Natural Farming Standards & Certification System

Natural Farming
Certification System (NFCS)-India

A Committee has been constituted by DA&FW vide OM No. 9-30/2021-Org.Fmg.(FTS/106267) dated 21.03.2022 to draw the standards and certification system for Naturally Grown Products and in this regard, the constituted committee has framed the standards and certification system and submitted the report to DA&FW, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer's Welfare, GoI.

Office Memorandum Download

National Centre for Organic & Natural Farming
Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare
Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare
Govt. of India

  • NFS: Natural Farming System
  • NFP: Natural Farming Products
  • NSNF: National Standards for Natural Farming
  • NFCS: Natural Farming Certification System
  • NCONF: National Centre for Organic and Natural Farming
  • RCONF: Regional Centre for Organic and Natural Farming
  • QCAs : Quality Control Authorities
  • NS: National Secretariat
  • LEC: Local Executive Committee
  • SLCC: NFCS State Level Coordination Committee
  • QCI: Quality Council of India
  • NAB: National Accreditation Board
  • APEDA: Agricultural Food Processed Exports Development Authority
  • FSSAI: Food Safety Standards Authority India
  • GP: Gram Panchayat
  • NPOP: National Programme for Organic Production
  • PGS: Participatory Guarantee System of Certification
  • NFCS-EB: Natural Farming Certification System- Executive Body
  • DA&FW: Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare
  • ATMA: Agricultural Technology Management Agency
  • MoRD: Ministry of Rural Development
  • NRLM: National Rural Livelihood Mission
  • SRLM: State Rural Livelihood Mission
  • INM: Integrated Nutrient Management
  • DA&FW: Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare

National Standards for certification of Natural Farming Products

Natural Farming is considered as an ecological farming approach where farming system works with the natural biodiversity, encouraging the soil’s biological activity and managing the complexity of living organisms both plant and animal and create an ecosystem to thrive along with food production system. This would be supported by diversified cropping system-based agriculture, relying on natural nutrient recycling, recycling of on-farm generated biomass and locally developed and refined practices based on plant, animal and microbial source as raw materials in exclusion of all types of synthetic and chemical inputs directly or indirectly. The philosophy of natural farming systems also stresses on self-sufficiency in inputs and discourage the use of all types of purchased inputs (synthetic chemicals or fertilizer, etc.,). With the growing demand for naturally grown and/ or Natural food products in national and international markets it became necessary to ensure that such agricultural products are labelled as “Natural Farming Produce”. For a food product to be labelled as natural farming produce, all stakeholders in the supply chain, starting from farmers, to processors, to packers need to be registered under the system and certified as per the standards prescribed under the programme.

National Standards for certification of Natural Farming Products are applicable to all agricultural, horticultural, medicinal / herbal and agroforestry crops, livestock / fisheries/Beekeeping systems and their products. Processing under NFCS is limited to on-farm processing at individual or at group of producers. Multi-ingredients processing, where raw material from different sources and from different certification systems are derived is not part of natural farming standards and NFCS.

General Requirements

a. NFCS certification can be taken up as a stand-alone certification for either crop production, livestock or processing or an integrated certification for crop-livestock-processing.
b. Only the crops, livestock and their processed products, produced, reared and processed in compliance of the NSNF shall qualify for NFCS certification.
c. Use of synthetic/ chemical inputs (chemical fertilizers, pesticides, hormones or synthetic growth hormones/ growth stimulants, synthetic feed additives) and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), GMO seeds/planting material or their derivatives or their products directly or indirectly are prohibited.
d. Natural farming system avoid use of purchased inputs (chemical or otherwise), therefore all inputs shall be prepared on-farm or sourced locally on exchange basis from fellow natural farmers within the 10 KM radius and maximum upto Taluk/Tehsil Level. Authorised Gaushalas upto District level can be considered for purchase of NF inputs.
e. Preferably the entire landholding alongwith livestock should be converted to natural farming as per the standards.
f. If the whole farm cannot be converted, it should be ensured that the natural and conventional parts of the farm are separate and distinct. To ensure a clear separation between natural and organic/ conventional production, a buffer zone or a natural barrier should be maintained.
g. Simultaneous production of same crop (parallel production) in natural and conventional need to be avoided.

1. Crop Production
1.1 Habitat care is the first step of natural farming conversion. To ensure proper living conditions for all living beings, steady supply of green material for manuring and to create diversified plant stand it is essential that diversified plants/ trees etc are planted on bunds and other non-cultivated area of the farm. Idea is also to provide Food and shelter to friendly insects and birds on farm. Adequate space shall be kept for rain water harvesting and fish ponds etc.

