Organic Farming Certification In India

Introduction to Organic Farming Certification: Organic farming is finding its use in India due to various factors. Firstly, it is practiced in areas by farmers as a traditional way of life because the input to farming is very low or they cannot bear the expenses of high input farming. Secondly, it is being adopted by farmers who understand the ill effects of conventional farming and have had low returns for their investment. Thirdly, farmers who have analyzed the emerging market trend and premiums associated with organic products have considered this farming method. The third category of farmers is certified and attracts the market attention. Whereas the remaining two are uncertified.

Organic Farming Certification.

The area under organic farming increased by 29 times since 2003-2004. Therefore, the country has put forward an internationally acclaimed certification process to assure the quality of the organic produce for export, import and domestic use. The regulatory mechanism is defined by the National Program for Organic Production (NPOP). It has formulated two different acts for export and domestic use. The export quality requirements are looked after by the National Program on Organic Production which is notified by Foreign Trade Development and Regulation Act (FTDR). So, now an organic product certified by an Indian accredited agency can be exported to Europe, Sweden and USA without any further certification processes. To check the requirements of domestic use the NPOP is notified by the Agriculture Produce Grading, Marking and Certification Act (APGMCA). Altogether there are 20 accredited certification agencies in India of which 16 are managed by the private sector and 4 are agencies in the public sector.


The growing demand for organic products has stimulated the growth of organic produce. To address this demand the quality of produce has to be checked and fraud has to be prevented. Therefore certifying a product assures it of its quality. It facilitates the sale of right organic product to the consumers. The organic farming certification is done only when the product meets the minimum requirements set up by the national government. Organic certification applies to all business in the food production chain such as seed suppliers, retailers, food processors, etc. every stage of the produce is certified so as to avoid the presence of chemicals while production and packing. The process also keeps a record of production and sale, supervises the farmlands and aims to distinguish between the certified and non-certified products.

The organic farming certification process for a farm these days has gone beyond the simple farming activities. There are a number of other operations which a farmer has to undertake to obtain a certificate for his/her farm. Initially the farmer has to carry out a detailed study of the organic standards, i.e. what can be included in the farming methodology such as storage. The farmers have to meet the standards for production outlined by the certification agency which may include modifying or changing certain aspects like suppliers. The farmer also needs to have detailed written information about his farm such as soil and water test reports, farm history and current status of the farm. A plan has to be drafted by the farmer with the details about the farming techniques used in his farm such as location, seed sources, pest control measures, harvesting methods, storage facilities etc. An inspection is scheduled annually to review the details of the farm. The farmer is expected to pay an annual fee to the certifying agency for obtaining the certificate and to make his produce available in the market. There is also a possibility of inspection any time suddenly during the year, so the farmer has to maintain an updated record of his activities.

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In India the certifying agencies and acts have been set up and are being governed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. The National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) notified under the Foreign Trade and Development Act (FTDR) aims to encourage farmers for the production of organic substances, issues certificates in accordance to the standards outlined by the agency, evaluates the certification programs for organic farming as per the rules of the agency and to accredit the programs undertaken by the agencies.

The whole process of organic farming certification in India is a structured approach where there are several committees and organizations working under the Government of India. The Ministry of commerce and industry is at the apex level and a steering committee is formed from among the members of the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority. This steering committee formulates the national policy of accreditation and standards for organic products. The committee also designs the rules and regulations for the use of the organic certification mark.

The procedure for obtaining organic farming certification in India has several guidelines. Initially the person with a farmland has to submit an application in a prescribed format to the agency. A certain amount of fee is paid to carry out the procedures and field verification. Prior to this the person applying for the organic certification has to make sure that his farm meets the required standards outlined by the NPOP. These sets of principles are: To convert the farm to organic farming, provide natural inputs to the farm, complete boycott of irradiation technology, maintaining integrity of farming techniques, external contamination of the farm should not be present and the procedures used for farming should be of sustainable standards. There are some additional requirements which the applicant must adhere to before getting an organic certification:

  • Updating his annual production plan report.
  • Allow the certification inspectors to carry out on-site inspections with access to production material, land and operations.
  • Records of the farm and its operations for a period of 5 years are maintained such that the representatives of the agency can review the records before certification of the land.
  • The fee has to be paid to the accreditation agency during the specified time limit.
  • The authorities have to be informed if there are any changes made during the production such as use of prohibited substances, etc. that are against the standards set up by the NPOP.


The entire process of organic farming certification can be jotted down into some general steps. All the accredited agencies under the NPOP follow this process.

