How to be certified organic in India
Organic foods are grown/ developed without using any synthetic chemicals such as man-made fertilizers and pesticides, and they do not contain any Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’S). Organic farming is a traditional Indian farming system that focuses on live soil and healthy food.
Organic products include fresh crop produce, dairy, and other livestock products, honey, and wild collection.
Why we need an organic certification?
After we produce our products organically, we have to verify to the customer that the products or raw materials used were grown and developed through organic farming and organic procedures. For that, we need to have an organic certificate.
So this certification provides the confidence to consumers that the products they buy as organic truly produce through organic farming and organic procedures. And it protects consumers from misuse of the term “organic”.
National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP)
APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) is the governing body of India which is implementing the program for organic products, the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP). These NPOP standards have been recognized as more equivalent to the country standards of the European Commission, Switzerland, US, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Canada, etc.
NPOP standards are divided into five major sectors as follows. For each and every sector there are separate NSOP (National Standards for Organic Products).
1. Organic crop production (Click here )
2. Organic livestock, poultry, and products(Click here )
3. Organic beekeeping/Apiculture(Click here )
4. Organic aquaculture production(Click here )
5. Organic food processing and handling(Click here )
Organic certification procedure
1. Receipt of application form
Firstly the farmer has to apply to the organic certification board. For this, a copy of the application form, PAN card, annual cropping pattern, field map, general details of the farm, soil and water analysis report, land documents, and a written annual production plan should be submitted. Tamilnadu has a separate governing body which is TNOCD(Tamilnadu Organic Certification Department)
2. Scrutiny and registration of application
After the applications are verified by the inspector, they are forwarded for the registration. For this farmers have to pay a prescribed amount and after registration farmers must strict to the organic conditions. Registration can be done as an individual farmer, group of farmers or as a corporate body.
3. Inspection and evaluations of the farm and documents
On-farm inspections are done annually. They may be short notice and surprise ones. Inspections consist of physical tours, an examination of records, and oral interviews.
4. Soil, water, and plant product sampling (If necessary)
Only if the certification officer has a doubt on the farm practices, he has the right to test soil, water, and plant samples. If they prove, that there are any chemical substances the certifications can be taken back.
5. Issuing the certificate to eligible organic farmers.
After the farm is recognized as purely maintained organically, the certificate is issued assuring that farmer is an organic grower. From applying to getting the organic certificate it takes about 6 months. Certificate issuing is done online.
Scope certificate and Transaction certificate
These are the certificates required for a farmer to produce, sell, and export any agriculture produce.
1. Scope certificate – This ensures the field is maintained organically under NPOP standards. Every year certificates have to be renewed and paid a prescribed fee. (Click here)
2. Transaction certificate – This is issued by APEDA stating that the products have been produced and/or prepared in compliance with the NPOP standards (NSOP). This also has to be issued to the seller after verification by the organic certification inspector and evaluator. (Click here)
INDOCERT Standards for Non-EU country operators
These standards are developed to meet the requirements for non- EU countries by the INDOCERT. (Click here)
USDA NOP standards
These rules and regulations are developed by the National Organic Program (NOP) for the production, handling, labeling, and enforcement of products. To label and sell organic products in the U.S., compliance with NOP standards is an indispensable requisite. (Click here)
Charges for inspection and certification of organic products in India
According to APEDA, there are various government and private bodies that cater to organic certification