1. Agriculture World

Organic Certification Firms are No Longer Certifying 'High-Risk' Products

Control Union Inspections and Certifications India informed clients earlier this month that "the management has decided not to continue with organic certification of cotton, soyabean, sesame, sugar, and moringa powder that fall under high risk either during production, processing, handling, storing, trading, or exporting."

Shivam Dwivedi
Soyabean Oil
Soyabean Oil

Some organic certification organizations, such as Control Union and Lacon Quality Certification, have decided to withdraw crops such as soyabean, cotton, and sesame from their operations in India, citing them as 'high risk.' Growers' groups will look for alternative certification agencies to continue offering organic products as a result of the decision.

Control Union Inspections and Certifications India informed clients earlier this month that "the management has decided not to continue with organic certification of cotton, soyabean, sesame, sugar, and moringa powder that fall under high risk either during production, processing, handling, storing, trading, or exporting."

It stated that the decision was made in response to "articles published in various media" concerning organic Agri certification in India and subsequent classification as a high-risk certification body.

The company requested that its clients dealing with these products switch to other certification bodies or withdraw the products from certification before the start of the next kharif season.

Similarly, Lacon Quality Certification has asked its clients to notify them of their acceptance by April 26th, as the company has decided not to certify products "that are considered high risk by accreditation bodies" in order to continue serving operators who meet organic regulatory requirements. Cotton, sesame, soyabean, and their by-products have been classified as high risk by Lacon.

Binay Kumar Choudhury, chairman of Control Union Inspections & Certifications India, declined to comment, and Bobby Issac, director of Lacon Quality, could not be reached.

Control Union India was recently delisted from Category A under the NPOP-EEC equivalency agreement and classified as a high-risk certification body. To regulate organic products, India has the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), and Europe has the European Economic Community (EEC).

Thousands of organic farmers from nine districts in Madhya Pradesh sought Centre recognition last month to continue chemical-free farming, amid reports of action against certification agencies for using fictitious growers' groups.

Because the certification process is more expensive and beyond the means of a small farmer, traders and businesses used to organise growers' groups and register them with certification bodies in order to export end products.

Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Commerce, recently told Parliament that the government had taken action against several certification bodies. "In 2013, Natural Organic Certification Agro Private Limited's accreditation under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) was suspended for six months."

“Similarly, Bio-Cert India Private Limited's accreditation was terminated under NPOP in 2015, and Intertech India Private Limited's accreditation was suspended for six months and a penalty of Rs. 6 lakh was imposed in 2019. "There is a long list of such certification bodies," Patel said in response to supplementary questions in the Lok Sabha in March.

"We will not jeopardize the nation's reputation." There are certification agencies or bodies that are accredited by the National Accreditation Board and certify organic products, awarding them the 'India Organic' label. If there is a complaint, APEDA investigates it. If there are any irregularities, malpractices, or procedural lapses, we suspend the accreditation of those certification bodies to ensure that these standards, which are in accordance with international standards, are never jeopardized," the minister had stated.

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