Organic certification and international markets
A simple certification can open access to international markets for farmers. Organic certification is provided by the Tamil Nadu Organic Certification Department located in Coimbatore, following strict protocol recognized by international organic certification bodies. The quality manager at TNOCD, P Palanikumar believes that awareness about the certification is slowly catching up. According to his records there is over 22877 acres of certified organic farm land in Tamil Nadu alone.
A peek at the certification process
Organic certification is proof of authenticity not only in the local markets but also in the global markets. Dr. Tom P Silas, an evaluator with TNOCD said that the organization was “one of the seven government certifying bodies in India accredited by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), which functions under the ministry of commerce and industry.”
The minimum period of conversion from a conventional farm to an organic farm according to the certification process is three years. The conversion period is closely monitored by the authorities. Crops irrigated solely through rain water and groundwater are eligible for organic certification. Adherence to the National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) guidelines is essential in order to receive certification.
The organic certification is valid for one whole year, after which it has to be renewed to maintain the international standards. The certification process includes sample and field verification amidst other procedures.
Although the certification process can be tedious and often daunting, the return on investment is significantly high. In order to help farmers, TNOCD has centers in Madurai, Vellore, Coimbatore and Madurai. The phone number for TNOCD is 0422-2435080.