MP organic cotton farmers want their ‘own’ producer groups to be recognized

Thousands of organic farmers from nine districts of Madhya Pradesh have formed their own ‘local samitis’ and want recognition from the Center to continue farming, amid reports of action against certifying agencies for using clusters of fictional producers. Farmers are also exploring opportunities to sell their products at higher prices.

“APEDA needs to recognize us as separate groups for organic farming to maintain continuity as some traders/companies had organized such groups before,” said Dinesh Yadav, a member of a 25-member group who is came to Delhi earlier this week to meet government officials.

Fictional producers

Thousands of farmers in Barwani, Burhanpur, Dhar, Harda, Jhabua, Alirajpore, Dewas, Khandwa and Khargone districts have practiced organic farming for many years, even when the concept was not developed as a government program . However, as reported Activity area Earlier, Khargone MP Gajendra Patel pointed out the problem of fictitious groups of organic producers listed in the Internal Control System (ICS) mechanism. He had expressed his concern about the exploitation of farmers by a “cotton mafia”.

The ICS mechanism allows farmers to be part of a producer group and obtain the same benefits at lower costs than registering individually under the certification procedure. Unless the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) or certifying agency allows them to move from one group to another maintaining continuity, farmers will lose their status as “producers”. organic”.

Become aware of the implications

Yadav said many farmers, who had consented to become members of producer groups (organized mainly by traders and ginners), became aware of the implications after reading various articles in the media. However, several other farmers were not even aware of the existence of such producer groups, even though they were officially shown to be members of such groups, Yadav said.

We learn that after the problem was highlighted, even some of the certification agencies started to de-recognize the producer groups. For example, earlier this month, APEDA ordered the Palampur-based Global Certification Society not to issue transaction certificates to four producer groups from Khandwa district in MP – Maa Narmada Krushak Samiti, Maa Rukmani Krushak Samiti, Maa Yamini Krushak Samiti and Shri Sant Singha Ji Krushak Samiti.

“If proper policy support and programs are unveiled, India could become one of the largest cooperative movements to strengthen farmers’ hands and increase their incomes. There is potential to develop an ‘Indian organic cotton brand’ similar to Amul in the dairy sector,” said S Chandrasekaran, a New Delhi-based trade policy expert.

New procedure

APEDA in December 2021 had established a new procedure to be followed when transferring producer groups whenever a certification agency is suspended. But, fictitious groups are still being transferred from one certifying agency to another without proper review, sources said.

Minister of State for Trade, Anupriya Patel, said there are several certification bodies against which the government has taken action. “In 2013, there was a suspension of accreditation under the National Organic Program (NPOP) for six months in the case of Natural Organic Certification Agro Private Limited. Similarly, in 2015, in the case of Bio-Cert India Private Limited, the accreditation was terminated under NPOP and in 2019, Intertech India Private Limited was suspended for six months and a fine of ₹6 lakh was imposed. inflicted. There is a long list of such certifying bodies,” Patel told Lok Sabha on Wednesday in response to further questions.

“We do not compromise with the reputation of the nation. There are certifying agencies or bodies that are certified by the National Accreditation Board and they certify organic products and give them the mark “India Organic”. In the event of a complaint, APEDA takes care of it. If there are any irregularities, malpractices or any breach of procedure, we suspend the accreditation of these certification bodies to ensure that these standards which are in harmony with international standards are never compromised‍,” said The Minister.

Citing data from the Department of Textile, the US Department of Agriculture said in a recent report that the country’s organic cotton production will more than double to 8.11 lakh tons in 2020-21, from 3.36 liters. the previous year. Madhya Pradesh is estimated to have produced 3.83 liters compared to 84,701 tonnes in 2019-20.

Published on

March 30, 2022

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