To be able to put the word “Organic” on products each country has devised certain standards for organic farming, organic diary, organic livestock, organic processing and organic trading. Each country organic standards are different. The standardization of organic standards across different countries is co-ordinated by International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). For more on IFOAM standards please refer to the following URL : https://www.ifoam.bio/. The organic standards variation across different countries creates a huge knowledge gap amongst even the most learned and can get very complicated when we try and reconcile the variation across standards.

The world over there are 2 different kinds of organic certification methodologies: 1) Third party certification 2) Participatory guarantee system (PGS).

Third party certification :

Third party certification relies on external auditors to inspect and assure that the quality of production adheres to the organic certification standards. Third party certification is a process driven certification. External certification agencies conduct annual reviews on the organizations production, farming and internal control practices and check on the adherence of the organization practices against certification standards. The advantage of third party certification is that the certification is accepted both locally within India and internationally. Third party certification can be done either for individual farmers or as a group. For certification as an individual farmer it is prohibitively expensive, it costs on an average around Rs. 15 K per each farmer, so TruTrade instead organizes farmers as a group and then provides the certification for the entire group so as to minimize costs. If a farmer wants to get individual certification done, the following website has the list of all certification agencies which are approved by APEDA : https://apeda.gov.in/apedawebsite/organic/NPOP_certification_bodies.pdf

Participatory guarantee systems (PGS) :

PGS are locally focussed quality assurance systems. They certify farmers/producers based on active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange (IFOAM definition, 2008). The key facets (not exhaustive) of PGS are : 1) it is an affordable alternative to third party certification 2) improving livelihoods 3) farmer inspecting farmer and sharing of traditional / best practices. PGS is not new, the oldest known PGS was formed in 1972.

We can all discuss till the cows come home about which is a better certification methodology. Honestly, we don’t see much difference between the certification standards, and the only big-ticket differentiator is that exports are allowed for Third party certification and if you plan to sell only domestically you can opt for PGS certification.

At TruTrade we put the farmers interests as paramount and provide the farmers with a free and unbiased opinion on which certification methodology to adopt. TruTrade’s farmers adhere to and exceeds the organic standards as laid by :

  1. National Programme for Organic Products (NPOP) of the Agriculture & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India.
  2. Participatory Guarantee System for India, Department of Agriculture, Government of India.
  3. The National Organic Program (NOP) of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  4. European Union Council Regulation (EC 834/2007).

Simply put, we meet the organic certification standards of India, USA and European Union.

TruTrade’s quality process follows a multi-pronged approach that:

  1. First groups the farmers into clusters, wherein each farmer undergoes a peer review by their fellow farmers.
  2. TruTrade’s Internal Control Inspectors visit each farmer 2-3 times in a year during critical stages of crop production and perform a holistic assessment of the farmer and assess the farmers’ compliance against NPOP, NOP, EU and PGS standards.
  3. Third party certification agencies perform an assessment of not just the farmers but also TruTrade’s internal processes and identify non-compliances.
  4. Perform a random pesticide residue analysis of the end product by a third party testing agencies against 300+ known chemicals and pesticides.

TruTrade charges ₹ 600 ($9 USD) per year for a small and marginal farmer and ₹ 1200 ($18.5 USD) per year for a farmer whose land holding is greater than 2 acres. I am sure you would agree this cost does not even cover / recover TruTrade’s costs, but we charge this amount from the farmers so that the farmers take the certification seriously.

Sounds confusing? Talk to us, TruTrade team has more than 100+ man years of expertise on organic certification, trust us you cannot get better unbiased advisors than us. Email to care@trutrade.org for your certification needs.

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