UPSC PRELIMS 2020: Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS)

Topic: Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS)

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

Context:

The head of India’s food safety regulator has said that she expects the Union Agriculture Ministry’s Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS) to incentivise more farmers to grow organic food.

About PGS:

  • PGS is a process of certifying organic products, which ensures that their production takes place in accordance with laid-down quality standards.
  • The certification is in the form of a documented logo or a statement.
  • PGS is a “quality assurance initiative that is locally relevant, emphasize the participation of stakeholders, including producers and consumers, and (which) operate outside the framework of third-party certification”.

Four Pillars of PGS:

  • PARTICIPATION: Stakeholders such as producers, consumers, retailers, traders, NGOs, Gram Panchayats, and government organisations and agencies are collectively responsible for designing, operating, and decision-making.
  • Direct communication among the stakeholders helps create an integrity- and trust-based approach with transparency in decision-making, easy access to databases
  • SHARED VISION:Collective responsibility for implementation and decision making is driven by a common shared vision.
  • TRANSPARENCY:transparency is maintained through the active participation of producers in the organic guarantee process, which can include information-sharing at meetings and workshops, peer reviews, and involvement in decision-making.
  • TRUST: A fundamental premise of PGS is the idea that producers can be trusted, and that the organic guarantee system can be an expression and verification of this trust.

Advantage of PGS:

  • Procedures are simple, documents are basic, and farmers understand the local language used.
  • All members live close to each other and are known to each other. As practising organic farmers themselves, they understand the processes well.
  • Because peer appraisers live in the same village, they have better access to surveillance.
  • Peer appraisal instead of third-party inspections also reduces costs
  • Mutual recognition and support between regional PGS groups ensures better networking for processing and marketing.
  • Unlike the grower group certification system, PGS offers every farmer individual certificates, and the farmer is free to market his own produce independent of the group.

Disadvantages:

  • PGS certification is only for farmers or communities that can organise and perform as a group within a village or a cluster of continguous villages, and is applicable only to farm activities such as crop production, processing, and livestock rearing, and off-farm processing “by PGS farmers of their direct products”.
  • Individual farmers or group of farmers smaller than five members are not covered under PGS.

About Organic Certification in India:

There are two prevalent certification systems which are voluntarily followed by those who want to sell food under this category.

  • The first system, which is governed by the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, is mandatory for exports. It is called the National Programme for Organic Production and is also referred to as “Third Party Certification”.
  • Third party certification of organic farming is promoted by Agriculture Processed Food and Export Development Authority (APEDA), Ministry of Commerce.
  • The second system, governed by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, is called the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) and is meant only for the domestic market.
  • The Third Party Certification system is applicable to individual farmers or farmer groups, while the PGS is applicable only to farmer groups and works around the collective responsibility of the group.

About Organic Farming in India:

  • Organic farming is an agricultural system that works in harmony with nature. It largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives etc.) and rely upon crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection.
  • Government of India under the schemes- PKVY & MOVCDNER is supporting the production and marketing of organic produce in the country to reduce their costs and prices.
  • Under PKVY and MOVCDNER schemes enough assistance is provided to Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs)/ entrepreneurs for development of value chains/ marketing of organic produce.
  • Use of organic inputs like PROM, vermicompost, organic/bio-fertilizers, city compost, waste decomposer have been promoted under these schemes which will further reduce the costs of production in organic farming.

Economics of Organic Farming:

  • Cost of organic agriculture largely depends on on-farm generation of inputs. When on-farm organic inputs are used, cost of production per unit area is less by 13 % under organic agriculture than inorganic management.
  • if organic inputs from outside the farm are purchased and utilized, the cost of production increases by about 15-20 % depending on the nature of inputs used.
  • Integrated Organic Farming System (IOFS) models being developed under NPOF promises to meet 70-80 % of organic inputs within the farm thus reducing the market input cost considerably.
  • During the conversion period of initial two to three years, yield levels are expected to be low till soil system regains to respond to organic production system especially in the intensive agriculture areas.
  • –       As per the ASSOCHAM and E&Y report published in 2018, the domestic organic   market   was   valued at Rs. 2500   crores including Rs. 1500 crores in organised retail and Rs. 1000 crores by farmers’ direct market.

About Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) :

  • It is the first comprehensive scheme launched as a Centrally Sponsored Programme (CSP) since 2015-16, which now has been revised for next 3 years.
  • The scheme PKVY is implemented by the State Government on per hectare basis for 500-1000 hectare area in each cluster.
  • The farmer within a group can avail benefit to a maximum of 2 ha., and the limit of assistance is Rs.50, 000 per ha., out of which 62% i.e., Rs. 31,000 is given as incentives to a farmer for organic conversion, organic inputs, on farm inputs, production infrastructure, etc., shall be provided directly through DBT during the conversion period of 3 years.
  • Clusters can develop their own post-harvest, value addition and processing facilities, preferably under their institutions such as Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs)/ Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) for creation, collection and aggregation of post harvest process centre.

Success of Schemes:

  • Export has been initiated from Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram to Africa, UK & US, Australia and Italy respectively.
  • Market linkage of producer clusters with some major agri-business, phytochemical and online grocery stores have also been established.

Challenges in Scheme:

  • The 2015 PKVY guidelines say RCs will help organise trainings for cluster members and assist in the overall PGS certification, but it has no provision of training the RCs.
  • Individual farmers and non-profits working at the grassroots level have for decades led the Indian organic movement.
  • Even though PKVY guidelines say RCs can either be a government body or a non-profit, over 90 per cent RCs are government departments with little experience in organic farming.
  • Members of the RCs also complain that funding is grossly insufficient.
  • The scheme provides no financial support for maintaining livestock, which plays an important role in organic farming.
  • Farmers also say the scheme does not fund the construction of storage structures.
  • There is overall dip in the funding of scheme.
  • Farmers are too poor to make the initial investment and the money is transferred to the bank accounts only after the structure is made. It creates disincentives among farmers.
  • Under the scheme, a certification of PGS-India Organic can be granted after two to three years of organic practice. It has been issued without adequate sampling.
  • Government has failed to create a market for organic produce.

Way Forward:

  • The Indian organic movement can only flourish if it involves small farmers and domestic consumers.
  • PKVY must aim to make organic food a “norm” and not remain an “exception” in India.
  • PKVY, which is currently a component of the Soil Health Management under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, should be an independent mission with necessary administrative and accountability mechanisms.
  • It should also have a long-term vision and plan with aggressive targets and adequate funding.
  • The current target of about 200,000 ha is too small for a country like India which has over 140 million ha of net sowing land.
  • PKVY should adequately focus on training with respect to budgets, specific skills and demonstrations and involve expert farmers for large-scale structured interventions.
  • The Union agriculture ministry must also work towards providing assured markets for PGS produce. This will involve more physical stores, electronic platforms, but, most importantly, it should enable procurement for mid-day meals, public distribution schemes, railways, airlines and other government institutes.
  • FSSAI should set the standards for pesticide residues in organic foods and ensure surveillance.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statements:

  1. Union Agriculture Ministry’s Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS) is a process of certifying organic products
  2. It will be applicable for individual farmers

Choose the correct answer

(A) Only 1
(B) Only 2
(C) Both
(D) None

Answer: a