Organic Certification

Organic Certification

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Organic certification means having the farm and the farmer’s methods inspected by an organic certifying group to ensure that they comply with the guidelines on organic farming. Organic certification improves the image of organic agriculture and provides transparency in certification. For gaining consumer’s confidence, valid organic certification is an essential pre-requisite for marketing, especially in the export market. Generally, organic certification involves many standards of inspection and certification.

Certification is a procedure by which a third party gives a written assurance, that a product, causes or service is in confirmity with certain standards. Organic standards are defined as minimum production practices including storage, transportation, processing, handling, packing, and labeling requirements, which must be followed for certifying the products as organic.

It is to be recognised that animals are a part of the organic farming system since they contribute to nutrient cycles, soil fertility, and higher yields. Drought purpose is achieved and the by-products are utilized well. Forage crops improve crop rotation and allow for diversification in farming. There are many organic standards on national, as well as international levels. Generally, standards vary with the country and to sell the products in a particular country, the standards of the importing country are to be followed. Certification is the key to the national organic programme.

In US, since 21 st October 2002, it is a federal office to label any food product as organic unless they have been certified. The certification process focuses on the methods and materials used in production. There are two main requirements:

  1. The methods and materials used in production must meet organic standards.
  2. There must be clear and ongoing documentation of these methods and materials.

The concept of organic certification is that a third party(an organic certifying agent) evaluates producers, processors, and handlers to determine whether they conform to an established set of operating guidelines called organic standards. Those confirm to the guidelines are certified by the agent and allowed to use a logo, product statement or certificate to document their product as ‘certified organic’. In other words, the certifier vouches for the producer and assures buyers of organic products integrity.

Organic Certification In India

The Ministry of Commerce launched NPOP (National Programme for Organic production) in March 2000, designed to establish national standards for organic products, which could then be sold under the logo “India organic”. For the proper implementation of NPOP, NAPP (National Accreditation Policy and Programme) has been formulated with Accreditation Regulations announced in May 2001. These make it mandatory that all certification bodies whether international or foreign operating in the country must be accredited by an Accreditation Agency.

There are 6 Accreditation Agencies in India:

  1. Agricultural Processed Food Products Export Development Authority(APEDA)
  2. Coffee board
  3. Spices board
  4. Coconut Developmental Board
  5. Tea Board
  6. Directorate of Cashew and Cocoa development

APEDA has recognised the following inspection certification bodies, all of these are able to certify based on the NPOP:

  1. BVQ1 (India) Pvt. Ltd. (Mumbai)
  2. Ecocert SA (Aurangabad)
  3. IMO Control Private Limited (Bangalore)
  4. Indian Organic Certification Agency (INDOCERT, Aluva)
  5. International Resources for farmer trade members
  6. Lacon Quality Certification Pvt. Ltd. (Theepany. Kerala)
  7. National organic certification Association Pvt. Ltd. (Pune)
  8. One Cert Asia Agri Certification Pvt. Ltd. (Jaipur)
  9. SGS India Pvt. Ltd. (Gurgaon)
  10. Skal International (Bangalore)
  11. Uttaranchal State Organic Certification Agency (Uttaranchal)

Many of the Indian farmers are small and poor farmers, who may not be able to afford the cost of certification. For this, group certification processes like Internal Control System (ICS) and Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) have come as alternative means of certification to reduce the cost of certification.

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