Agriculture in India

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India is one of the world's most agriculturally significant countries. It ranks among the world's largest producers of rice, tea, fruits and vegetables, various spices, pulses, medicinal plants, and cashew nuts. Its first internationally certified organic products began emerging in the mid 70’s, supported by UK’s Soil Association.

India has evolved a rich history of agricultural practices and continues to adapt technologies like biodynamic and other systems into its organic practices. India's organic farmers have been at the forefront of developing field based technologies ranging from vermi - composting to integrated livestock practices that facilitate their ability to improve soil fertility even in semi-arid or barren areas. Different parts of India have developed their own local or regional systems for ecological agriculture such as Agnihotra and Panchakavya that are now gathered in one umbrella term: ‘Jaivic Krishi’.

Civil society, primarily in the form of NGOs and farmer groups, plays a primary role in India's organic sector. They have helped to evolve basic cultivation practices in the poorer and remote areas where extension services and improved agricultural technologies are rarely reached. As organizations, they have served a vital role of disseminating information and knowledge as well as facilitating the access to markets. More recently, as business opportunities have emerged in the organic field, private companies have increasingly taken a role in organic development.

Recognizing that India's rain fed agriculture — that accounts for 60 percent of planted area (Government of India's Economic Survey) — can potentially make good use of organic methods, the Government has recently taken a number of steps to promote and regulate organic production and marketing. The Ministry of Agriculture has set up a special working committee for organics and the Ministry of Commerce set up a National Steering Committee that prescribed The National Standards of Organic Produce (NSOP). Several state governments have also established their own organic policies and programmed implementation guidelines. Still in the early stages, the public sector is beginning to respond to the increasing demand for information on organic production and marketing. Twelve of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research Institutes has been given the mandate lately to move into organic production either as a main focus or as a sideline to their mainstream research. The discussion on how to overcome the knowledge gap is now focused on quickly providing basic information tailored to various soil and ecological zones of the country, on developing integrated packages of organic crop production practices, improved input.