in the BIOFACH 2002 being held in Nuremburg from 14th to 17th February 2002.
NATIONAL ORGANIC LOGO
On behalf of Govt. of India, APEDA has developed a National Organic Logo which will be used as the National Organic identification mark by all concerned. APEDA is taking efforts to register this logo with the Register of Trademark on behalf of the Govt. of India.