PRESENTATION: PARTICIPATORY GUARANTEE SYSTEM (PGS) – DOMESTIC TRADE IN ORGANIC, LOCAL ORGANIC MARKET INITIATIVES
BY MR OLUWAFEMI .E. AYANFEOLUWA
Organic Agriculture entails the production methods that employ organic factors of production and adhire strictly to the principles of organic agriculture for production and qualify for certification.Organic agriculture is a crucial step to attaining stable human health at the level of every inhabitant on earth. It promotes foods that are biologically convertible and non-damaging to human health. Organic agriculture has its basic feature as it relies on local, renewable resources, efficient use of solar energy and the production potential of biological systems. Maintains or increase the fertility of the soil, recirculation of plant nutrients and organic matter, does not use substances foreign to nature, maintains genetic diversity in farming system and surrounding areas, gives farm animal’s life conditions that correspond to their ecological role and allows them natural behaviour.
There have been different lectures on the importance of certification during the summit, but this trainning session is aimed harmonizing all that there is to know about certification. Certification is as an accreditation exercise carried out in an organic system to ensure that all organic standards are practiced. There are three (3) levels of certification in organic agriculture:
- Third party Certification
- Participartory Guarantee System (PGS)
- Self acclaimed
Self acclaimed is a type of certification where it is only the farmer, farmer’s family and trusted friends that know that he is practising organic agriculture and patronizes him/her. Third party certification is a system of certification carried out mainly for the purpose of exportation. The standards for this certification vary with each country but they all have their bases from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) standards. This system of certification is expensive and most peasant farmers can’t afford it. Certification bodies that certify for each country have their Internal Control System (ICS) in countries where they are not present that help to ensure that organizations maintain their exportation standards.
The Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) is a form of organic certification system of regulation which is designed to ensure that organic producers comply with standards, quality of organic production and processing, prevent fraud and promote commerce. This Certification is for producers of organic foods and other organic agricultural products. Increase in the demand and popularity for organic produce and products has led to small farmers not only selling their produce to farmers market but also sells of organic produce in the supermarkets, exportation, etc. hence there is need for certification. Certification aids in giving a unified standard for production, processing, storage, labelling and marketing system. This helps in building the trust between the consumer and buyer and protect the genuine producer from unfair competition.
PGS is a type of certification and was implemented due to the cost implication of third party certification. This is a quality assurance system that uses its own standards which has its bases from IFOAM standards and these standards are adaptive to local conditions and inputs such as: communities, geographic area, culture, market structures, methods of exhibition, etc. This involves an agreement between stakeholders in the agriculture chain (the farmer, the certification body, the researchers the middle man and the consumer); members are guided with a set of rules and common vision which is based on trust (no cheating, timely delivery, worthiness, sharing of common ideas, respect and value). However PGS is not a substitute for Internal Control System (ICS) or third party certification.
Training and equipping participants with the knowledge, skill and how participants can form domestic trade and market initiatives in organic agriculture.
1.1 The Philosophy of PGS
Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) shares the same common goal with third party certification system which is to provide a credible guarantee system for consumers of organic products, however the difference in approach is that PGS allows for participation of all stakeholders involved from the farmers to the consumers while third party certification doesn’t.
1.2. PGS Fundamentals
VISION: A common vision brings stakeholders in PGS together for goals to be achieved.
TRUST: trust involving mutual understanding, inclusiveness and balanced share division among members
PARTICIPATION: There is a direct involvement between parties and checking on what has been agreed on before anything is being carried out.
TRANSPARENCY: Stakeholders are transparent and open in all activities carried out.
LEARNING PROCESSES among the stakeholders to understand better what is involved in achieving the set goals.
1.3. PGS Key Element
The key element in PGS is the rule of HORIZONTALITY which implies that everyone in this group is on the same level; no one is superior to the other.
1.4. Features of PGS
- Norms and values are conceived by stakeholders
- This has a grassroots organization.
- It is appropriate for small farm holders
- Documentation of inputs/activities/farm practices/profits/ income and expenses (appropriate record keeping).
- There should be a mechanism to verify farmer’s compliance e.g unscheduled visits to the farms.
- Mechanism for supporting farmers for instance paying upfront for farm production.
- Farmer’s pledge; a set of rules stated out which the farmer reads and appends his/her signature to it.
- Seal/ label
- Clear and previously defined consequences, for instance suspension/expelsion for a defaulting partner
1.5. Groups Involved in PGS
- Farmer’s family
- Local group- the executives among a group of farmers.
- Regional council
- National certification committee for instance National Organic Agriculture of Nigeria (NOAN).
1.6 Role of Local Group in PGS
- This the local contact point for PGS.
- They coordinate the inspection of members.
- Local support network for members like sharing experiences and assistance.
- Decision making for certification.
- Action against fraud or non-compliance where the nature of punishment is dependent on the level of fraud.
- Ensures that individual farmers sign his/her pledge and it is collected and sent to the regional council.
- