India soon to have good agricultural practices document

Thursday, 31 July 2008, 11:28 Hrs
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New Delhi: India is set to have an agricultural testament called good agricultural practises (GAP) aimed at enhancing farm productivity marked by quality.

India's apex body to monitor export of processed foods and agricultural products - the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) - has submitted a modified GAP document to the ministry of agriculture to adopt and implement.

"India-GAP, once adopted for implementation, will bring a turn-around in the country's farm sector. It will act as a guide to them from field to post-harvest for an increased and qualitative productivity," Apeda director Sanjay Dave told IANS.

India-GAP document will cover all agro-products like vegetables, pulses, cereals, spices and medicinal plants. It will also cover such as mango, guava and banana.

At present, India follows the stipulations of European Retailers Parties Good Agricultural Practices for the export of horticulture products such as grape, mango and pomegranate.

Dave, the architect of India-GPA, said India needed urgently such a comprehensive guide on the farm sector to increase agricultural yields by accelerating the growth rate to over four percent during the current Plan period (2007-12)

"The document intends to achieve over four percent growth rate by telling farmers how to increase outputs, kind of technology and seeds they should use. It even tells them how to maintain pesticide residue to an approved level," Dave said.

"It is also necessary to carve a niche for our farm products in the global market, which is increasingly getting highly competitive."

Dave said the government should put in place a certifying mechanism through the public-private partnership in every state, and certificates should be issued to farm owners complying with the India-GAP norms.

"An India-GAP certified farmer will stand to gain more as compared to others as his products will be better than others and will have an edge over other products in the market," said Dave.

India-GAP, running into over 150 pages, will initially be available in English, and will later be translated into other languages. Apeda wants the document to be circulated at the block level.

"The whole purpose of creating India-GAP will be defeated if the document is not distributed to the farmers. From the use of fertilisers to the suitability of seeds as per the local soil, India-GAP is an answer to varied questions," Dave said.

Dave, the first Indian vice-chair of Rome-based Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), said India must concentrate on efforts to increase the standards of food products to acquire a competitive edge in the global market.

"India cannot afford any complacency with regard to maintaining standards of food products. International consumers are quite quality conscious," said Dave said.

India's farm and processed food products' exports have grown from 6.47 billion in 1999-2000 to 24.12 billion in 2006-07.

Major importers of Indian agri-products such as mango, onion and basmati rice are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, Italy, Germany, Australia and Jordan.

"If India-GAP is properly implemented through GAP certified model farms, our farm export will be up by 25 to 30 percent," Dave said.
Source: IANS
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