In a first of its kind initiative, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in collaboration with the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, has developed a 6-month duration course on Certificate in Organic Farming.
Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Commerce, launched this newly developed educational programme on Organic Farming here today. IGNOU Vice Chancellor, Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai; APEDA Director, S. Dave; and Prof. B.S. Hansra, Director of IGNOU’s School of Agriculture were present at the launch ceremony.
Ramesh stated that the study programme is expected to address vast manpower requirement for trained personnel in organic farming sector in India and added that after taking this course, successful candidates can find employment avenues as Organic Farming professionals, advisors, entrepreneurs, quality certifiers, marketing and export trade facilitators.
He further said that organic farming in India is set to get a major boost in the country due to the rising income levels and health consciousness among large section of people, as the programme has been designed with the help of experts from different organizations / universities across the country.
The IGNOU-APEDA Organic Farming programme will be the first such full-fledged educational and training programme being offered in the country. The programme would be made available to students, progressive farmers and certifying personnel seeking enrollment to the course from the coming academic year. As it would be imparted in IGNOU’s Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode, persons with Secondary School qualification (10+2) in any part of the country could enroll in it.
IGNOU’s School of Agriculture which developed the training programme in organic farming has the main objective of promoting sustainable agriculture by broad-basing and upgrading the knowledge level of the Indian farming community. The delivery of IGNOU’s organic farming programme to the students and farmers would be backed up by student practical classes and counseling being arranged through different Programme Study Centres (PCS) of IGNOU.
These programme study centres are established in State Agricultural Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, NGOs, ICAR institutions etc. Currently, India is having 1.7 million hectares of area under certified organic farming. The organic market in the country is valued at Rs.100 crore with an annual growth rate steadily going up from 35% to 50% by 2010.
India is fast becoming a major base for production and supply of organically produced agricultural products to the world market. The global market for organic farm produce is expected to touch US$ 100 billion by 2010.
Realizing the potential for export of organic products, Ministry of Commerce has set up National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) in April 2000. A National Steering Committee (NSC) was set up by the Ministry of Commerce under NPOP.
Maintaining strict quality control standards, India’s National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), ensures the export of only those products which qualify the National Standards for Organic production. APEDA has been designated as the secretariat for NSC under NPOP and it performs the lead role for promotion of export of organically grown agro-products. APEDA is also responsible for accreditation of Certification Bodies in the country.