Improving Farming Prospects with Organic Certification

india organic usdaThe term organic is used widely in the context of farming. But do farmers truly understand the potential of an organic certification?

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.

Organic Farming Believed to Improve Crop Yields

Resource-conserving methods and organic farming is believed to yield better crops for small farms. A study also found that organic farming is linked to better income and food security. Although the study needs to be backed by extensive evidence, Steve Franzel, an agricultural economist working with the World Agroforestry Centre reported that, “The findings show at the farm level it [organic farming] appears to be very positive – more than many people think.”

The debate between conventional and organic farming

In an environment of rising greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs, the sustainability of the conventional farming methods is called to question. Chemical dependent farming leaves residual pesticides in the soil, reducing the biodiversity of the area and causing soil erosion.

A possible solution for this scenario would be to use sustainable farming practices including, conservation tillage, integrated pest and nutrient management, agroforestry, water harvesting, aquaculture and livestock integration.

The ORCA review

ORCA or Resource-conserving farming was reviewed through a case study that looked at 31 farms, each farm smaller than 7 hectares, in Africa and South America that switched to ORCA farming. The crop yield, food security and income rose in more than half the farms. The more mixed results came from farmers who switched from modern chemicals to organic products.

This switch from conventional to ORCA was more beneficial to farmers who had organic market access. With ORCA farming, farmers can easily adopt to the changing market and also farming conditions.

But Franzel is vary of advocating ORCA farming as he says, “What is missing is hard data on performance : there are so few case studies analyzing objectively what is going on.” While it is evident that organic farming may be holistically beneficial, the debate rages on without complete scientific data backing organic farming.

India Follows the Organic Route

Coriander powder-horzOrganic produce in India is gaining more devout followers with health consciousness on the rise. The online and retail presence of stores that carry chemical-free produce has been slowly but surely been increasing. The increasing demand is not only from the local markets but also from international markets.

Tracing the rise of the organic movement

TechSci Research conducted a study called “India Organic Food Market Forecast and Opportunities, 2017”, according to which the Indian organic food market is expected to grow at a CAGR of nearly 19% between 2012 and 2017.

Growing food without chemicals

The term organic immediately rings up rupee signs in the mind. The association with cost is attributed to the extensive, meticulous and labor intensive process of agriculture without the use of chemicals at any stage. The land used for such farming should be certified and the certification process is long and tedious. With 4.2 million hectares of farm land certified for organic use, India is well on its way to becoming a giant in the global organic market.

The price of good health

Supporters of organic produce claim that the benefits of eating chemical free food will foster good health. The relative high cost is definitely a consideration that cannot be overlooked. The cost and health considerations are definitely contributors to the growth of the market in metropolitan cities like Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Delhi, Gurgaon and Mumbai.

India set to outsource farming land?

International contracts for organic farming maybe the next step given the ready availability of land in India. The European, Japanese and US markets are on the lookout for cheaper organic produce as the farming and labor is expensive and fertile land is not easily available locally.

Karan Chechi, research director at TechSci Research, a global management consulting firm, was quoted as saying, “The availability of different types of organic products, less dependency on chemical fertilizers, increasing government initiatives for promoting organic farming and increasing investments by corporate giants are likely to push the market for organic foods in India.”

The study conducted by TechSci investigates the future potential of the organic market in India through statistics, industry behavior trends and information on market structure. The study also includes demand forecasting and organic food market projections. The study is a good starting point for investors and business owners as it aids the decision making process.

How to Live an Organic Lifestyle

Black Pepper powder-horzEverybody knows that living a healthy life is important. The good things it can do to your own mind, body and soul has been talked about much. But why do you need to live an organic lifestyle? Well, it can do a lot of good things to you. It also does protect the environment and the earth we inhabit in the process. More people choosing to lead an organic lifestyle means we are leaving the planet a lot healthier.

It does not take much to lead a simple, yet effective organic lifestyle. Here are some simple changes you can think about adding to your daily regimen.

Eat organic

Organic food is the first thing that comes to any person’s mind when you think about the word ‘organic’. It is often said that you will become what you eat. If you eat organic produce, may be you can avoid getting a lot of poisons into your system. When you chose to eat organic, you are supporting a large system which will eventually help reduce the negative impact pesticides and harmful chemicals can have on our planet earth.

Avoid buying chemicals

Cleanliness, germ killing and pesticides are way too overrated. You can opt for natural options rather than using harmful chemicals in your household. Think about vinegar or baking soda rather than the phenyls you use to clean your house. Think about natural mosquito repellents. Keep the surroundings clean to avoid roaches instead of spraying roach killers all over the place.

Use organic personal hygiene products

It is not easy to give up on your favorite shampoo or soap that you got used to over years. Think about the harm it can do to your skin or your hair over time, considering the amount of heavy chemicals added. Consider buying a herbal organic product instead. You are not as stinky or dirty as you think, really.

Use public transport

Save as much energy resources as you can. Make a choice about using the public transport. Or try using a bike.