  • The farmer has to obtain an application and submit it duly filled back to the accredited organic certification agency.
  • A document consisting of the standards and operations to be followed is provided by the certification agency to the farmer.
  • An agreement where the roles and commitments are outlined is made between the farmer and the organic certification agency.
  • The fee is defined by the organic certification agency.
  • The documents of the farmer are audited.
  • Inspection of the field by an internal quality manager and an external inspector is carried out and documentation is done.
  • Inspections and audits are again carried out to meet the standards outlined by the NPOP.
  • Reports are prepared by the field inspector.
  • The entire report is reviewed by a team (reviewing body).
  • Final certification decisions are made.

The application issued by the organic certification agency requires the following information from the farmers. So it is highly important that this set of data is ready with the farmers before filing the application:

  • Organic production plan.
  • The identity and address details of the applicant.
  • Name, outcome and copy of records of any previously applied organic certifications and the reason for applying.
  • Registration fee, one time inspection fee and one time, travel cost have to be paid along with the application.
  • Any important extra information that specifies the compliance with the standards can be mentioned in the application.

The inspection of the farmland is the most crucial part of the organic certification process. The inspection method can be summarized as follows:

  • The field is visited by the external inspector and a review of facilities, records and accounts is carried out.
  • The estimation of produce from the farm is prepared and calculations are made based on the input/ output norms of the agency.
  • The entire production system is assessed and the farmer or the applicant is interviewed.
  • Risk from the neighboring farms is assessed.
  • Thorough inspection is carried out with regard to the use of genetically modified and other farm inputs.
  • Soil test reports are analyzed and a clear inspection is done on the practice in the farm.

During inspection the authorities may check for prohibited substances and if in doubt, they may send soil, water, seed, plant tissue and product to sample test. These samples are tested at the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited ISO laboratories. The cost of the sample test is borne by the applicant/ farmer. After the inspection the entire report is sent to the evaluator and is valued within a specified time limit. The evaluator can ask for any information during the evaluation process and this should be addressed by the applicant with a suitable explanation.

The organic farming certification agency has a fee structure based on its location or state. The minimum expenditure incurred by a farmer for getting an organic certification is expected to vary from 25,000 INR to 40,000 INR. If a group of farmers apply for certification then expenses may go higher and vary between 40,000 INR to 1, 00,000 INR. The time required by the certifying agency in India depends on what type of land is being certified. If it is a farm then minimum of 24 months is required before organic certification, for orchards it is 36 months, for dairy farms it is 90 days, for food processing centers it is 1 day and unused land it is 12 months.


  • The first principle is conversion of the farm. Conversion period is defined as the time gap between the start of organic procedure and certification of crops. Within three years the entire farm including livestock has to be converted as per the defined standards.
  • The maintenance of organic structure has to be done such that the converted farm and livestock do not switch back to conventional methods.
  • The seeds used for farming have to be organic and are specified by the certification authority. Upon non availability of organic seeds, untreated material can be used, but the use of genetically modified seeds is prohibited.
  • The conversion period is minimum three years, but can be extended by the certification program based on the environment and other past factors.
  • It is recommended that diversity is maintained to improve the soil quality, organic matter, microbial activity etc.
  • Synthesized fertilizers shall not be permitted to be used in the farms. Only biodegradable animal and plant origin can be used.
  • Pesticides and disease control products manufactured from local plants and micro organism are allowed. Thermal and physical weed control methods are allowed. The use of chemicals is prohibited.
  • Items used for covering the farm can be products made from polyethylene and polypropylene. The polychloride products are restricted.
  • Soil erosion has to be prevented, water depletion controlled, cleaning the land by burning organic matter should be minimized and primary forest area should not be cleared.
  • Harvests from wild farms will be certified only if found stable and sustainable. The collection of produce has to be done away from polluted area and contamination.

The accreditation agency issues the Certificate of Registration, Transaction Certificate and Product Certificate to the applicants upon compliance with the National Program for Organic Production. The decision made by the certification agency is final. If the standards are not met, the applicant is informed about the refusal of certification by outlining proper reasons. The reports are given back to the applicant upon rejection of certification, which can be corrected and submitted back to the certification agency or an appeal can be filed. Organic Certificate for farming is issued only for a period of 3 years, after which it has to be renewed.

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  1. Sir/madam, we are cultivating NMK-1 golden casturd apple in our 3.00 acres field in organic model. I would like to get organic certification. Please asking support in this regard.

    • U can contact Andhra Pradesh State Organic Products Certification Authority located in guntur for certification of your farm land as Organic


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