The global best practices are now making an entry into the Indian agricultural sector. In the 12th Plan period, the government has introduced the concept for Good Agricultural practices (GAP) certification for farmers in India, albeit as a voluntary measure.
The concept has been formally introduced in the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) and according to officials, this certification is encouraged with opening up of agricultural trade in India. Despite slowdown in conventional sectors like textile, engineering etc, agri exports have been a savior for the country last year. Therefore GAP in line with global GAP advocated by the World Trade organization ( WTO) is intended to enable the Indian farmer to get better price in the domestic as well as international market. For Horticulture, APEDA is acting as a nodal agency.
As per recent data from the agriculture ministry, froma net importing country, India is today consistently producing 250 million tonnes (MT) of food grains, 100 MT of rice, 90 MT of wheat, 35 million bales of cotton, and more than 18 MT of pulses among the major crops and cereals. India has emerged as a major player in the global agriculture market. In the last five years, the country’s agriculture exports have tripled from around Rs 80,000 crore (US$ 12.75 billion) to Rs 2.32 trillion (US$ 33.99 billion). Total exports of Indian agri and processed food products from April to August 2013 stood at US$ 9.7 bn as compared to US$ 8.8 bn during the same period last year, according to the data released by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).
For GAP certification, financial assistance will be given under the respective schemes, currently under MIDH at the rate of 50% of the cost for maximum area of four hectares per beneficiary.
As per the certification, implementation of GAP would promote optimum utilisation of water resources such as pesticides, fertilizers, water and eco-friendly agriculture. Officials explained that this certification has an indirect social dimension so as to protect the agricultural workers’ health from improper use of chemicals and pesticides.
Due to global expansion in food trade, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has set as one of their objectives the opening up of trade between countries and aims to address restrictive trade barriers. Sanitary issues have always been important in global trade and have become one of the most important potential Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) In this backdrop, the Indian GAP takes into account not only the quality and quantity of the produce obtained from a unit area but also in integrating pre harvest practices like soil & water management, nutrient management and pest management, harvesting, post harvest handling and other logistics.