Considering that organic food products constitute a minuscule part of India's total farm exports, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is working towards exempting organic processed foods from export ban, said AK Tripathy, joint secretary, Department of Commerce and Industries, Government of India at the 4th National Conference on Organic Farming organised by Assocham in New Delhi.
“With a view to provide an enabling policy environment, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is trying to get that there would never be any ban on organic processed food exports even if the primary produce of that commodity is subjected to some restrictions,” said Tripathy.
Tripathy stressed that the credibility of India’s organic food exporters would remain in question outside the country unless the dichotomy between domestic and exports is removed.
“If domestic standards are made compulsory then the supply will become much larger, and hence the supply available for exports will also be much larger,” he added.
In his address, Santosh Sarangi, chairman cum secretary, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), said that one of the major challenges for India is to maintain the integrity of organic certification system.
“All stakeholders like farmers, processors, traders and the certification bodies in the organic process should be fully involved and committed to maintaining the integrity of the certification system,” said Sarangi.
He explained that there is a huge potential for the country to penetrate into the US$ 64 billion worth global organic food market as India currently has a meagre 0.35 percent share in the global organic food basket.
Sarangi also said that APEDA is working towards increasing the portfolio of organic products available for exports from India in order to have a higher share of organic products which are exported.
Addressing the conference, Somnath Poudyal, Agriculture Minister of Sikkim, said that limited availability of organic inputs like bio-fertilisers, bio-pesticides, organic seeds, planting materials and others is a key challenge being faced by the organic farming community in India.
He also emphasised on the need to focus on scientific backup and research in organic production system.
“We must assure our farming community that their produce will be fully marketed at a fair and legitimate price, and premium price must be offered to farmers for organic products that differentiate their products from chemical-based ones,” said the minister.
He further stressed that contract farming is another area which is appropriate in encouraging farmers to produce quality organic harvests.
Emphasising on organic food, Krishan Guptaa, MD & CEO, Organic India Pvt. Ltd., said, “It is the fundamental right of every human being and living animal to get safe and clean food which can only be achieved by the organic food. It is less hazardous to life and also provides better nutritional value.”
The issues ranging from opportunities and challenges were raised in the conference. According to Phetook Tshering Bhutia, secretary at Department of Agriculture, Government of Sikkim, lack of availability of organic seeds, lack value addition, market linkage, lack of awareness among the farmers are the major roadblocks in front of organic farming.