How to take Organic Certification in India?
Organic Farming has been a farming practice that improves water quality and conserves energy, increasing biodiversity and contributing to soil health. Organic products have grown in demand and the consumers also have become so concerned about their foods and its manufacturing process.
Organic food has a worldwide demand and the consumers are purchasing them through traditional channels like supermarkets. But this doesn’t buy them satisfaction as they don’t know whether the products that they are buying are actually organic or not.
So the Agricultural Organisation has started giving organic certification for the produce to the farmers which assures the customer of buying the actual Organic products and it also enables the farmers to get premium on his returns.
So Meanwhile, we will find ‘How to get this Organic Certificate in India’ in this article.
What is an Organic Certificate?
Organic certificate is a certification process for small & large scale farmers who produce organic foods & organic food products. These certificates are issued to the farmers who are producing the Organic products and also to the seeds suppliers, food processors, retailers and restaurants as well.
It gives assurance of the quality and prevents fraud, promoting commerce. The certification verifies your farm for the handling facility complying with the Organic regulations and once you get certified, anything you produce can be sold, labelled and represented as Organic products.
This set of organic regulations prescribed by the governing body describes the specific standards that are required for the farm to use the word ‘Organic‘ on the food, feed or fibre products produced by you.
In India, the guidelines for Organic Certificate are given by NPOP (National Program for Organic Production) and its regulatory body APEDA (Agricultural and Processed food products Export Development Authority).
The products that are organically certified are given an ‘Indian Organic‘ logo that are displayed to the customers to identify these certified products.
Principle of Standards
NPOP has given a set of standard guiding principles for the Organic Certification process in India. These requirements vary from country to country and involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping stages. The requirements for an Organic farm are as follows:
- The land must be converted for doing organic The organic farm land that is to be used should be free from prohibited chemical inputs for a number of years.
- All inputs to the farm should be natural and all the synthetic chemical input such as fertilisers, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives or Irradiation and sewage sludge should be avoided.
- No genetically modified inputs or Irradiation Technology should be used.
- Integrity of all processes i.e physical, biological and mechanical, must be maintained at all times.
- Contamination from the nearby farms or other means must be avoided.
- Sustainable practises must be followed in the farm.
- The requirements such as feeding, housing and breeding for the livestock should be properly maintained.
- The production and sales should have a detailed and written record.
- The Organic products should be physically separated from the non certified products.
- On site inspection should be periodically done.
What can be Certified?
Organic products can be categorised into 4 types:
- Crops – The plants which can be harvested as a food, livestock feed, fibre or even as a nutrient for the field are grouped in the crops category.
- Livestock – The animals that can be used for food or for the production of food, fibre, or feed are grouped in livestocks category.
- Processed Products – The products which are packaged like chopped carrots, soups or combined or processed are kept under this category.
- Wild crops – These crops are the plants from a growing site but are not cultivated.
Benefits of Organic Certification
Organic Certification helps the producers and handlers to:
- Receive premium prices for their products
- Access the fast growing local, regional and international markets.
- Support the local economies.
- Access the additional funding and technical assistance
- Bring the market products to the consumers.
Process of Organic Certification in India
Organic Certification can be obtained for all types of Agricultural products including processed foods and the foods served in restaurants. Any farmers owning a land can apply for Organic Certification for their produce.
There is an internet based e-service offered by APEDA called ‘Tracenet’ to collect, record and report the data on organic certification which facilitates the process of organic certification.
It is also used for tracing the organic produce of the farm from anywhere in the supply chain. The Organic certification process is carried out by the accredited bodies under NPOP.
The process of Organic Certification is carried out in 5 steps. They are:
- Develop an Organic system plan – The plan for an organic system is the foundation of the organic certification The producer or handler who seeks certification should comply with the rules and regulations based on its unique characteristics and should address all the practises of the farming for handling systems such as tilling, grazing, harvesting, storing and transporting and should also specify the approved substances used during the different stages of cultivation, the monitoring practises of organic system and record keeping system.
