After taking action against errant certification agencies, agri export promotion body APEDA is now considering rolling out “Organic Aadhaar” for the farmers engaged in organic farming under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) to rule out any possibility of bogus enrollment.

“It is under active consideration as we want to take all necessary measures to ensure India’s organic products remain one of the most preferred in the global market,” said M Angamuthu, Chairman of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

The NPOP standards for production and accreditation for unprocessed plant products have been recognised by the European Commission and Switzerland as equivalent to their country standards. Indian organic products certified by accredited certification bodies of India are accepted by the importing countries in Europe. Negotiations are on with South Korea, Taiwan, Canada and Japan to get similar recognition from these countries.

However, there were some incidences of chemical residues being found in organic sesame exported to Europe last year, following which actions (categorisation as high risk, suspension and penalty) were taken against certification agencies by India and EU. Later, India’s organic cotton exports also came under a cloud due to alleged data of some fake farmers’ groups.

ULPIN scheme

The government has been implementing a 14-digit identification number to every plot of land in the country. The Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) scheme was launched in 10 States last year and will soon be rolled out across the country. This could also become a powerful tool to identify the organic land, official sources said.

The idea is to create an identity for the farmer, based on Personal Aadhar and ULPIN, for the organic certification process. The data element of Organic Aadhaar shall become the deep foundation to the integrity of India’s organic agriculture, the sources said. “The organic Aadhaar combined with Tracenet will create a robust system to effectively plan and monitor policy measures,” Angamuthu said.

Tracenet

The Tracenet system, launched in 2009, to provide details of products exported from the country. Though the system, details about the farmer, his land and inputs used in producing the product are made available for the products exported from India.. In June 2021, APEDA had set up an expert committee to strengthen and simplify organic agriculture.

“Organic Aadhaar is similar to voter ID card as it will provide an exclusive protection of organic status and income to the farmer in a growers group. This will protect his rights to sell the produce at a higher price without losing organic status. If implemented, its impact could be witnessed in the coming years as it would make NPOP a superior organic standard in the global map,“ said S Chandrasekaran, a trade policy analyst.

Total area under organic certification process (registered under NPOP) was 43.39 lakh hectares as on March 31, 2021. This includes 26.58 lakh hectares of cultivable area and another 16.81 lakh hectares under wild harvest collection. India produced 34.96 lakh tonnes of certified organic products such as oilseeds, sugarcane, millets, cotton, pulses, tea, coffee, fruits, vegetables and spices in 2020-21.

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