EU Finds Weaknesses in Indian Certification of Organic Products

The European Union’s audit to assess the certification of Indian organic products for exports to the EU has found many weaknesses in the Indian certification of organic products. In this article, we discuss this news item from the perspective of the IAS exam.

EU Finds Many Weaknesses in Indian Certification of Organic Products

  • The European Union (EU) conducted an audit to assess the certification of Indian organic products for exports to the EU.
  • The audit identified several weaknesses in the supervision and implementation of controls related to organic farming practices.
  • This note highlights the key findings of the audit, including non-compliance, lack of follow-up actions, and deficiencies in the control system.

Identified Weaknesses:

  • Serious Non-compliances and Lack of Action against Certification Bodies:
    • The audit found systematic non-compliances among certification bodies during unannounced inspections.
      • For instance, no action was taken against the certification bodies despite the identified non-compliances.
    • Impact: It raises concerns about the effectiveness of the certification process and the need for stronger enforcement measures.
  • Weaknesses in Organic PGs and Implementation of NPOP:
    • The audit revealed that some farmers belonging to Producer Groups (PGs) had little or no knowledge of organic farming practices.
    • Non-compliance with National Programme on Organic Production (NPOP) guidelines was observed in 26 PGs, including poor implementation and unauthorized use of substances.
    • Impact: Undermines the credibility of organic certification and compromises consumer trust in Indian organic products.
  • Inspector’s Oversight and Non-compliance Detection:
    • Instances were highlighted where inspectors failed to identify non-compliances during inspections.
      • Examples include the oversight of unburned plastic containers containing prohibited substances and the overlooked presence of non-organic seeds and chemicals in fields.
    • Impact: Raises concerns about the competency and thoroughness of inspections, highlighting the need for improved training and oversight.
  • Deficiencies in APEDA’s Supervision and Enforcement:
    • Significant deficiencies were identified in APEDA’s supervision and enforcement of organic production controls.
      • For instance, lack of follow-up actions after findings were reported, particularly regarding non-compliant certification bodies.
    • Impact: Indicates systemic failures in the control system and the need for stricter supervision and enforcement mechanisms.
  • Delegation of Inspections and Training to Mandators:
    • The practice of delegating internal inspections and training to “mandators” (processors, exporters, or traders) was noted.
    • The report highlighted the potential hindrance to effective internal controls when the mandator is not certified by the same certification body as the PG.
    • Impact: Raises concerns about the consistency and reliability of internal inspections and calls for greater alignment between PGs and mandators.
  • Inadequate Audits and Risk Assessment:
    • The audit found that the frequency, scope, and focus of audits for supervising certification bodies did not meet NPOP requirements.
    • The lack of documented procedures for risk assessment by one certifying body was identified as a violation of NPOP.
    • Impact: Indicates the need for more rigorous and comprehensive audits to ensure compliance with NPOP guidelines.

National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP)

  • It was initiated by the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry in 2001 and aims to achieve the following key objectives:
    • Evaluation Platform: Establishing a robust framework for evaluating certification programs related to organic agriculture and products based on government-approved criteria.
    • Accreditation Recognition: Recognizing and accrediting certification programs offered by various bodies seeking accreditation or certification in the organic sector.
    • Standard Compliance: Facilitating the certification process for organic products, ensuring their compliance with approved standards and regulations.
    • Import Certification: Assisting in the certification of organic products intended for import, either through mutual equivalence agreements between nations or as per the specific requirements of the importing countries.
    • Promotion of Organic Farming: Promoting the adoption of organic farming practices, supporting organic processing methods, and fostering their overall development across the country.
  • The National Programme for Organic Production plays a crucial role in providing a structured framework for organic certification, ensuring the integrity and quality of organic products in India. 
  • By promoting organic farming and facilitating trade in organic products, the program contributes to sustainable agriculture, environmental conservation, and the growth of the organic sector in the country.
  • Read more on the National Programme for Organic Production in the linked article.


  • The EU audit findings reveal weaknesses in the certification process of Indian organic products for exports to the EU.
  • Non-compliances, lack of follow-up actions, deficiencies in supervision, and weaknesses in control systems were identified.
  • Strengthening the certification process, improving inspections, and ensuring effective enforcement measures are necessary to restore trust in Indian organic products and protect their authenticity in the global market.

EU Finds Weaknesses in Indian Certification of Organic Products:- Download PDF Here

Related Links
Gist of Kurukshetra May 2019 Issue: Organic Farming Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana
Indian Council for Agricultural Research [ICAR] Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF)
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)


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