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Developments in the Organic Sector in India in 2021

Time:2022-4-14 Hits:465

Even as the pandemic-led crisis shrank India's overall economy, its agriculture sector, supported by a normal monsoon, robust kharif sowing and adequate water storage in reservoirs, remained a “bright spot”.

The Government of India sensed an opportunity in the pandemic to usher in various reforms to agricultural marketing and minimise restrictions on the movement and sale of agricultural commodities. The “Eat Right India” campaign by the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) had reached out to the public on the importance of the right food during the COVID-19 pandemic and created more awareness among the public on the importance of nutritious food. This initiative has raised awareness amongst consumers around the benefits of organic food.1 A growing number of consumers are driving the demand for organic products; these consumers perceive these products as improving immunity, better quality, and increased availability through online/e-commerce channels. India’s young, highly educated consumers are concerned with chemicals and pesticide residues in food products. This demographic is spurring demand for organic products. Indian high-income consumers are similarly propelling organic food and beverage consumption. High-end hotels and restaurants are offering specialised organic menus for patrons. This leads to the mushrooming of speciality organic stores catering to high-income consumers in Tier-1&2 cities.

India has implemented a Geographical Indication for certified organic products for exports. The government is promoting organic agriculture as part of the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) (Traditional Agriculture Development Scheme), a part of the National Mission of Sustainable Agriculture. Other schemes of the Government of India for the promotion of organic farming in the country include the Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme (CISS) under the Soil Health Management Scheme, the Mission Organic Value Chain Development for the Northeastern Region (MOVCDNER), the Indian Natural Farming Program (Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Padhati BPKP) and the GOBAR-DHAN scheme (waste to wealth programme) and others.

The Indian Council of Agriculture Research, through agriculture universities and Krishi Vigjan Kendras (KVK)3, promote the use of technology, including blockchain for sustainable farming and natural farming practices. The Government of India operates a separate website on natural farming for supporting and promoting organic farming.

The government is also implementing its Large Area Certification (LAC) program to transform “Traditional Organic Areas” into certified organic production hubs.
Certification is renewed on an annual basis through annual verification by peer appraisals as per the process of PGS-India.1 Promotion of group farming, farmer producer organisations, farmer producer companies, and women self-help groups focusing on organic farming is being undertaken at the level of national and state focused programmes. Programmes like the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PMKISAN)scheme were announced in 2019 to provide 6’000 rupees a year as income support to landowning small and marginal farmers during the pandemic crisis. In recent years, the Participatory Guarantee System has enabled the entry of many smallsized companies (private label or new entrepreneurs), thereby increasing price competition.
The prestigious Padma Shri Award for Agriculture for 2021 was given to Mrs Pappammal, a 105-year-old organic women farmer from Tamil Nadu, along with four other organic farmers, which was a tribute to all the organic farmers in the country.

Biofach-India, a virtual event in 2020, was conducted in-person in October 2021 in New Delhi. Ideas like business-farmer networks, an input e-commerce platform, an agrimarket place, etc., got automatically validated due to the need of the hour and boosted the confidence of the start-ups and investors.
Notwithstanding the successes in expanding production and commercialising organic foods, the organic industry is experiencing growing pains during the pandemic. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) decided to terminate its organic recognition agreement with India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Development Authority (APEDA) on January 11, 2021,5 and the European Union has also put strict restrictions on Indian organic products imported to Europe on detection of high ethylene oxide.

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