National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP)
National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) is a comprehensive accreditation ecosystem by the Government of India, that provides an institutional framework for the execution of domestic standards for organic production. The NPOP is expected to play a critical role in the coming years with the rapid growth in demand for organic products.
Environment friendly agricultural practices have been prevalent in India for centuries. Vedic farming has been by definition organic – in accordance with Natural Law and in recognition of the fundamental linkages between man and nature. This has been detailed in Vedic texts like Krishi Parashar, Brihat Samhita and Manusmriti. The agricultural technology of that era utilised natural biological/mechanical pest control methods & green manuring.
In fact, this age-old wisdom continues to inspire and guide farming communities in parts of India. Therefore, the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, came up with the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) to provide an institutional framework for the execution of domestic standards for organic production. Launched in 2001, the programme offers information on systems, criteria and procedure for accreditation of inspection and certification bodies and also the national organic logo. The government has come up with a farmer group centric certification system to make the certification system affordable and accessible without the need for third party agency.
What is organic agriculture?
According to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, health, ecology, fairness, and care are the principles from which organic agriculture grows and develops. It defines it thus:
Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines tradition, innovation, and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and good quality of life for all involved.
The NPOP standards are expected to play a critical role in the coming years, as converting agriculture into an organized business with the farmer as an entrepreneur is key to the second green revolution in a country like India, where agriculture is a way of life and the government seeks to double the incomes of farmers.
The NPOP certification has equivalence with organic food regulations of European Union and Switzerland and a recognition agreement on conformity assessment with USDA. According to APEDA, “NPOP certification is a system of process certification, wherein an independent organization reviews entire production, processing, handling, storage and transport etc to ensure the compliance of organic standards.”
Some of the cultivation practices that are reviewed under NPOP include land management, usage of inputs, use of machinery, pest management and post-harvest in crops, rearing practices compatible to their natural behaviour, welfare of animals, avoidance of synthetic feed additives and hormones and limited usage of allopathic drugs and antibiotics in animal products and processing and handling through document review and on-site physical inspection.
These organic crop production standards revolve around crop production planning, nutrient management, conversion requirement, landscape, diversity in crop production, contamination control & management plan, soil and water conservation, collection of non-cultivated material of plant origin/forest produces, and disease management for agricultural crops. Similarly, organic standards have been set for livestock, apiculture, aquaculture, food processing, animal feed processing, mushroom production, seaweed, aquatic plants, and green house.
How to get organic certification?
An organization needs to meet the following basic requirements:
(i) Application as per the prescribed format by APEDA;
(ii) Copy of registration certificate indicating the firm’s legal status;
(iii) Memorandum & structure of the organization;
(iv) Audited balance sheet copy;
(v) Specified accreditation fees;
(vi) A copy of the operational and quality manual as per the ISO 17065 standards;
(vii) A copy of the operating procedure, format and checklists standard;
(viii) A copy of authority letter from the firm for the person assigned as a signing authority.
After fulfilling these basic requirements, the company needs to apply for the NPOP certification and pay the prescribed fees. The application will then be reviewed and followed by an inspection. This is followed by the issuance of NPOP Certificate if everything is found to be correct.