Sneak Peak: India Cotton in Farm & Fiber Report
Written by: Prabha Nagarajan - Regional Director for India, Textile Exchange
Indian Organic Cotton… Integrity Guaranteed
Prabha Nagarajan, TEs Regional Director for India, provides an excerpt from the India Section of this year’s Farm & Fiber Report, due out later this month. Prabha tells us how there have been major factors influencing the growth rationalization of organic cotton in India... Tighter regulation is one of them.
The Agricultural Produce Export Development Authority of India (APEDA) is a body of the Ministry of Commerce that has been established by the Government of India by an Act of Parliament in 1985. Many functions have been assigned to APEDA, most importantly marketing and export of agricultural products. In 2010/11 APEDA supported India with the export of 86 products to a value of $157.22 million USD. It is pertinent to note that cotton was one of India’s major exports.
Classifying organic cotton, photo courtesy bioRe India
Another critical role for APEDA is to act as the accrediting body and regulator of all third party organic certification in India. APEDA drew up the National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) which was approved in 2001 by the Ministry of Commerce and all agricultural organic production in India is certified to NPOP standards. NPOP has reciprocity with the US National Organic Program (NOP) and the European Union. APEDA has approved 22 Certification Bodies for certifying organic production in India.
Evidently then APEDA has a huge part to play in ensuring that India’s organic production at farm level is done as per the regulations laid down by the NPOP, and that the certifying bodies accredited by them carry out certification with the highest standards. In turn, the Certification Bodies ensure that the organic farming is carried out ethically by the producing groups. As Textile Exchange has always maintained, integrity is everyone’s business and cannot be assigned to just one player in the chain. Every single link in the chain is entrusted with the responsibility of working with integrity.
‘Tracenet’ is a clear example of how India’s accrediting body APEDA responded to the challenge of streamlining and bringing transparency into certification systems. Two years ago there were allegations about loopholes in the systems in India which were being exploited, and duplication of data, especially with reference to cotton. Tracenet is an online traceability system that ensures all data with reference to the certification of a product is entered and monitored, thus making for tighter regulation.
The checks and balances offered by Tracenet have helped in establishing the veracity and authenticity of data capture and have made duplication difficult or easily detectable.
Clean truck, photo courtesy Chetna Organic
Our last Farm & Fiber Report for the production year 2009/10 made mention of the introduction of Tracenet in India and changes in maximum farm group size that was being introduced in India. After ensuring training for all stakeholders, APEDA has made Tracenet mandatory since June 2010. Tracenet received its share of feedback and was lauded and criticized. However it has evidently played a huge role in rationalizing organic cotton production in India, especially in Madhya Pradesh. Our Farm and Fiber report 2010/11 will analyze the varied reasons for India’s huge drop in acreage and production of organic cotton. Though Tracenet is not the sole reason for the drop, even its most critical detractors will not deny that Tracenet stands vindicated.
Correct labeling, photo courtesy Chetna Organic
India is “Country of the Year” at Biofach 2012. One of the key messages that India wants to communicate to the rest of the world when they think of India as an organic producer, is that India is a credible sourcing country. Though India started out as a big producer of organic tea in the early nineties today the basket of export products includes a broad range of products such as the aromatic basmati, spices, medicinal herbs and nutraceuticals, horticultural products, coffee, and edible oils. Cotton continues to play a major role in organic exports accounting for about 45 percent of the total exports (NCOF). Tracenet has certainly contributed in no small way to re establishing the credibility of India’s organic cotton.