The Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI) was set up by the seniormost members of India’s organic farming community in the year 2002. The association was primarily set up to promote organic farming, lobby with government agencies and departments to pay more attention to sustainable agriculture, and assist farmers using chemicals and pesticides to convert successfully to organic farming methods. While the association has formulated programmes to assist organic farmers with organic certification and also participates fully in the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) of organic certification designed mostly for small and marginal farmers, it has steadfastly resisted becoming an agency for the procurement and distribution of organic produce. It prefers instead to promote and support individuals, communities, NGOs and networks who are in the business of organic marketing.
OFAI was formally registered under the Societies Registration Act only in 2006, after the rules of the association were discussed and vetted by several meetings of organic farmers and NGOs involved in the promotion of organic farming.
OFAI today remains the only membership-based national association of organic farmers, organic farming promoters and green stores. By charter, the President of the association will always be an organic farmer. The association will also strive to ensure gender equality in all its activities. It campaigns actively against the introduction of genetically modified organisms and seeds in India’s agriculture.
The Organic Farming Association of India has been formed with the following objectives:
- To promote nature-friendly, scientific, farming systems and practices that are economically viable, energy efficient, climate friendly and oriented towards the conservation of the environment and the empowerment of rural communities, building upon indigenous and traditional knowledge, skills and practices. It will aim to help organize farm-households and families engaged in organic farming and connected activities into a recognizable entity that will effectively represent their interests at local, state, regional and national levels.
- To enable farm-households engaged in organic farming to create the necessary infrastructure and facilities for them to select, save and exchange seeds and rootstock of various crops with each other in situ and ex situ;
- To lobby with the State and Central Governments to install and follow policies geared towards the promotion of organic farming in India including the provision of subsidies, price support, markets, legislation on organic seed regulation, farmer driven certification and other related needs.
- To lobby with the Food Processing Ministry and other concerned Government agencies in order to enable farming families to process, package and label organic produce and sell value added products within the law. To lobby specifically against GM seeds and GM farm inputs from being permitted for use within the Indian agricultural and food system including animal feeds.
- To advocate in favour of courses on organic agriculture in agricultural and other related institutions and for these institutions to take up need based research and study on topics as identified by organic farming families (land to lab) and implement promotional activities in organic farming and sustainable lifestyles;
- To work for the special educational needs of children from farm house-holds, the next generation of organic farmers. Such work will include networking among farming families, apprenticeship opportunities, workshops, enabling children from farm-households to have a special priority link with national open school, preparing a special organic farming programme within National Open School and other such opportunities;
- To assist families engaged in transitional organic farming to access practical know-how from experienced families or farmers through various means such as organizing regional workshops on need-based themes as expressed by the transitional farming families.
- To create awareness among all sections of consumers about the detriments of conventional chemical agriculture and consequences of the Green Revolution and the looming threat of the Gene Revolution and the benefits of organically produced foods.
- To formalize and operate credible, scientific and publicly trusted systems for the recognition and registration of organic farms.
- To work with other organic farming associations in India and internationally in order to strengthen the organic farming movement.
- To undertake programmes that will increase farmers awareness of their rights; legal rights vis-à-vis right to protect organic character of an organic farm such as for e.g. air quality, water quality, etc.