India’s meagre share in global organic trade a concern: Parliamentary panel

New Delhi, Dec 11 (PTI): Expressing concern over India’s meagre share in the global organic trade, a parliamentary panel has recommended setting up of demarcated Organic Production Zones with the required processing facilities and creation of effective product brands to boost exports. India, as on March, 2019, has 3.40 million hectare of area under organic farming, the ninth largest in the world besides having the highest number of organic farmers, according to a report of the Standing Committee on Commerce tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.
Taking serious note of lack of effective market linkages resulting in low prices for organic products, the committee advocated immediate launch and implementation of e-Organic Bazar Portal to enable an expanded and assured market for organic products benefitting the farmers. It has also recommended building up market intelligence to remove impediments being faced by exporters in procurement of organic products from farmers and processors.
To expand the area under organic farming, the panel favoured incentives for developing required infrastructure, setting up of processing units and acquisition of certification equipment. Lauding Sikkim for totally going organic, it suggested that farmers in the state be given the amount saved on the subsidies offered on chemical fertilizers and urea by way of subsidies on key inputs like bio-fertilizers and organic manure to cut cost of production of organic products.
Noting that the North-East has the potential to emerge as the organic hub of the country, the panel called for creation of robust value chain and financial support for organic farmers in the region. It said that other hilly, tribal and border areas besides arid zones need to be focused to incentivise organic farming.
It recommended that organic farmers be organised into clusters to enhance their bargaining power, and also called for a comprehensive and inclusive policy framework to enable focused efforts for expansion of organic farming. This will address infrastructure deficit related to organic farming besides evolving uniform standards across the country and creating wide network of certification agencies for affordable certification. “The lack of a steady and sustainable market along with poor linkages is a major challenge to organic farmers for getting a fair and remunerative price for their produce,” the panel said in its report.
It also expressed concern over India’s modest share in the global organic trade despite having the highest number of organic farmers and the 9th largest area in the world under organic farming, and has made several far reaching recommendations to boost organic exports and to ensure remunerative price to farmers. Stressing on quality and credibility of organic products as critical for boosting exports through positive perception, the committee suggested creation of effective ‘organic product brands’ to prevent spurious fly by night exporters from exporting poor quality products. The committee noted that “Indian organic market is highly unorganised offering no proper marketing linkages to organic farmers.”
In the report, the panel has identified issues hindering growth of organic farming which include small size land-holdings, high cost of inputs like bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides and organic manure, weak market linkages, lack of awareness, inadequate and costly certification, poor infrastructure, negative perception about quality of organic exports from the country, among others. A total of 17 lakh metric tonne of organic products were produced in the country during 2017-18. Organic exports from the country during 2018-19 were 6.40 lakh MT with a value of Rs 5,150 crore accounting for 0.55 per cent of global organic trade.
As per a survey, the total area under organic farming in 181 countries is 698 lakh hectare accounting for 1.40 per cent of total agricultural area while 3 per cent of total cultivable area in India is under organic farming. Global organic trade has increased in the last 20 years from USD 15 billion to USD 90 billion. India is the second largest exporter of organic products in Asia after China with oil cake/meal and oil seeds being the lead export items.