In the wake of pro-green initiatives and increasing demand for organically farmed products worldwide, not only developed countries but even the developing countries are clamouring for organic products. More importantly, international importers of organic products have begun to insist on accredited Certifications for their incoming cargo imports.
The 0.65% share of organic farmlands in Sri Lanka in 2003 has steadily risen to 1.08% (25335 hectares) of total cultivated land by 2008, and thereby increased organic export volumes. More and more NGOs and private sector firms have started entering into this industry segment.
This situation has now resulted in the need for a National Certification body that can certify and accredit organic products to be exported as per international standards.
The Ministry of Industries and Commerce is now in discussions with industry stakeholders towards formation of National Organic Certification Authority (NOCA) in Sri Lanka.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishard Bathiudeen met a delegation of industry stakeholders last week accompanied by Export Development Board (EDB) officials at the Ministry premises at Colombo 3. The representatives were Dr. Daya Wijewardena, CEO, National Organic Certification Guarantee Limited (NOCGL), Thilak Kariyawasam, President/Lanka Organic Agriculture Movement (LOAM) and S. Muththusamy/Vice Chairman – NOCGL.
During the discussion on establishment of the National NOCA, Minister Bathiudeen assured support of the Ministry of Industries towards this effort. Director General, EDB stressed the groundwork to establish the local certification body called National Organic Control Authority (NOCA) under the EDB has commenced. This needs to be accomplished by amending the Sri Lanka Export Development Board Act No.40 of year1979.
The Minister confirmed the benefits of successfully establishing NOCA when the representatives highlighted the benefits of the implementation of registration of Sri Lanka in the third country list of EU.
The main benefits are:
n Maintain national organic standards through guaranteed monitoring and evaluation procedure accepted by the EU.
n Increase farmer income: 30%-100% price advantage compared to conventional produce
n Safe environment and human wellbeing through increased extent under organic farming
n Small farmer clusters will be able to obtain organic certificate at an affordable cost
n Importers will also benefit as they do not have to pay additional money to obtain an import license when importing from Sri Lanka.
n Organic products fetch premium prices at the export market & thereby the export earnings could be increased.