Agri Business

Centre to give farm exports an organic booster shot

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018

organic products   -  BL

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New policy aims to put India on global organic map with uniform norms



In a move that could give a boost to export of agriculture and processed food from the country, India is framing its own organic products policy with clearly prescribed safety standards, traceability norms, soil certification guidelines and good agricultural practices.

The good agricultural practices (GAP) followed by countries such as the US, Brazil, the Netherlands and France are being studied by trade experts and officials to generate adequate inputs for the policy, a government official told BusinessLine. The Commerce Ministry is framing the policy in collaboration with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

“The idea is to have one uniform policy for the organic products sector so that domestic consumers as well as foreign buyers gain confidence that the items that are being sold to them as organic meet certain laid down standards,” the official added.

A policy is also important for farmers as it would let them know exactly what they are supposed to do when they are organically farming a certain product, pointed out Arpita Mukherjee from research body ICRIER. “Every organic product has its own set of pesticide and bio-fertiliser and farmers have to know exactly what inputs they are to use,” she said.

While the global organic food market is estimated at an annual $ 72 billion, exports from India are a miniscule $ 298 million. India exports mostly to the US, Europe, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and countries in South East Asia.

In India, organic products for exports are certified by various certifying agencies accredited by the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), India, under Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Agency (APEDA). For organic products sold in the domestic market, the certification process is largely voluntary, but FSSAI and Agmark are taking some steps to regulate it, the official added.

Certification of organic soil in the country is a problem as there are no domestic certification agencies for that and the services of foreign certifying agents is use to certify the soil.

“When India is exporting organic products to the US or to the EU, it has to be first established that the norms being followed at identified organic farms match the existing norms in the buying countries,” the official said.

With a proper policy in place, the process of cross checking guidelines by importing countries would become smoother. The same guidelines would also apply on items for exports, imports and domestic market.

Traceability of inputs, especially in case of processed food to determine if all ingredients in a certified organic product are also organic, is also expected to improve once the policy is in place, the official added.

India produced around 1.35 million tonne of certified organic products which includes all varieties of food products such as sugarcane, oil seeds, cereals & millets, cotton, pulses, medicinal plants, tea, fruits, spices, dry fruits, vegetables and coffee.

Published on June 30, 2016

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