Govt to consider a new certification system for organic cotton & its derivatives
As part of its efforts to boost Indian exports, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare plans to create a new certification system for organic cotton and products made from it.
The initiative comes in response to service organizations requesting notification of the ‘Indian Standard for Organic Textiles’ in order to protect Indian organic cotton and the textile industry.
In order to develop the new certification system, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has formed a committee to investigate the concerns about the organic certification of cotton and its derivatives.
Comments from stakeholders
The committee will look at the idea of launching a new certification system under the Agriculture Ministry, with participation from the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies and the Quality Council of India.
The Agriculture Ministry will convene a stakeholders meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday as part of this initiative, where the ‘need and relevance for another certification system with special focus on cotton and textile value chains’ will be explored.
According to a statement released by the Ministry, stakeholders have been requested to suggest the extent of the sector to be covered, as well as collect and submit feedback from various stakeholders, including private label operators.
Current market dominance
Last month, a Chennai-based service organization wrote to Modi about how, despite the lack of a local textile standard for organic cotton, India remained a raw material supplier to Bangladesh.
The organization says that private organic textile standards like Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) and Textile Exchange currently control the global market. This means that India can only supply raw materials for organic textiles.
The Directorate-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) published an order on ‘Procedure for Export of Certified Organic Products’ on November 18, 2014. The notice brought the export of organic textiles under the Indian Standard for Organic Textiles.
The organic textile sector, on the other hand, urged the Centre to postpone the implementation of the Indian standard in order to acclimate to the new regime. The DGFT delayed the order until further orders on December 18, 2014.
On May 5, 2015, the DGFT sent out another order saying that, with the exception of textiles, all certified organic products in the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) will be able to be exported starting on June 1, 2015.
Organic textile makers and exporters are currently getting GOTS certification so they can sell India’s organic textiles. However, GOTS, founded in Germany, is a ‘private standard’ and ‘private label’ rather than a government label.
Because there is no link between NPOP and GOTS, the amount of organic cotton grown under NPOP and used as input by certification bodies or commerce is a grey area and a source of concern, according to the Chennai-based organization.
Conduct a reconciliation audit
Authorities in charge of trade and certification are said to keep using the same stock of organic cotton to make a lot of organic textiles. The truth will only be found through a ‘reconciliation audit of organic textile goods made under GOTS and organic cotton.’
Deferring the 2014 directive to implement the Indian Standard of Organic Textiles was requested since it was ‘much superior’ to GOTS. The textile sector requested a year to adopt the standard. Manufacturers and exporters have ‘voluntarily complied with the Indian norm for the past seven years.
According to the organization, the government’s surveillance of organic textiles ends with organic cotton. This leaves its derivatives, such as yarn, textiles, made-ups, and clothing, unregulated.
Because of this, the country has to rely on private standards to promote organic textiles in both local and international markets.
Sources in the trade say that the Agriculture Ministry’s plan to set up a panel is mostly meant to promote native types of cotton, organic cotton, and products made from them.