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Seminar on Promoting Production and Trading Opportunities for
Organic Agriculture in India

Organised by
United Nations Environment Program - Division of Technology, Industry and
Economics - UNEP - DTIE Paris - France
Economic and Trade Branch - Geneva - Switzerland
Centre of Competence for the Innovation in the Agro - Environment Sector - AGROINNOVA, University of Turin - Italy

Supported by

Department of Agriculture, Government of Maharashtra

4-6 January 2006, Pune, India

Venue: Le Meridien-Pune
RBM Road, Pune 411001


Maharashtra and Karnataka are two of the 28 states in India that are predominantly agriculture based. The main agricultural products are cotton, sugarcane, rice, wheat, pulses and vegetables like onion, tomatoes, ginger etc. The green revolution reached India in the early 1970s and has triggered a substantial (but short-lived) increase in agricultural productivity accompanied by a tremendous increase in the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Unfortunately, this short-term benefit of increased productivity has clearly over-shadowed the long-term threats to the environment and agriculture. The ever-increasing and indiscriminate use of inorganic chemical fertilizers and toxic agro-chemicals (pesticides) has seriously threatened the traditional methods of sustainable agriculture for which Indian subcontinent was once well known throughout the world. The excessive use of chemicals in agriculture has also resulted in a serious degradation of the rich biodiversity in the region.

Some devastating signs are reduced soil fertility, interalia due to increased salinity, and water pollution due to seepage of toxic agro-chemicals into the water used for agriculture, and alarming reductions in groundwater levels due to excess groundwater extraction for irrigation.

Time is running out for the agricultural community in India to reverse these environmentally damaging trends. If appropriate measures are not taken immediately, the farmers might permanently lose their ability to prevent the downfall of their social and economic survival base. The devastating effects of agro-chemicals on human health and the environment have already been evident in the developed countries as well as India. Perpetual poverty of farmers has been predicted in India if farmers don’t adopt sustainable agricultural practices.

There is need to learn from the experience of the developed countries as well as those of other developing countries who have done well in promoting organic agriculture. The disastrous long-term implications of such non-sustainable practices need to be urgently communicated to the Indian farm producers and consumers. Alternative development models that use sustainable agricultural practices and organic methods need to be actively promoted and demonstrated as a matter of urgency.

The hurdles faced in the process of conversion from non-organic into organic farming have to be addressed and methods of transition to be established to save farmers from financial break down. The domestic market base has to be developed by promoting bio-food in order to encourage producers. Standardization of production methods, quality of fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, final products, packaging and marketing needs to be established and introduction of a new branding method evolved for organic merchandise to help find its way into international market.

Fortunately there are still many lands especially in the hilltops, which are not touched by green revolution. The work therefore would be:

  • To stop them from following footsteps of the rest
  • To create awareness on the benefits of bio agriculture to encourage more farmers to join in.
  • To stop reverted farmers from getting back to non- organic farming
  • To help those who want to revert to organic
  • To assist those who are in transit and by reformed methods
  • To encourage and help farmers who have reverted to organic

The certification of Bio Product to get into a high price bracket for their product is one of the main factors in luring farmers into organic farming. This leads to drain of money because of the loss of productivity for following years as well as tedious and costly certification process which does not take into consideration the transit and is led only by market forces. Often farmers give up hope half way and the future of such failed efforts can be very perilous. Thus a technique needs to be evolved for the certification, which can include the transit farmers and serve as good example for the rest of them.

As contrast to European countries domestic market for bio product in India is insignificant. Consumer awareness program has to be employed simultaneously to create market place for bio product. At the same time since bio product is new to the producers, a structured market network, agriculture policy and price structure is required to put into place so the farmers are not misled or confused into either over or under rating their product.

Objectives of the workshop:

The workshop will:

  1. Bring key stakeholders on a common platform to review the impacts of the present agricultural practices, status of organic/natural farming in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, and identify the barriers for promoting the best practices in organic farming.
  2. Make an attempt to assess the option of setting up a mechanism for exchanging information regarding organic best practices between agricultural communities in India, Pakistan and Italy.
  3. Identify the ways to address the barriers to trade to promote and facilitate market-access for organic products from India to other countries, and particularly to the European Union will be actively discussed.
  4. To achieve the objective of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in particular the goal of ensuring environmental sustainability through building of capacity of farmers for promotion of organic production.  sustainable living by building of capacity of Farmers and upgrading their  standard of living through promotion of Organic production and trade.

Target Audience:

Producers: Organic and non-organic farmers and farmers in transit. Members of Farmer’s Association from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh and Private sector agencies involved in the organic farming.

Promoters: Centre of Competence for the Innovation in the Agro Environment Sector of University of Turin -Italy,
Maharashtra: Krishi Vidyan Kendra (KVK), Science and Technology Park-Environment Cell, NGO-Gomukh, NGO-Maharashta Organic Farming Federation (MOFF), Leading Banks and Agriculture Financial Institutes, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority (APEDA), Natural Organic Certificate Association (NOCA) with Madhyam-NGO.
Karnataka: University of Agriculture and Science, Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI), Indian Farmers’ Movement (INFAM), Indian Organic Certification Agency (INDOCERT).

Traders: Representatives of food industries, bio-shop owners and exporters of organic food, whole sellers and extension workers.


UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics would support the organisation of this seminar and would provide technical guidance for developing project.

AGROINNOVA Centre of Competence for the Innovation in the Agro Environment Sector- University of Turin, working in the field of sustainable agriculture and agro-environmental issues. AGROINNOVA, active in research as well as in education and technology transfer, is implementing national and international research and development projects related to integrated pest management (IPM) and promotion of low impact technologies, especially organic farming techniques.

Madhyam (Movement for Alternative Development by Harnessing Youths' Ability through Media) is an NGO based in Pune –Maharashtra, India that is dedicated to promote sustainable development including sustainable agriculture among the youth by effective use of Media.


Department of Agriculture, Government of Maharashtra active in promoting the efficient agricultural practices among the farmers in Maharashtra. It has, over last couple of years initiated number of activities including the workshops of the farmers, booklets and exhibitions on the organic farming by leveraging the expertise of NGOs.

Description of the Seminar:

The three-days seminar will be organized in three sessions:

Plantation day: The first session, will include presentations about the status of organic farming in India with particular emphasis on Maharashtra and Karnataka states. UNEP will share its experiences of organic agriculture projects in East Africa and AGROINNOVA will present its research activities

Cultivation day: The second session will include site visits to organic farms. The progress made and the barriers related to knowledge, awareness, technologies, policies, and markets will be discussed.

Harvesting day: Presentations by financial organisations, universities, research institutes and manufacturers. Discussions on policy, marketing issues. The session will end with a concluding round table on future cooperation steps to initiate joint-activities between India, Italy and possibly Pakistan in this field.

Expected Outputs:

  1. Information on the status of organic farming in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
  2. Understanding the activities of the University of Turin in the field of sustainable agriculture.
  3. Identification of the barriers in promoting organic framing and trade in organic products
  4. Joint project for the assessment and promotion of organic farming, through collaboration with University of Turin, local NGOs.