Hyderabad: The new bylaw likely to be introduced by the Food Safety and Standards Association of India (FSSAI), which will determine who can call their produce organic, has come under heavy fire from farmers.
The Participatory Guarantee Systems Organic Council (PGSOC), an all India body that represents millions of farmers, has pointed out that more than 75 per cent of the farming community will be affected and millions of farmers in India may lose their right to call what they grow organic.
In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, the PGSOC said: ‘The norm that will decide who can call their produce organic or will not impact millions of marginal and small farmers negatively and might prove dis-empowering to organic farming”.
The PGSOC also says that the notification purely caters to the commercial aspects of the market and will deprive the council (PGSOC) of its rights and responsibilities, as the very purpose of PGSOC is to bring small and marginal farmers together under a broad umbrella. These farmers constitute more than 75 per cent of the farming community and cannot approach organic markets that are primarily urban middle class based.
P.V. Satish, director, Deccan Development Society, says “On millions of hectares of farming land in India no chemicals are used, so they are authentically organic. Most small and marginal farmers cannot afford chemical agriculture so they are organic by nature. There is a huge population of organic farmers in India who might lose their right to call themselves organic following the introduction of such a law. The government cannot take away their right to call themselves organic; they have been organic farmers since generations.”
Mr Moghalamma, a farmer from Sangareddy district, says “My produce is organic but I need a certification from a third party agency to sell it as organic produce, and for this I need to pay about Rs 25,000. ”
The PGSOC has urged the government not to delegitimise the council but to treat them as the flagship of civil society and a regulator of the organic food regime and to not permit one single government body to assume for itself the right to decide who should be called organic.