Technology

Organic Certification: Smarter Way to Market Agriculture Products

The Organic Industry will be a vibrant sector in the years to come. What we used to eat 100 years ago is now termed as ‘organic’ food. India’s traditional farming system, agro-climatic conditions, diversity in vegetation and culture suits to organic farming.

Consumers are demanding healthy, nutritious, safe, and natural food nowadays. Third Party Certification as per regional or national and/or private standards plays an important role to verify safety of the products marketed as ‘Organic’. In the era of mall culture and consumerist world, one must see products labelled as ‘certified’ before purchase. Each labelled product must contain a tracking and traceability number, followed by reference to organic production method. This will help consumers to track the product back to its source and also to investigate or take corrective actions if the product does not meet their requirement. Time has come that conscious consumers must change their shopping habits due to food safety concerns. Brand name or higher price alone may not be a direct indication of safer food.

Certification Body (CB) accredited by National Accreditation Board (NAB), Government of India, offers third party certification in our country. CB certification activities are monitored and regulated by NAB. CB offers certification as per India’s National Organic Standard and takes responsibility to guarantee consumers about the safety of the products they certify.

An organic certification label has positive meaning to the consumer with respect to food safety and conservation of vital natural resources like water, soil and bio-diversity. Third party certification also ensures sustainability of farming systems, ecology and economics of the farmers. It also ensures integrity of organic products at every stage of the food supply chain (starting from farm to shelf).

Recent statistics shows that $63 billion worth certified products transacted in the international market and Indian contribution was found to be only 0.35 percent. We, as a country, need to be always aware of international/domestic demand for quality food and utilise our natural resources accordingly rather than supply what is available. Taste excellence and environmental sustainability can go hand-in-hand.

Farmers in India, from the supply side, have a great opportunity and can market healthy produce by opting for third party certification. Organic certification improves the market linkage, helps to understand the cost of production and gives importance to family farming systems. It also addresses the problem of soil degradation which leads to fall in productivity. Organic farming is comparatively less risky compared to conventional farming.

Organic certification certainly gives unique marketable opportunity for a processor or a trader in domestic as well as international markets. Certified raw ingredients or processed products, marketed with organic certification, fetch better price for keeping the products healthy and for taking due care from farming to final destination. Certification guarantees that the processor/trader kept the organic integrity of the products at every stage of processing. Past statistics shows that out of total organic products exported from India covers:

• Fruits/Vegetables – 30 percent;

• Dairy Product – 15 percent;

• Grains/Pulses – 5 percent;

• Spices – 10 percent;

• Processed Products – 33 percent;

• Non Food Items – 7 percent (which includes textile and cosmetic items).

The major ‘organic’ products exported from India are tea, basmati rice, soybeans, sugar, mangoes (in processed form) and spices. Indian cuisines are enjoyed by many in the international market, nowadays. Innovative products and super grains like flax seeds, grain amaranths (which are nutritionally dense or rich) are highly in demand in US/EU markets. Organic certification helps in telling the story of certified products to the consumers.

Organic and allied certificates promote the sustainability approach in food business. Certifications take into consideration issues like climate change, carbon neutral, water neutral, energy saving, bio-diversity etc. One needs to have clear planning of production/processing techniques which must be in compliance with the applicable standards. All activities must be tightly controlled by trained people and show continuous improvement in every aspect to produce healthy and safe food by respecting natural resources. By opting organic certification, you can tackle the problem of cross contamination, chemical residues and adulteration of food. Every household must consume organic products, which is the right of every citizen in India.

Modern processing techniques, which are approved as per organic regulations/standards, can help in the growth of Ayurvedic and food supplement products market.

Author

Narayana Upadhyaya, Aditi Organic Certifications Pvt Ltd, Bengaluru.