On a tardy trail: State of organic farming in India

Area under organic cultivation is 2% of the net sown area in the country

By Amit Khurana, Vineet Kumar
Published: Tuesday 08 September 2020

Organic farming is in a nascent stage in India. About 2.78 million hectare of farmland was under organic cultivation as of March 2020, according to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. This is two per cent of the 140.1 million ha net sown area in the country.

A few states have taken the lead in improving organic farming coverage, as a major part of this area is concentrated only in a handful of states. Madhya Pradesh tops the list with 0.76 million ha of area under organic cultivation — that is over 27 per cent of India’s total organic cultivation area.

The top three states — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra — account for about half the area under organic cultivation. The top 10 states account for about 80 per cent of the total area under organic cultivation.

Only a fraction of area is converted under organic

Sikkim is the only Indian state to have become fully organic so far. A majority of the states have only a small part of their net sown area under organic farming. Even the top three states that account for the largest area under organic cultivation — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra — have only around 4.9, 2.0 and 1.6 per cent of their net sown area under organic farming respectively.

A few states such as Meghalaya, Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Goa and Sikkim have 10 per cent or more of their net sown area under organic cultivation.  All these states, except Goa, are in hilly regions.

Union Territories such as Delhi, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Chandigarh also have 10 per cent or more of their net sown area under organic cultivation, but their agricultural area is very small. Almost all other states have less than 10 per cent of their net sown area under organic.

Organic farming coverage in states and Union Territories

Policy initiatives do not mean greater organic coverage

Low organic farming coverage prevails in several states, despite at least 20 of them having a policy or a scheme with regard to organic farming. States like Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh have expressed their desire to become fully organic or natural-farming states.

Apart from the states with 100 per cent organic ambition, there are only a select few that have set specific measurable targets.

Some states have had a policy for several years but have not been able to cover much area in absolute terms under organic cultivation. For example, Karnataka and Kerala have had an organic policy since 2004 and 2010 respectively, but have only 1.1 and 2.7 per cent of their net sown area organically cultivated.

On the other hand, states such as Rajasthan, which formulated their policy recently, have covered a significant area. This also indicates that the conversion to organic area in states may have started much before the actual policy enactment.

Currently, only around 12 states — Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Telangana, Sikkim, Bihar, Karnataka, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh — have their own state organic certification agencies accredited by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

Some states have either developed or are still in the process of forming organic brands such as MP Organic, Organic Rajasthan, Nasik Organic, Bastar Naturals, Kerala Naturals, Jaivik Jharkhand, Naga Organic, Organic Arunachal, Organic Manipur, Tripura Organic and Five Rivers by Punjab.

Organic coverage largely under NPOP

India introduced the organic farming policy in 2005. The 2.78 million ha was covered under organic farming in India is about two per cent of the 140.1 million ha net sown area in the country.

Of this, 1.94 million ha is under National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP); 0.59 million ha under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY); 0.07 million ha under Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Regions (MOVCDNER) and 0.17 million ha under state schemes or non-schemes.

This shows that NPOP scheme covers about 70 per cent of the organic area of the country, of which 30 per cent is under conversion.

NPOP scheme, which started in 2001, covers about 70 per cent of the organic area of the country of which 30 per cent is under conversion. PKVY and MOVCDNER schemes started in 2015-16 and cover 21.5 per cent and 2.6 per cent of the total organic area in the country.

The remaining 6.1 per cent of area under organic cultivation is either under a state scheme or not related to any scheme. During 2015-16 to 2018-19, around 96 per cent of total certified organic food production was under NPOP certification and the remaining four per cent was under Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) of certification.

India’s top organic state Madhya Pradesh has about 90 per cent of its organic area under NPOP. The top three states — Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan — collectively have over 80 per cent of their organic area under NPOP. Only a few states like Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Telangana and Bihar covered more by PKVY than NPOP.

 Even though India has very small organic area under cultivation, in terms of number of organic farmers it is being ranked first. India has over 1.9 million farmers as of March 2020, which is 1.3 per cent of 146 million agricultural landholders.

In addition, there are farmers who are not certified and hence not counted, especially by-default organic farmers in hilly, tribal and rain-fed regions.

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