Generally, as a consumer, the focus is always on the quality of the products at the time of purchase. There are certain marks or kinds of certification that give the consumers reassurance regarding a particular product. Agricultural products are sold in massive volumes, especially for human consumption. Therefore, quality assurance plays a vital role in these products. Agmark is one such mark that is certified by the Government of India for all agricultural products ensuring consumers of both, their quality and their standard.
1. What is Agmark?
The Agmark certification acts as a benchmark for quality and is equivalent to vouching for the authenticity of the products. Agmark is governed by the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act, 1937 (as amended in 1986). Agmark Standards, presently, cover approximately 222 agricultural items, including cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, and other semi-processed goods. The Agmark certification, for the most part, is a voluntary certification, unless expressly made compulsory as per the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations, 2011.
The Government of India grants the Agmark certification. This mark incorporates:-
- Agricultural and horticultural items.
- Food and beverages that are either entirely produced or partly produced and partly manufactured.
The Government of India, through its agency, Directorate of Marketing and Inspection (DMI), lays down standards for agricultural products which is implemented at State level.
India is a country where agriculture plays a vital role, being one of the largest exporters in the world of agricultural produce and products. In this regard, the Agmark certification becomes almost a necessity so as to assure the public regarding the authenticity and quality of the products. In order to compete in the international markets, the grading standards are fixed, keeping in mind the requirements of the World Trade Organisation. The products bearing the Agmark insignia must conform to the standards laid down by Directorate of Marketing and Inspection(DMI), and any contravention in this regard may require free replacement of graded products by the producer.
2. How Does One Apply for the Agmark Registration?
- The person/ company may either access the website https://dmi.gov.in or visit the nearest office of the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection (DMI) in order to get the required application form. Form - A specifies the application for grant of Certificate of Authorisation for Grading and Marking of commodities for the domestic market.
- Along with the application form, the necessary documents shall be annexed and enclosed along with the prescribed application fee in accordance with the nature of the commodity for which the application is being filed. The registration fee is to be submitted in the form of demand draft, and it will vary based on several independent variable factors as stated in the forms and its annexures which includes grading charges, processing fees, etc. to name a few.
- In order to be eligible for grading and certifying a notified commodity under Agmark:-
- The person must have the necessary infrastructure to process the commodity.
- The person must have access to an approved laboratory for grading or must have their own laboratory.
Only if these conditions are met, the person may apply to the office of the DMI for grant of Certificate of Authorisation, which will be granted once the verification process is complete which takes about 30-40 days (approx).
- Where the person is granted access to an approved laboratory, the consent letter of the laboratory approved under Agmark must also be furnished in Form A-3.
- Prior to packing the commodity in containers, the testing of the raw material and the processed commodity will be carried out by an approved Chemist.
- Regular checks will be conducted by the field officers of the DMI with regard to the commodity graded and certified by comparing samples from the packer’s premises with those in the market.
- The renewal of the Certificate of Authorisation may be made for Rs. 5000 in Form A-4.
3. Documents Required to be Annexed to the Agmark Application
- Document authenticating the establishment of the firm, such as the registration certificate.
- Memorandum of Association, in case of a Limited Company.
- Partnership Deed, in case of a Partnership Firm.
- Name and postal address of the business, contact details included.
- The full address of the premises where the grading and certification will be carried out.
- Name of the commodities to be graded.
- Period for which the applicant has been in business.
- A copy of the test report which is duly authenticated, from an independent Agmark recognized laboratory.
- Sachets of the product samples to be submitted.
- Turnover details of the previous year.
- Total Gross Product for the previous year (in Kgs).
4. What if a Consumer is Not Satisfied With the Quality of the Produce Under Agmark?
- The person can make a complaint to the Agricultural Marketing Adviser by furnishing:-
1. Agmark Label/Replica Serial Number
2. Lot number
3. Date of Packing
4. Best before date
5. Trade Brand
6. Name and address of authorised packer
7. Name and address of authorised seller
- Where the complaint is found to be genuine, an action deemed fit will be taken against the packer.
- The packer will also be directed to give free of cost replacement to the aggrieved consumer.