ICCOA

International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture, based at Bangalore is taking several initiatives to develop organic farming in the country.

Manoj Kumar Menon

Manoj Kumar Menon

ICCOA is a knowledge and learning center for all aspects of organic agriculture and agribusiness. ICCOA was established in 2003. The organization was formed with the initiative taken by a number of NGOs, farmer organizations, companies, research institutions and government agencies, to provide services to the organic farming and organic stakeholders in India and South Asia. “The mission of the organization is to build competence of organizations and individuals in organic agriculture and agribusiness and thereby contribute to ecologically, economically and socially sustainable agriculture and livelihood systems,” avers Mr. Manoj Kumar Menon, Executive Director, ICCOA.

Activities
The organization is involved in the following activities:
· Policy and Advocacy: ICCOA functions as an interface organization for all organic stakeholders and submits policy recommendations to concerned authorities for supporting the development of organic agriculture and organic business.

· Research and Technology: The organization deals with technological needs of organic agriculture.

· Capacity Building: ICCOA deals with capacity building of all stakeholders of the organic business in India through extensive training courses and seminars. It supports project partners to acquire the know-how on how to ensure a professional and sustainable development of the organic market.

· Standards and Quality Management: This programme works on the harmonization of input approval at national level. Provides information on available inputs, and builds up expertise in input approval. ICCOA aims to build the brand image of the Indian Organic Guarantee System on the domestic and international level.

· Market Development Program: The objective of the programme is to enhance the market opportunities for Indian organic and fair trade products on international, regional and local markets. The focus of the programme is on awareness creation, market research and market information, development and documentation of market chains by means of organic marketing initiatives and organizing ‘India Organic’ trade fairs.

India Organic Trade Fairs
ICCOA started with India Organic trade fairs in 2005 at Bangalore. After two successful fairs – “India Organic-2005” & “India Organic-2006”- at Bangalore, the organic stakeholders felt that ICCOA should move the fair to the capital in 2007. Therefore, this year India Organic trade fair is travelling to New Delhi.

“The objective behind shifting the venue to New Delhi is to engage the government of India and other state government and government agencies in organizing the event at an even larger scale,” maintains Mr. Menon. “The idea is to involve in a major way especially APEDA (Ministry of Commerce) and NCOF (Ministry of Agriculture) so that the fair is scaled up and a broader section of stakeholders gets very closely associated with the fair in times to come,” he adds.

The trade fair is part of the mission of developing competence in organic agriculture and agribusiness in India and South Asia. India Organic 2007 is being co-organized with National Centre of Organic Farming, Ministry of Agriculture and APEDA, Ministry of Commerce.

India Organic-2007 will have the following parallel events:
· Trade fair
· International seminar and workshops.
· B2B and B2C meets
· Organic Food Festival

Beneficiaries of the Fair
India Organic-2007 is a trade fair to bring all stakeholders of the organic sector in India on a common platform. The objective is to put the value chain together, right from organic farmers/ producer groups, to service providers, traders, exporters, retailers, processors, certifications agencies and also all major government agencies and state government departments etc.

The organic sector in India is emerging and has immense potential for growth. At such a stage a trade fair is beneficial to the entire stake holding groups. ICCOA plays the role of the interface organization by organizing the IO fairs. Thus the trade fair benefits the following:
· Organic farmers are benefited by meeting buyers (exporters, domestic traders, retailers and international buyers).
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· The presence of multiple buyers gives farmers the opportunity to get the best prices for their produces.

· Farmers currently practicing conventional agriculture but interested in switching to organic are benefited by the knowledge sharing by organic farmers and other components of the value chain.

· Farmers are also benefited by interacting with multiple certifying agencies and therefore can negotiate to get the best value for their investments.

· Traders and exporters are benefited as they can meet large number of organic farmers with wide range of products. The supply base gets expanded and they can trade in larger volumes and cater to a greater range of international and domestic demands.

· International buyers are benefited by meeting organic producer groups directly and thus can deal with them without intermediaries. This benefits the farmers also in getting better prices.

· Producers and manufacturers of organic inputs can showcase their products and promote these among the farmers.

· State government departments can share experiences and knowledge from other states and thus can improve their organic programs for the benefit of the state and its organic farmers.

· Various state government who are still to have their own spolicy on organic agriculture can study models of other states and use the knowledge in their policy drafting and program implementations.

· Central government agencies get the right platform to promote organic programs, address issues of common interest with other stake holding groups, announce new policy etc. The agencies also interact with organic farmers to determine their concerns and therefore incorporate programs to suit the requirements.

· Government agency, e.g. APEDA works to promote and expand the export market and this fair helps in bringing the exporters and their suppliers together which helps the international trade to grow.

· Government agency like NCOF has the mandate to promote organic agriculture and this fairs provided the opportunity to interact with various state government, its farmers and understand the issues faced by them.

· Service providers, NGOs etc can bring their organic producers to the fair and facilitate trade and networking activities. They can also gain more information and later disseminate the same among their producers/ members.

· The India Organic trade fair projects the country as a very potential supply base for the widest range of organic products coming from all regions of this country. Thus it helps develop India as a major hub for organic products and international trade will bring export earning to the entire country and good economic returns to its farmers.

· The entire nation is benefited by the growth of organic agriculture which has environmental benefits to the country and its population and economic benefits to its farmers.

Participants Profile
India Organic trade fair invites participants from the world of organic agriculture with a very broad spectrum of stake holding groups. The broad spectrum of stakeholders also includes certified organic, Biodynamic farming (Demeter), farms under conversion, other sustainable farming practises like Good Agriculture Practises (Eurep Gap, India GAP), standards like HACCP, ISO etc. Therefore the IO trade fairs are open to certified organics with clearly demarcated spaces, but also to in conversion and other sustainable farming practices.

“In India, the organic agriculture is still developing and various schools of thought co-exist. This fair also focuses on bringing them together to help the entire organic sector to grow,” says Mr. Menon. The related activities of Biodynamic farming, LEISA, Homa farming, Europe gap, ICM/INM and other forms of sustainable and eco-friendly farming practises are seen by many as a route or means towards organic farming. It is believed that these practices can get inspired by organic agriculture and move towards it, thereby benefiting organic agriculture and all its stakeholder groups in the long run.

Supports, Participation, Exhibitors
The India Organic trade fairs have support from all quarters of the organic movement, from India as well as abroad. The participation came from central government, state government and its agencies, commodity boards, NGOs, farmers/farmer groups, exporters, other private sector companies and internationally from SECO, FiBL, IFOAM, SIPPO, Oxfam, FAO, Indo German Chamber of Commerce, CBI, Organic Exchange, Winrock and many others.

Ministry of Agriculture, government of India, through the National Centre for Organic Farming, and APEDA, ministry of commerce has been associated as the co-organizers in the previous fairs. Government of Karnataka was also the co-organizer in the first edition and other state governments like Government of Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttranchal, Sikkim, Mizoram, Nagaland, etc had been sponsors in different categories. Mr. Menon further informs, “Much international participation also occurs. Government of Switzerland is a major supporter and sponsor of India Organic fairs. SIPPO has brought buyers delegation from Europe, FiBL and IFOAM brings expert speakers. Organizations like Organic Exchange and Winrock, among others brought delegates from across the world, including USA.”

Our Correspondent

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