There are traditional areas in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, north-eastern states and tribal belts of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and desert districts of Rajasthan which can be transformed to certified organic, it said.
The organic certification has been given under the Large Area Certification (LAC) Scheme of the PGS-India (Participatory Guarantee System) certification programme.
Under LAC, each village in the area is considered as one cluster/group. All farmers with their farmland and livestock need to adhere to the standard requirements and on being verified get certified enmass without the need to go under conversion period. Certification is renewed on annual basis through verification by a process of peer appraisals as per the process of PGS-India.
In a statement, the ministry said it is working to identify traditional organic areas to transform them into certified production hubs.
“The Government of India has certified 14,491 ha of such area under Car Nicobar and Nancowry group of islands in A&N Islands,” it said.
An expert committee has verified their organic status and recommended for declaration of the area as certified organic under the PGS-India certification programme, it said, adding that this area becomes the first large contiguous territory to be conferred with organic certification.
According to the ministry, Car Nicobar and Nancowry group of islands have been traditionally organic for ages. The administration has also banned the sale, purchase and usage of any chemical inputs of genetically modified seeds in these islands.
The administration of Union Territory in collaboration with local communities prepared the island-wise and farmer wise database of land holding, practices being adopted, input usage history among others.
Stating that there are still traditional organic areas in hills, tribal districts, desert and rained areas in India that continue to remain free from chemical input usage, the ministry said, “With little efforts, such traditional/default organic areas can be brought under organic certification almost immediately.”
The ministry said it is, in consultation with states, working to identify such areas, transform them to certified organic and facilitate the marketing of area-specific niche products through branding and labelling.
Additionally, to bring isolated individual farmers to the certified organic fold, the ministry has also launched an organic certification support scheme under PKVY (Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana).
Under the scheme, individual farmers can avail financial assistance for certification under any of the prevailing certification systems of NPOP (National programme for organic production) or PGS-India. Assistance will be available as reimbursement of certification cost directly to certification agencies through the states, the ministry said.
The organic certification will help farmers get direct access to the emerging organic food market of the country.
India now has more than 30 lakh hectare area registered under organic certification and slowly more and more farmers are joining the movement.
As per the international survey report (2021) India ranks at 5th place in terms of area and is at the top in terms of total number of producers (base year 2019), the ministry added.