India has emerged as one of the top three countries in the world where the area under organic agriculture expanded the maximum in 2020, according to latest data.

The total increase under organic cultivation globally in 2020 was 3 million hectares (mh), out of which Argentina accounted for 7,81,000 hectares (up by 21 per cent), followed by Uruguay at 5,89,000 hectares (28 per cent) and India at 3,59,000 hectares (16 per cent), according IFOAM -Organics International data.

Of the world’s total 74.9 mh under organic farming, Australia has the highest at 35.7 mh, whereas India has 2.8 mh. In contrast, out of total 34 lakh organic producers in the world, 16 lakh farmers in India are into certified organic farming.

Experts said unless and until the government takes concrete steps, the growth in organic agriculture may not see any significant improvement. Issues such as the certification process and its costs are key to the growth and there is no one particular department or agency for it. Works are fragmented and span across several organisations and ministries, experts said.

Aid for farmers

As reported by businessline in December 2022, the Cabinet is yet to approve Agriculture Ministry’s ₹2,481-crore proposal to launch the National Mission on Natural Farming (NMNF). The mission is supposed to be implemented from the current fiscal until 2025-26, with a target to bring on fold 7.5 lakh farmers to practice non-chemical natural farming on 7.5 lakh hectares. Under the scheme, farmers will get a maximum of ₹15,000/hectare (until 2025-26) depending on loss in income, if any, after switching over to natural farming.

The target realisation of enrolling 7.5 lakh farmers will take at least four years since the entire process of capacity building of farmers through formation of clusters, their certification and also organising them as FPOs is very slow, officials said. Since certification will also be there for these farmers, experts wonder how these products would get exported unless they are labelled as ‘organic.

For the export purpose, the government needs to take a call on branding under either organic or natural farming or some other name so that no one gets confused and the crops receive better prices in the market, said an expert.