Organic certification firms withdraw from certifying ‘high risk’ products – BusinessLine

Some of the organic certification agencies like Control Union and Lacon Quality Certification have decided to withdraw crops such as cotton, soyabean and sesame from their business operation in India, citing them ‘high risk’.
The decision will lead to growers’ groups scouting for alternative certification agencies to continue with their organic offerings.
In a communication to clients earlier this month, Control Union Inspections and Certifications India said, “the management has taken a decision not to continue with organic certification of cotton, soyabean, sesame, sugar and moringa powder that fall under high risk either during production, processing, handling, storing, trading or exporting.” It said that the decision was taken following “articles published in various media” regarding organic agri certification in India and subsequent categorisation as a high risk certification body.
The company asked its clients dealing with these products to switch over to other certification bodies or to withdraw the products from certification before commencement of next kharif season.
Similarly, Lacon Quality Certification has also asked its clients to inform by April 26 their acceptance as the company has decided not to certify products “that are considered high risk by accreditation bodies” in order to continue to serve operators who fulfil the organic regulatory requirements.
Lacon has listed cotton, sesame, soyabean and its byproducts as high risk category.
While Control Union Inspections & Certifications India’s chairman Binay Kumar Choudhury declined to comment, Lacon Quality’s director Bobby Issac could not be contacted.
Recently, Control Union India got delisted from Category A under NPOP-EEC equivalency agreement and also got categorised as high risk certification body. India has National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) and Europe has European Economic Community or EEC to regulate organic products.
Last month, thousands of organic farmers from nine districts in Madhya Pradesh had sought the Centre’s recognition to continue the chemical-free farming, amid reports of action against certification agencies for using fictitious growers’ groups.
As certification process is costlier and beyond the capacity of a small farmer, traders and companies used to organise growers’ groups and get them registered with certification bodies to enable the export of end products.
Minister of State of Commerce Anupriya Patel also recently told Parliament that there were several certification bodies against which the government had taken action. “In 2013, there was suspension of accreditation of Natural Organic Certification Agro Private Limited under National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) for six months. Similarly, in 2015, in the case of Bio-Cert India Private Limited, accreditation was terminated under NPOP and in 2019, Intertech India Private Limited was suspended for six months and penalty of ₹6 lakh was imposed. There is a long list of such certification bodies,” Patel said in Lok Sabha in March replying to supplementary questions.
“We do not compromise with the reputation of the nation. There are certification agencies or bodies which are certified by the National Accreditation Board and they certify organic products and give them the ‘India Organic’ mark. In case there is ever any complaint, APEDA looks into it. If there are irregularities, malpractices, or any procedural lapse, we suspend the accreditation of those certification bodies to make sure that these standards which are in harmony with the international standards are never compromised‍,” the minister had said.