1.2 Agro Biodiversity Maintain sufficient diversity in the farm land through diversified plantations, multiple cropping, mixed cropping, intercropping, cover crops, trap crops, multi-layered farming and crop rotations etc.,

2.1 Seeds and planting material
a. All seeds and planting materials should be of natural farming origin
b. When natural farming seeds/ planting material are not available, organically grown seeds can be used. As last resort, conventionally grown seeds can also be used but without chemical treatment. Frequent use of conventional seeds shall be avoided and efforts should be to have a nursery of conventional seeds without chemical treatment. Farmers having own seed bank or nursery for natural farming shall be encouraged.

3.1 Soil and fertility Management
a. Soil fertility shall be maintained by integrationoflegumesordeep-rootedplantsincroppingsystems,frequentuse of green manures, planned rotations and fertilization with on farm natural inputs.
b. Green manuring, legume cover crop/ intercropping, multi cropping, effective crop rotations and recycling of organic farm generated plant biomass through composting or mulching should form the basis of nutrient management.
c. Use of fermented dung-urine based, on-farm made microbial formulations shall form the basis for soil fertility management. In cases where farmers do not have livestock, such microbial inputs can be sourced from fellow farmers from within the local area of village/ GP.
d. Mulching is an essential component of natural farming. Mulching should be practised with on-farm biomass of natural farming source. Mulching with conventional biomass/ crop residue is prohibited. Plastic mulching is not allowed under natural farming systems.
e. On farm made cow slurry, composts etc. prepared from crop residue and animal wastes are allowed.

4.1 Insect, Pest and Weed Mangement
a. Insect pest and disease control should rely primarily on best management practices such as balanced soil fertility management, use of crops and varieties resistant to pests and adapted to local situations, diversity management, effective crop rotations, multi-cropping/ intercropping, green manures, manipulation of planting and sowing time and habitat manipulation through diversified plants, hedge rows, insectary plants, trap crops etc.
b. Pest problems may also be controlled through physical, mechanical and biological approaches such as (but not limited to):
i. Removal of infested plants/ parts,
ii. Collection and destruction of egg masses
iii. Use of Naturally available traps, yellow and blue sticky traps, pheromone traps etc.,
iv. Mechanical such as tilling, scrapping, hoeing
v. Installing bird perches
c. In cases where cultural and preventive approaches are not sufficient and there is imminent threat to the crop then plant protection products derived from plant or animal origin and prepared on-farm by using physical, mechanical or biological methods can be used.
d. Prophylactic application of plant extract based concoctions can be used.
e. Use of commercially made or purchased organic/ biological/ inputs shall be avoided.
f. Use of all synthetic chemicals in any form directly or indirectly is prohibited.

5.1 Contamination Control
a. Adequate measures are to be taken to prevent contamination through water, air drift or mixing through:
i. Separate storage in time and space both for inputs and farm produce
ii. Buffer zones between natural and conventional farms.
iii. Cleaning of tools before using in natural farm
iv. Any other measures suggested by the group or advised under certification programme

6.1 Transition / conversion Period and requirements for Transition
a. For a farm and its crop production products to be certified natural, it is mandatory that the farm has undergone a transition period of minimum 6 months.
b. In cases where the farm is located in traditional natural areas with no past history of chemical usage, entire area can be considered for condonation of transition period.
c. Farmers certified under any organic certification system can be certified directly under natural Farming certification without any transition period.

7.1 Livestock Production
a. Livestock production under natural farming systems is an integrated activity with crop production. Generally, farmers having no land are not considered for NF certification unless they have entered into agreement for continuous supply of naturally grown feed and fodder from certified natural farmer within the local area of village or Gram Panchayat.
b. Animals should have been born or hatched on natural farms and Breeding shall be through natural service.
c. Breeds adapted to local climatic conditions shall be selected for certification.
d. Livestock raised on non-natural units shall be subjected to conversion period of minimum six months and during this period they are reared fully on naturally grown feed and fodder.
e. Poultry birds reared for eggs and meat purpose shall be fed with natural farming feed from second day of hatching till the entire period of life.

7.3 Feed and Fodder
a. Livestock and poultry shall be fed with certified Natural farming / NPOP-Organic /PGS-Organic feed and fodder.
b. No synthetic feed, feed additives, appetizers, preservatives, colouring agent or products of solvent extraction or from genetically modified sources be used.
e. But in case of emergencies and to correct any deficiency, feed supplements from synthetic sources can be given on the prescription of veterinarian.