- Implementation of the Plan and have it reviewed by the Certifying agent – The plan should be implemented and should be reviewed by the certifying agent.
- Inspection by the Certifying body – The farm applied for Organic certification is first inspected by the certifying agent where they check the crops, soil conditions, crop health, management of weeds and pests, water system, storage areas and equipment; and for livestock, they inspect about the feed production and its records, feed rations, housing managements, health management practises like vaccination, health records, number of animals and condition of animals on the farm. The certifying inspector evaluates the receiving, processing and the storage areas used for the organic ingredients and the finished products.
- Review of the Inspection Report by the Certifying agent – The inspection team create a report about the collected data during the inspection and they also generate a report about the risks of contamination from the prohibited materials and they even take the soil from the farm as a sample if they need, which they present to the certifying agent who analyses the potential hazards and critical control points and then reviews the report of the collected data.
- Decision of the Certifier – The certifying agent after reviewing the report of the inspection issues the Organic certificate where they list the products that can be sold as organic from that Farm. The organic farm or facility continues to update its plan as it modifies its practises. The inspection is carried out at least once a year to maintain the certification and is issued only if the operation complies with the rules of the certification.
The above steps of organic certification can be simply understood through these points:
- The farmers apply for the Organic Certification by any certification body and get the receipt.
- The farmers are provided with standard and operational documents by the certification
- An agreement of role and commitment between the farmers and the certification body is done.
- The accredited body demands fees from the farmers.
- The related documents are audited.
- The internal quality system manager and external Inspector inspect the field regularly along with documentation.
- All the documents and land are verified through inspection and audits.
- The field Inspector generates the reports for the same.
- The reviewing body gives the review for the report prepared by the field inspector.
- The decision on certification is taken finally.
Of all the steps mentioned above, the field inspection is one of the most important step in the process of organic certification in India and the complete Inspection Method can be understood by the following:
- The external Inspector visits the field and checks the facilities provided in the field.
- The records and accounts are reviewed.
- The input and output norms are calculated and the production estimate of the farm is calculated.
- There is an assessment of the production system of the farm.
- The responsible person is interviewed.
- The risk from the neighbouring farms is assessed.
- The use of genetically modified products are inspected.
- The use of off-farm inputs are inspected.
- The residue of the previous crops are analysed and tested by the certified Laboratories for pesticides or heavy metals whenever and wherever required.
- The sustainable practises are inspected.
- The entire production unit is inspected and studied.
The organic certificate for any produce in the farm is valid for only three years. However, it can be renewed after the expiry of three years.
Organic Certification for Wild Harvest
The farmers can also apply for Organic certification for their wild harvest and it doesn’t require any conversion period for these lands. The organic certification for the wild harvest has certain features:
- The products are only certified and not the entire forest.
- The organic certification only applies to the natural forests.
- The collection should not exceed sustainable yield of any species and it should not threaten the local ecosystem and 40% of the produce should be left in the forest itself.
- The produce from the forest must be derived from a stable and sustainable growing environment.
- The collection produced should positively contribute to the maintenance of natural heritage.
Time Period & Cost Economics for Organic Certification
For getting Organic certification, the expenditure is categorised as:
- The individual farmers are charged within ₹25,000 to ₹40,000.
- The expenses for the farmer groups is between ₹40,000 to ₹1,00,000.
The Time period for getting the certificate can be understood by this table.
|Type of Agricultural unit||Time period|
|Fruit Orchard||36 months|
|Dairy units on certified land||90 days|
|Food processing unit||1 day|
|Unused land||12-36 months depending upon the location. The time period is the same as a farm or fruit orchard but can be relaxed by 12 months for remote areas.|
Organic certification involves a lot of record keeping and processing and it looks very tough but it adds a lot of value to the produce and it provides premium returns to the farmers.
The customers get ready to pay a premium if they are assured of the Organic products that they are buying and not becoming a part of the fraud activity. The Indian organic logo provides assurance to the end customer. The certification is valid in North America and EU also apart from India.