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Action Plan for promoting organic export

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Action Plan for promoting organic export

Deepali Tewari and Kamini Bisht, GBPUAT

           Step-1: Survey and identification of various components of organic farming and export:

            To promote organic farming among Indian farming community in different pockets, it is important to survey with defined objectives and activities for effective promotion of export oriented organic farming. A group of scientists should conduct a systematic survey for following points:

  • Survey of crops and varieties prevalent in a given area having export and elite consumption potential.
  • Survey of soil type, fertility level, irrigation potential, quality of irrigation water, availability of organic manure, type of farmers.
  • Quantum of produce amendable to export, access to market, transportability and shelf life of produce.
  • Survey of economic and social status of farmers.
  • Survey and evaluation of post harvest practices facilities for storage, processing and product development.
  • Survey and evaluation of potential availability and quality of organic manure in urban and rural areas.
  • Evaluation of extent of pollution through inspectional residues and heavy metal contaminants.

            Step-2: Farmer's education

            The general mental make up of a farmer is that he is more interested in getting maximum crop yield irrespective of its quality. If a farmer adopts organic farming, he will be a get lower yield as compared to the present system. It is very important to assure him that though organically managed farms produce lower yields (particularly in the initial years) than conventional chemical-based farming, health consciousness consumers pay higher premiums (up to 100 per cent extra), particularly in the international market, which greatly helps in increasing the overall profits. These farmers have, however, to be trained about the "why, what, where and how" of organic production, processing and marketing.

Step-3: Quality control to meet out international standards

For being exportable, every crop/commodity requires to be produced and processed according to the norms and requirements of international export standards. It is a big problem that some times our produce does not find its way to international market due to presence of harmful ingredients like pesticide residues etc. Thus, phytosanitation measures should be carefully followed at all levels of production, processing, packaging, labeling and export supplies. Government should identify premier laboratories for phytosanitation, assurance and accreditation.

Step-4: Development of Agri Export Hand Book covering various aspects of production, value addition to organic manure, processing, packaging, quality parameters, shelf life, specific world markets and assisting private/public organizations, trade regulations etc. relevant to the organic agriculture and agri exports in a lucid manner and its distribution to exporting farmers/agencies.

 Step-5: Identification and categorization of farmers

The State should have crop wise, and location wise details of organic farmers, with their resource inventory relating to export oriented organic farming in the state. Peri-urban areas and around the industries producing raw organic matter should be the main focal points.

 Step-6: Marketing linkages and Net working

Certain frontal organizations promoting export-oriented agribusiness, can serve as delivery points of farmers produce and a single window facility for export. The producers should have linkages with such organisations for channelising their produce to international market through such agencies.

 Step-7: Farmers support

            For production of exportable goods on the basis of target fixed before crop season, farmers must be given some financial support. A short term financial support by nodal agencies will catalyse the export oriented agriculture particularly in case of small and economically weak farmers.

 Marketing of Organic produce in U.S.: Valuable lessons to learn:

 1. Organic farming became one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture during the 1990s. During the 1990's certified organic cropland more than doubled, and two organic livestock sectors-eggs and dairy-grew even faster. Farmers in 49 States used organic production systems and third-party organic certification services on 1,346,558 acres of farm land in 1997 and were raising certified organic livestock in nearly half of the States, according to a recent ERS report, U.S. Organic Agriculture, Two-thirds of the farmland was used for growing crops, with Idaho, California, North, Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Florida as the top producers, Colorado and Alaska had the most organic pasture and rangeland.

  • 2. U.S. producers are turning to certified organic farming systems as a potential way to lower input costs, decrease reliance on nonrenewable resources, capture high-value markets and premium prices, and boost farm income.

  • 3. Many producers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers specialize in growing, processing, and marketing an ever-widening array of organic food and fiber products.

  • 4. Organic farming has made deeper inroads in the fruit, vegetable, and specialty grain sectors than in other farm sectors. While only 0.1 percent of U.S. corn and soybean crops were grown under certified organic farming systems in 1997, over 1 percent of oats, dry peas, and tomatoes were grown organically and about 2 percent of apple, grape, lettuce, and carrot crops were organic. In addition, nearly a third of the U.S. buckwheat, herb, and mixed vegetable crops were grown under organic farming systems in 1997.

More recent reports from some of the U.S. certifiers indicate that the momentum seen in organic certification from 1992 to 1997 has continued:

  • California Certified Organic Farmers estimates 1999 acreage at 96,878, up 38 percent from 1997.
  • The Idaho Department of Agriculture estimates its 1999 certified organic cropland (excluding wild harvested herbs) at 85,061, up 55 percent from 1997.
  • Farm Verified Organic, a private certifier operating in multiple States and headquartered in North Dakota, estimates they certified 99,987 acres in 1999, also up 55 percent from 1997.
  • Preliminary estimates from the Washington Department of Agriculture show their 1999 certified acreage at 30,000, up 150 percent from 1997.
  • Organic Marketing Features Fresh Foods and direct Exchange Industry source estimate that organic food sales reached $7.8 billion in 2000. Conventional grocery stores began integrating a wider selection of organic products in the late 1990's and now account for 49 percent of total organic sales, about the same as natural food stores (48 percent). Direct Markets, such as farmers Markets, captured 3 percent of total organic sales to U.S. consumers in 2000.
  • On December 20, 2000 USDA announced final national standards for the production, handling, and processing of organically grown agricultural products. The entire Final Rule and summary fact sheets are available from USDA's National Organic Program. USDA also announced that an organic certification cost-share program will developed to provide financial assistance to farmers in 15 states to help pay their costs for organic certification. On January 17, 2001, USDA's Risk Management Agency released Bulletin No. MGr-01-004 implementing the organic farming practices section of the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000, Section 123 requires that organic farming practices be recognized as good farming practices.
  • In US "Certified organic" means that agricultural products have been grown and processed according to the specific standards of various State and private certification organizations. Certifying agents review applications from farmers and processors for certification eligibility, and qualified inspectors conduct annual onsite inspections of their operations. Inspectors talk with operator and observe their production and processing practices to determine if they are in compliance with organic standards that, for example, virtually prohibit, synthetic pesticide use in crop production and require outdoor access for animals in livestock production.

Private organisation, mostly non profits, began developing certification standards in the early 1970's as a way to support organic farming and thwart consumer fraud, and some States began offering organic certification services in the late 1980's for similar reasons. Between 40 and 50 organic certification organizations, including 13 State programs, currently conduct third-party certification.

  • Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 to establish national standards for organically produced commodities. This legislation requires that all except the smallest organic growers will have to be certified by a State or private agency accredited under national standards currently being developed by USDA's National Organic Program. The State and private groups that currently certify growers are expected to seek accreditation by USDA when the national program is implemented.


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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.