7.4 Health care
a. The livestock and poultry, in general, should follow the basic principles of preventive health and productivity management wherein the focus would be on preventing diseases, detecting underlying fertility and production problems and its correction primarily on correcting management, nutrition and sanitation. The health care shall be based on the following broad principles:
i. The choice of appropriate breeds suitable to environment
ii. Practices focused on encouraging strong resistance to disease and prevention of infections;
iii. The use of good quality feed, together with regular exercise and access to fodder/roughages, and/or open-air runs;
b. The use of veterinary medicinal products shall comply with the following principles:
i. All vaccinations required by law of the land shall be permitted.
ii. Where specific disease or health problems occur, therapeutic use of veterinary drugs are permitted under prescription and supervision of a registered veterinarian, provided that the double the mandatory withdrawal periods as prescribed for that drug is followed. In drugs where withdrawal period is not prescribed, a minimum of 48 hours of withdrawal period shall be observed;
iii. For purpose of treatment and prevention of diseases herbal/phyto- therapeutic (excluding antibiotics), homeopathic or ayurvedic products shall be preferred to allopathic veterinary drugs or antibiotics;
iv. In case alternative therapeutic or preventive measures are unlikely to be effective, allopathic veterinary drugs or antibiotics may be used under the responsibility and supervision of a veterinarian.
8 Processing and Handling
8.1 General Requirement
a.Processing methods allowed under natural farming systems are physical (such as grinding, milling, polishing, dal making, cold press oil extraction, heating, boiling etc), mechanical (use of machines for change of form such as atta making, dal making etc) or biological (such as fermentation)
b.All processing equipment and machinery should be properly washed and made contamination free.
c.All processing equipment and filtration aids shall be free from contamination.
d.Use of genetically modified organisms or their products are prohibited.
e.Measures should be in place to prevent possible mixing and contamination of natural farm products with others.
9.1 Packaging
i. All certified natural farm products should be traded in packaged form; however, perishable products such as fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products (fresh milk, curd, butter milk, Chach etc.) can be sold in loose but the sellers are required to keep adequate records to prove their certification status
ii. Preferably biodegradable, recyclable, reusable systems and eco-friendly packaging materials shall be used wherever possible
iii. Material used for packaging shall not contaminate food.
iv. The packages shall be closed in such a manner that substitution of the content cannot be achieved without manipulation or damage of the seal.

Natural Farming Certification System (NFCS)

Guiding Principles
Natural farming Certification system is based on self-declaration, stakeholder’s cooperative participation and trust using social and local institutional verification while eliminating the need for third party or any other external verification agency.
Under NFCS producers join the recognition system through on-line registration process, commit themselves to natural farming standards adoption, open the farm and processes to social and local institutional verification, submission of compliance verification on-line or off-line and get access to natural farming certificate digitally though automatic process. Natural Farming Certification System (NFCS) shall be voluntary and non-binding.
The scope of Natural Farming Certification System will be limited to crop production, livestock including honey production, and primary processing by individual farmers / group of farmers/ on-farm and/or off-farm processing by the individual and group of producers.
National Networking
Although, NFCS will be a decentralized recognition system for natural farming processes and products but to maintain the national identity, adoption of uniform standards across different geographies, transparency and end-to-end traceability, the NFCS will be documented, monitored and operated through an on-line digital portal accessible through computers, internet and mobile apps and controlled and managed by the NCONF.
Operational System:
Control Authority
The NFCS programme shall be operated under the overall control and guidance of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India with Secretary, Agriculture & Farmers Welfare as the apex decision making and appellate authority.
NFCS Executive Body (NFCS-EB)

The Secretary DA&FW shall constitute a National Executive Body for operation and management of NFCS system. The committee shall be headed by the Joint Secretary (INM) with members drawn from Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, QCI, APEDA, NCONF, lead state representatives and any other sector specific stakeholder as per the discretion of Secretary.

NFCS-EB being apex implementation, monitoring, evaluation and decision making body shall be responsible for:

a. Overall monitoring and supervision of programme implementation
b. Drafting policies, suggest modifications and amendments to NFCS operational structure and standards for approval of Secretary.
c. Coordination and monitoring national level capacity building, education, outreach and supervision activities.
d. Delegation of authority and duties to NFCS-India Secretariat.
e. Selection and Authorization of QCAs.
f. Supervision and monitoring on the functioning of QCAs.
g. Sanction/ withdrawal of authorization to QCAs on being found not functioning or not functioning according to the guidelines.
h. Constitution of technical and evaluation/ surveillance committees and assigning responsibilities.
NFCS Secretariat

