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Steps to get Organic Certification
Five Steps to Get an Organic Certification
Organic farming has steadily grown these days due to increased awareness of producing and eating healthy foods. From small scale farmers to large scale farmers, everyone is now trying to get organic certification for their produce. One reason is that customers prefer to buy organically certified foods these days than processed or chemical-based foods. Every country has its own set of organic farming guidelines and standards. In India, the NPOP (National Program for Organic Production) and its regulatory body APEDA (Agricultural and Processed food products Export Development Authority) has laid down the guidelines for organic certification. These guidelines need to be strictly followed by the farmers to get organic certification for their products.
- If you are planning for organic farming, the land must be converted for organic farming.
- All inputs to the farm must be natural.
- No genetically modified inputs or irradiation technology will not be allowed.
- The integrity of physical, biological, and mechanical processes must be maintained at all times.
- Contamination of produce from nearby farms or other means should not be present.
- Sustainable practices must be followed on the farm.
Step 1: Learn and develop an organic system plan
The foundation of an organic certification process starts with the organic system plan. As in any project, planning is the first thing you need to take care of. Farmers and producers begin by learning about the organic production requirements, the DO and DONTs of organic farming and certification, etc. Begin with a plan write-up that outlines the production practices, handling systems, use of fertilizers, etc. Select an approved certifying agent and fill in the form and submit an application with appropriate fees.
Step 2. Implement the action plan and have it reviewed by the certifying agent
Once the farmer applies, the organic certification body provides standards and operational documents to the farmer. This is an agreement between the certification body and the farmer.
Step 3. Prepare for inspection
Once you have applied for organic certification, you can expect a certifying agent/ inspector to visit your farm for inspection. The inspections differ in scope depending on the farm or the facility.
Step 4. Review of the inspection report
A certifying agent will now review the inspection report, which also includes an assessment of the risk of contamination from prohibited materials. For this, he might even take the samples of the produce.
Step 5. Decision making of organic certification
If the operations handled comply with the guidelines and standards mentioned by the certification body, the certifying agent would issue an organic certificate to the farmer, listing which products can be sold as organic from that operation. If any modifications are done in the practices, they should be informed to the authority to maintain the certification. Hence, it is advised to have an inspection done at least once a year.
Though the entire process of organic certification involves a lot of paperwork and record-keeping, the end-result is worth putting in the effort. An organic certification adds a lot of value to the product, not just in India, but also in Europe and North America.