The cost of the project is about $2 million and will be operational for three years, Mr Gustafson told FE. Experience in other countries shows that the production will increase with the use of organic manure. Besides, the product will be widely marketable, he added.
The UN organisation has taken up this programme keeping in view the increased incidences of pesticide residues in some commodities, especially among horticultural produces both for export as well as domestic markets.
Mr Gustafson said that the programme will be taken up in collaboration with the Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR), National Organic Cultivation Research Institute, Ghaziabad, Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), among others.
We will provide all required logistics including a portion of finances to these organisations, he added.
The programme will focus on all kinds of crops including vegetables, fruits, medicinal and aromatic plants. The products will be certified to enable farmers to export to the US and European countries. We are also planning for group certification for the produce to help small farmers. The programme will organise meeting programmes with the farmers or self-help groups or mutually-aided cooperative societies (MACS) to certify the product, which will be more economical, Mr Gustafson pointed out. On an average, it takes about two years to attain the level of certification.
Incidentally, APEDA is also planning for group certification and has proposed to introduce this scheme next month facilitating small and marginal farmers.