Organic Products Development in India

The Indian agriculture is sustained by mechanisation but constrained by deforestation. However, Indian agriculture and dairy industry are now initiating to follow the organic way and write the success story of NPOP. It has been recently reported that 70 % of milk in India is adulterated with addition of baking soda, starch, urea, water, etc. (Sankari 2014). It may be supposed shelf life values of milk are increased, but health consequences are surely severe. In such a serious situation, attempts to produce organic milk and milk products by a few enterprises are really challenging. The milk product can be defined ‘organic milk’ on condition that cows or other animals are fed on fodder free from synthetic insecticides and artificial fertilisers. In addition, antibiotics or banned hormones have to be absent, and milk has to be piped from udders to chillers and pasteurisers without hand touch.

Indian Food: The Safety Concern

Indian agriculture, known for biodiversity-based traditional farming practices even up to 1950s, began to follow the path of industrial farming and allow the use of synthetic fertilisers and insecticides in farms when vast deforestation simultaneously was also going on, to meet out the requirement of horizontally expanding urbanisation. By the viewpoint of environmental protection and public health, avoidance or minimisation of synthetic insecticides and fertilisers was considered as the prime requirement. In due course of time, Indian farms gradually used to apply animal excreta (mainly cow dung) as manure and neem leaves juice as insecticide in almost same way as ancestors were practising. Advantages offered by the biodiversity of earthworms were not much available due to vast deforestation; therefore, soil was not properly enriched with mineral nutrients, and hence the farm yield began to decline. This type of farming is, nowadays, called organic farming. With the use of hybrid and transgenic seeds, both kinds of farming practices—conventional or industrial as well as organic—gained the new amplitudes of bumper crop production. It would be appropriate to mention that Indian farmers use GMO for cotton production only; however, the Indian government has now planned for field trials of transgenic crops including rice, maize, mustard, brinjal and chickpea also. This plan is called integrated approach of farming. In this way, three kinds of farming practices in India are prevalent at present:

  • (1) Conventional Farming (use of synthetic fertilisers, synthetic insecticides, hybrid seeds and transgenic seeds)
  • (2) Organic-Integrated Farming (no use of synthetic fertilisers, synthetic insecticides, but hybrid and transgenic seeds are used)
  • (3) Organic Farming (no use of synthetic fertilisers, synthetic insecticides and transgenic seeds, but hybrid seeds are used).

A notable percentage of Indian foods may be often intended as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ product if compared with industrial or semi-organic foods obtained by conventional or integrated farming systems, respectively. This simple postulate in the context of Indian food products might be further elucidated as follows:

  • (a) Low synthetic pesticide usage. A small fraction of worldwide consumption of synthetic pesticides, 3.75 % only is shared by India; while USA and Europe share 25 and 45 %, respectively (De et al. 2014). Although pesticides globally cover only 25 % of the cultivated land, there is a remarkable difference with reference to pesticide usages per unit area for different countries. Among the Asian countries, the usage of pesticides in Japan and Korea corresponds to 12 and 6.6 kg/ha, respectively, while in India this value is 0.5 kg/ha (a nominal number in comparison to several countries). It is also worth mentioning that among all pesticides the worldwide consumption of herbicides is the maximum value: 47.5 %, followed by insecticides (29.5 %), and fungicides/other pesticides (23 %).The Indian scenario of pesticide consumption is somewhat reverse; insecticides 80 %, herbicides 15 %, others 5 % only. It is believed that weed control is mostly manually done by hand in India; therefore, herbicides are not so much required by farmers (De et al. 2014)
  • (b) Moderate synthetic fertiliser usage. Indian farmers moderately use synthetic fertilisers, if compared with other countries. The total fertiliser consumption of fertilisers in India corresponds to 144.8 kg per hectare of arable land between 2012 and 2013 according to the World Bank4 and a recent Indian document (Department of Fertilizers 2014). This average value is very different from those ascribed to Kuwait and the Russian Federation in 2013 (1097.8 and
  • 15.2 kg of fertilisers per hectare of arable land, respectively)
  • (c) A remarkable probability of finding safe food in India in the context of presence of synthetic insecticides. No synthetic pesticide residues were detected in 81.3 %—Indian food samples collected at national level (Express News Service 2015). Although this result indicates a good probability of finding safe food in India, it should be still much higher to ensure that Indian foods are quite safe.

Despite the fact that Indian food is often ‘organic’, this food sometimes faces rejection at EU borders. In detail, India ranks several times among countries standing with higher number of rejections in the RASFF notifications list, mostly due to presence of Salmonella spp. (bacterial growth) in fruits and vegetables and the detection of aflatoxins in herbs and spices. Therefore, the discussion on environmental factors (climate change or global warming), storage and transport conditions and land use policy issues (like deforestation) becomes relevant in the context of development of detrimental chemicals in farm-level operations and postharvest food storing in India to safeguard interests of consumers, farmers and businessmen, particularly exporters.

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