National Centre for Organic and Natural Farming (NCONF) under Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW) shall be the NFCS National Secretariat with Director, NCONF as Executive Authority. Roles and responsibilities of the Secretariat will be as follows:

a. All executive and secretarial responsibilities.
b. Advise NFCS-EB on all technical and implementation issues.
c. Coordinate and facilitate evaluation and surveillance visits of duly constituted evaluation and surveillance committees, assessment of reports and submission of reports/ recommendations to NFCS-EB for necessary action.
d. Capacity building, education, training and outreach activities.
e. Monitoring and supervision on the activities of RCONFs and QCAs.
f. Custodian of entire NFCS database, NFCS portal and its operationalization.
g. Supervision of NFRS products through residue testing including collection of samples and getting those samples tested for residue analysis.
h. Appellate authority for operators against the actions and decisions of LEC and QCAs.
i. Literature development, publicity, technology dissemination and awareness creation through print and electronic media. Regional Secretariats

RCONFs under NCONF shall be the regional handholding and surveillance centers. Roles and responsibilities of RCONF-Regional Secretariat shall be here under:

a. Monitoring and surveillance of State level and district/ taluk level Quality Control Committees/ Agencies (QCAs).
b. Preparing annual/quarterly monitoring reports on all the QCAs under their jurisdiction and submission of report to Secretariat.
c. Provide up-dated documents, policies, literature and other technical input to QCAs for further information of LEC and operators.
d. Capacity building, training and outreach activities.
e. Complaint redressal of farmers and local groups against the functioning and actions of QCAs and LECs.
f. Appellate authority on complaints of certificate denial by QCA/ LECs or sanctions imposed by them, on complaints of traders/ retailers/ consumers on the quality/ integrity of natural farming products of particular group and action taken by or inaction of QCAs/LECs and submission of quarterly report to NFRS secretariat.
g. Monitoring of NFC products through residue testing.
h. RCONFs can also identify and authorize Local Executive Committee as per directions of NFCS EB for verification of NFCS at village and GP level.
i. Any other activity assigned by NFCS-EB and NFCS Secretariat.
State level NFCS-Coordination Committees

State Director of Agriculture/ Horticulture Department or any other authority and Department designated by the state shall constitute a state level NFCS coordination committee (NFCS-SLCC) comprising of members from concerned RCONF and other state line Departments. NFCS-SLCC shall be responsible for identification, facilitation and recommendation of district level QCAs and LECs.

Quality Control Authorities (QCAs):

NFCS-SLCC shall identify and authorize district level Quality Control Authority. QCAs can be appointed from KrishiVigyan Kendra (KVK)/ Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) / District level officers from Department of Agriculture/Horticulture, Deptt. Of Animal husbandry and Dairying (DAHD),National/State Rural Livelihood Mission (N/SRLM of MoRD), Co-operatives, any other central Government organization/State Government Dept. Major responsibility of QCAS will be identification and authorization of LECs in blocks/ GPs and supervision on the functioning of LECs.NFRS-SLCC and RCONF shall be the surveillance and evaluation bodies for QCAs and LECs.

Local Executive Committee (LEC):

QCAs can identify and authorize Local Executive Committee for verification of NFCS at village and GP level. LEC can be a two to three-member committee located at block and/ or GP level. For LEC, members can be drawn from local state or local Government persons, selected Farmer Producer Organizations or Farmer Producer Companies/well established organization like SHGs/Rural youth organizations/persons from locally functioning NGOs. LEC will be a facilitation agency and its prime role is to handhold and guide farmer/Groups/Processor as the case may be, for facilitating NFCS and verifies the compliance on being approached by the farmers/ groups. In cases where farmers/ groups do not have access to computer/ internet or smart mobile phones, the farmer/ group shall submit compliance assessment forms to LECs and LECs shall in turn upload the data on to NFCS portal.

Farmer / Farmer Group (FG):

Individual Farmer / Farmer group are the target beneficiary of this System.


Farmers / Groups/ Processors associated with NFS or other individuals having processing units exclusively meant for primary processing of Natural Farming Products can register their units on online portal / app of NFCS and claim necessary authorization under NFCS. Mandatory physical inspection of processing units is necessary before online authorization by QCAs. The processing units and their marketing activities with proper TCs and Barcode traceable mechanisms will be under the purview of QCAs appointed by NCONF/RCONFs/NFCS-SLCC.

Technical, evaluation and Surveillance Committees

NFCS-EB at its discretion can constitute technical committees, evaluation and surveillance committees for guidance/ recommendations on technical/ implementation aspects, for necessary evaluation and surveillance over various institutional stages and agencies. NFCS-EB at its discretion can also engage independent third party agency for assessing the efficacy of the system and analyzing its strengths, weakness, opportunities and Threats.