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Large Area Certification’ (LAC) scheme 

Large Area Certification’ (LAC) Scheme –The Government of India has certified 14,491 ha of such area under Car Nicobar and Nancowry group of islands in UT of A&N Islands. This area becomes the first large contiguous territory to be conferred with organic certification under the ‘Large Area Certification Scheme ‘of the PGS-India (Participatory Guarantee System) certification programme.

Analysis

  • Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) is working to identify Traditional Organic Areas to transform them into certified organic production hubs.
  • Car Nicobar and Nancowry group of Islands have been traditionally organic for ages.
  • Additionally, to bring isolated individual farmers to the certified organic fold, DAC&FW has also launched an organic certification support scheme under PKVY (Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana). Under the scheme, individual farmers can avail of financial assistance for certification under any of the prevailing certification systems of NPOP or PGS-India.

Targeting Traditional Agricultural Area to Organic through Large Area Certification

  • Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare under its flagship scheme of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY) has launched a unique quick certification program “Large Area Certification” (LAC) to harness these potential areas (areas in hills, tribal districts, desert, and rained areas in India that continue to remain free from chemical input usage).
  • The large Area Certification scheme is a Quick certification process that is cost-effective and farmers do not have to wait for 2-3 years for marketing PGS organic certified products.
  • Under LAC, each village in the area is considered as one cluster/group.
  • Documentations are simple and maintained village-wise.
  • All farmers with their farmland and livestock need to adhere to the standard requirements and on being verified get certified en-mass without the need to go under conversion period.
  • India now has more than 30 lakh ha area registered under organic certification and slowly more and more farmers are joining the movement.
  • As per the international survey report (2021) India ranks at 5th place in terms of area registered under organic certification and is at the top in terms of a total number of producers (the base year 2019).

National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP)

  • Organic products are currently exported from India only if they are produced, processed, packed, and labeled as per the requirements of the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP).
  • The NPOP has been implemented by APEDA since its inception in 2001 as notified under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulations) Act, 1992.
  • The NPOP certification has been recognized by the European Union and Switzerland which enables India to export unprocessed plant products to these countries without the requirement of additional certification.
  • The equivalency with the EU also facilitates the export of Indian organic products to the United Kingdom even in the post-Brexit phase.
  • NPOP has also been recognized by the Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) for the trade of organic products in the domestic market.
  • Organic products covered under the bilateral agreement with NPOP need not be recertified for import in India.

Organic Food

  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has the mandate to regulate the manufacture, distribute, sell, or import “organic foods” in India under the Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017 notified under the provisions of the Food Safety Standards Act, 2006.
  • Non-food items are not covered under the mandate of the FSS Act, 2006.

Which systems of certification are recognized in the Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017?

  • The Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017 recognize already established two systems of certification i.e.:
  • Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) implemented by Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, and
  • National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) implemented by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • The Accredited Certification Bodies in the case of NPOP and Local Group in the case of PGS-India are responsible for certifying the Organic Food.
  • If a food is marked ‘organic’, it does not mean it does not contain insecticides and contaminants. However, their limit is regulated.
  • The Ministry of Commerce has implemented the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) since 2001.
  • Fruits, vegetables, fiber, and animal products that do not contain chemical pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, and induced hormones can be certified as organic food in India.

Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana

  • “Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana” of the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare is an elaborated component of the National Mission of Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).
  • Under PKVY Organic farming is promoted through the adoption of the organic village by cluster approach and Participatory Guarantee System (PGS)
  • Expected outcomes
  • Promotion of commercial organic production through certified organic farming.
  • The produce will be pesticide residue-free and will contribute to improving the health of consumers.
  • It will raise farmer’s income and create a potential market for traders.
  • It will motivate the farmers for natural resource mobilization for input production.
  • Program implementation
  • Fifty or more farmers will form a cluster having 50 acres of land to take up the organic farming under the scheme. In this way, during three years 10,000 clusters will be formed covering a 5.0 lakh acre area under organic farming.
  • There will be no liability on the farmers for expenditure on certification.
  • Every farmer will be provided Rs. 20,000 per acre in three years for the seed to harvesting crops and to transport produce to the market.
  • Organic farming will be promoted by using traditional resources and organic products will be linked with the market.

Organic Farming Policy of 2005

Large Area Certification Scheme Objectives –

  • Maintenance of soil fertility by encouraging and enhancing the biological cycle within farming systems involving micro-organisms, soil flora, and fauna, plants, and animals.
  • Identification of areas and crops suitable for organic farming.
  • Setting up of model organic farms for getting seed material for organic cultivation.
  • Assurance of production and supply of quality organic input.
  • Adoption of biological methods for pest and disease control.
  • Promotion of group certification.
  • Improvement in the condition of livestock allows them to perform all aspects of their innate behavior.
  • Since the launch of the Organic Farming Policy of 2005, there has been an increase in the area under organic farming by about 70 percentSikkim is now a fully organic state.
  • So, despite accusations that the PKVY is merely a repackaging of previously existing schemes, it really is a more focused and targeted approach towards the promotion of organic farming techniques and benefits.
  • Note: Manure contains large quantities of organic matter and small quantities of nutrients. It increases the water-holding capacity of sandy soil.
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