The Telegraph
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Farmer rush to get organic stamp

Patna: More than a dozen farmers have approached the agriculture department to get their produce certified as organic.

The department has signed an agreement with Sikkim State Organic Certification Agency (SSOCA) for issuing certificates to farmers who use organic method for cultivation.

Sources in the agriculture department said so far 15 such farmers had approached the department to collect details about the certification process.

Most of these farmers belong to Nalanda district or the areas falling along the southern bank of the Ganga where the government has decided to develop an organic corridor.

The Sikkim agency's quality manager, Sudhir Giri, confirmed the development. "During my stay in Patna I had a series of meetings with some of the farmers or representatives of farmers' groups who are doing organic farming. I briefed them about the information which they needed to provide first for initiating the certification process."

Giri said based on the information provided, the agency's inspectors would undertake field visits to assess the ground reality and also guide the farmers about the steps they need to take for meeting the criteria to become organic farmers.

"I am planning to come to Bihar in a fortnight and based on the information provided by the interested farmers, field visits would be undertaken," Giri said.

The agency's chief executive officer, Yashoda Pradhan, said that after conducting the first field visit, three to four months' time is given to farmers to meet the parameters of organic farming.

Once the adherence is honoured, the agency's inspectors undertake field visits to cross-check the farming practices on the ground and then the first certificate (C1) is issued.

This will certify that the farmer concerned is converting to organic farming.

"One year after C1 certification, the agency's officials would visit the identified farmers' fields once again and after being satisfied with the adherence to the organic protocol, the second certificate, C2, is issued. The final certificate is issued one year after issuance of C2 in case farmers adhere to organic farming norms," Pradhan said.

The benefit of certification is that it would help the farmers in marketing their produce as organic products which fetch better prices.

Sikkim is the first organic state in the country. The SSOCA is an accredited agency for issuing such certificates.

The Bihar government too has set up its agency - Bihar State Seed and Organic Certification Agency - but it has not yet got accreditation so far.

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