Organic certification is the procedure for verifying that the products conform to certain standards. In case of organic products, it is primarily the acknowledgement that the products have been produced according to the applicable organic crop and animal husbandry standards.
Why Is It Important?
• Organic certification helps in building trust between consumers and organic farmers;
• The certification mark ‘Organic’ is the only means to differentiate between certified organic and conventional foods.
• Labels and certification marks help a consumer recognize trustworthy organic products easily;
• Organic certification and the logo are important marketing tools; and
• Organic certification helps in getting comparatively better price.
– NPOP – National Programme for Organic Production, India
– USDA–NOP – United States Department of Agriculture – National Organic Program
– JAS – Japanese Agricultural Standards
– EC 834/2007 – Council of the European Union
– IFOAM Basic Standards – International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, Germany
– Codex Organic Standards – Codex Alimentarius Commission
General Organic Certification Process
The certification process of most of the certification bodies follows a general five step process. Please note that specific steps required for each international standard will be stipulated by them and should be contacted individually.
Step 1. Registration and Application
The applicant must register first with certification bodies who, in turn, will provide the applicant with an application packet. The packet contains
- the application form;
- organic system plan;
- field history sheet (for crop indent, grower group, wild harvest);
- farm product and inventory list;
- organic product profile;
- and grower group questionnaire (for crop production grower group).
The organic system plan requires information about
- record keeping;
- production detail;
- detail of input use (for fertility, and pest and disease management);
- preventive measures;
- and methods used for prevention of contamination and commingling.
The organic system plan must also include attachments, such as the facility map, soil and water test, and product label presently in use or to be used in the future.
Step 2. Application Review For obtaining organic certification,
Once the complete application is received, it will be reviewed on the basis of applicable standards. In case any incomplete information/noncompliance is found, or any additional information is needed, the applicant will be contacted. Once the required information is gathered, or noncompliance is resolved, an on-site audit is planned on a mutually agreed date and time.
Step 3. Inspection
On the prescribed date, a trained Organic Inspector, who is familiar with the applicant’s type of operation, will reach the applicant’s facility. The inspector will thoroughly examine each method of production and documents of applicant’s operation and facility for verification of applicant’s plan in an accurate description of organic standard compliance. During exit interview, the inspector will summarize the findings and will ask for any additional information, if required. Inspection normally takes from half a day to 3 days, depending on the complexity of operations. After submission of the inspector’s report, it is reviewed to evaluate compliance with the applicable standards.
Step 4. Secondary Review
During the secondary review, the applicant is contacted if more information is required. After receipt of the report from the inspector, the secondary review generally takes 2–4 days.
Step 5. Certification Decision
After completion of the secondary review, the file is sent to the standards head office for the final decision, which takes 1–2 weeks. After receiving the final decision from the head office, the applicant will receive the Organic Certificate, along with a cover letter citing the conditions for awarding the certificate. The Organic Certificate contains the name of the applicant’s company, address, category of certification, and list of certified organic products. The entire certification process may take about 4–12 weeks, depending upon the documents and cooperation provided.