1. Agriculture World

APEDA Plans to Roll-Out ‘Organic Aadhaar’ for Farmers to Remove Bogus Data

The idea is to create an identity for the farmer for the organic certification process based on Personal Aadhar and ULPIN. According to the sources, the data element of Organic Aadhaar will become the deep foundation for the integrity of India's organic agriculture.

Shivam Dwivedi

After taking action against errant certification agencies, APEDA is now considering implementing "Organic Aadhaar" for farmers engaged in organic farming under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) to eliminate the possibility of bogus enrollment.

"We are actively considering it because we want to take all necessary steps to ensure that India's organic products remain among the most preferred in the global market," said M Angamuthu, Chairman of the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

The European Commission and Switzerland have recognized NPOP standards for production and accreditation of unprocessed plant products as equivalent to their respective country standards. Organic products certified by accredited certification bodies in India are accepted by European importing countries. Negotiations are underway with South Korea, Taiwan, Canada, and Japan to obtain similar recognition.

However, some instances of chemical residues were discovered in organic sesame exported to Europe last year, prompting India and the EU to take action (high-risk classification, suspension, and penalty) against certification agencies. Later, India's organic cotton exports were also jeopardized due to alleged data from some phoney farmers' groups.

Every plot of land in the country now has a 14-digit identification number assigned by the government. Last year, the Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) scheme was launched in ten states and will soon be rolled out across the country. According to official sources, this could also become a powerful tool for identifying organic land.

The idea is to create an identity for the farmer for the organic certification process based on Personal Aadhar and ULPIN. According to the sources, the data element of Organic Aadhaar will become the deep foundation for the integrity of India's organic agriculture. "Organic Aadhaar combined with Tracenet will create a robust system for effectively planning and monitoring policy measures," Angamuthu said.

Tracenet system, which was launched in 2009, provides information on products exported from the country. Details about the farmer, his land, and the inputs used in the production of the product are made available through the system for products exported from India. APEDA established an expert committee in June 2021 to strengthen and simplify organic agriculture.

"Organic Aadhaar is similar to a voter ID card in that it will provide the farmer in a growers group with exclusive protection of organic status and income." This will protect his rights to sell the produce at a higher price while maintaining his organic status. If implemented, its impact will be felt in the coming years, as it will elevate NPOP to a higher organic standard on the global map," said S Chandrasekaran, a trade policy analyst.

As of March 31, 2021, the total area under organic certification (registered under NPOP) was 43.39 lakh hectares. This includes 26.58 lakh hectares of cultivable land and another 16.81 lakh hectares set aside for wild harvesting. In 2020-21, India produced 34.96 lakh tonnes of certified organic products like oilseeds, sugarcane, millets, cotton, pulses, tea, coffee, fruits, vegetables, and spices.

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