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Organic Farming Certification in India


Organic Farming Certification in India

The organic farming system is a traditional method of farming which focusses on growing crops in a way that soil is alive and the food that we consume is healthy. Organic farming uses organic fertilizers and farming methods that result in the sustainable production of crops without affecting the quality of the production. The concept and demand for organic farm produce is growing rapidly as consumers have started to become more aware and concentrate on the quality of the food they consume.

Organic Farming Certification

Organic farming certification in India is governed by The National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.  The National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) provides for Standards for organic production, systems, criteria and procedure for accreditation of Certification Bodies, the National (India Organic) Logo and the
regulations governing its use. The standards and procedures have been formulated in harmony with other International Standards regulating import and export of organic products. Farms that have obtained Organic Farming Certification and adhering to the norms specified by the National Programme for Organic Production will be allowed to use the following India Organic logo on the produce.

Organic Farming Logo
Organic Farming Logo


Procedure for Obtaining Organic Farming Certification

Any person looking to obtain organic farming certification for agricultural produce must submit an application in the requisite format along with the fee and complete field verification. Before submission of application, it is important for the applicant or farmer to ensure that his/her farm conforms to the standard laid out by the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) for organic crop production.

Organic Farming Requirements

Any farm which proposes to obtain the Organic Farm certification must conform to the following standards set out by the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP).

Organic Farm Requirements

The document reproduced above also contains a list of fertilisers and soil conditioning methods that are allowed under organic farming.

In addition to the above requirements, the applicant must adhere to the following requirements:

  • Prepare, implement, and update annually an organic production plan every year.
  • Permit on-site inspections with complete access to the production and handling operation, including non-certified production and handling operation, areas, structures, offices by the Organic Certification Inspectors and other higher officials, whenever required.
  • Maintain all records applicable to the organic operation for not less than 5 years after the creation of such records and allow authorized representatives of the certification body, State or Central Government officials of accrediting agency access to such records during normal working hours for review and copying to determine compliance with NPOP norms.
  • Pay the prescribed fees charged for organic farming accreditation within the stipulated time.
  • Inform the authorities in case of any application, including drift, of a prohibited substances to any, production unit, site, facility, livestock, or product that is part of an operation and changes in certified operations or any portion of a certified operation that may affect the organic integrity in compliance with standards of NPOP.

Applying for Organic Farm Certification

Once the requirements for organic farming are satisfied, the applicant can prepare and submit an application. The application for certification must contain the following information:

  1. An organic production or handling system plan.
  2. All information requested in the application shall be completed in full i.e. name, addresses, details of contact person, telephone number of the authorized person etc.,
  3. The names of organic certification body to which application is previously made and out come, non-compliance noted if any, copy of such records and reason for applying shall be given.
  4. Any other information necessary to determine the compliance with the standards specified.
  5. The prescribed registration fee, one time inspection fee, one time travel cost should be paid by the operator along with the application form.

Sample Organic Farm Certification Application Form

A sample organic farm certification is reproduced below for reference:

Organic Farm Certification Application

Fee for Organic Farm Certification

The fee for issuing organic farm certification differs based on the certifying authority. The following is the fee charged by the Tamil Nadu Organic Certification Department for organic certification:

Organic Farming Certification Fee Structure

Review of Application

On submission and review of the application, the decision of acceptance or rejection on the application would be taken by the accreditation authority. All rejected application would be returned to the applicant quoting reasons for rejection.

Scheduling of Inspection

Before sanctioning of accreditation, an initial field inspection would be fixed at a reasonable time so that the operator can verify the capacity to comply with the standards while conducting the inspection of land, facilities, and activities. The preliminary inspection can be delayed up to six months from the date of registration to give time for the operator to comply with required standards including record keeping. All onsite inspection must be conducted only in the presence of operator or an authorized representative of the operator who is educated about the operation. However, this requirement does not arise in the case of unannounced inspections. There should be one annual inspection and additional inspections can be fixed based on the risk assessment carried out during the initial inspection.

Verification During Inspection

During field inspection, the concerned authorities would verify the compliance with the NPOP standards. The authorities would ensure that the prohibited substances/ materials are not used and in case of doubt, they can draw samples of soil, water, wastes, seeds, plant tissues, plant, animal, and processed products. The samples should be tested in NABL accredited ISO 17025 laboratories. The operator would bear the cost of samples sent for analysis.

During the inspection, the concerned authorities can also conduct an interview with the person responsible for the organic production system to confirm the accuracy of information gathered during the inspection and the completeness of observation gathered during the onsite inspection. The inspector can also collect other required information. After inspection, the concerned authority would draft a checklist, inspection report and obtain the signature of the operator or his representative.

A copy of the checklist and inspection report should be sent to the concerned operator and evaluator. Inspection reports must be valued by the evaluator within a reasonable time and any additional information required should be addressed to the operator. In case of any non-compliance with the general standards, an explanation should be called from the operator and sanctions can be levied based on requirements.

Granting Of Organic Farm Certification

On conformance with the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), the accreditation agency would issue the Certificate of Registration, Transaction Certificate and Product Certificate to the eligible operators. The issue of this certificate shall be based on the decision made by the certification committee.

If the operation does not comply with the standards, the operator would be intimated about denial of certification stating the reasons. Upon receipt of such reports, the operator can correct the noncompliance and submit the report to the accreditation agency. In case of denial, the operator can also file an Appeal to the Appeal Committee.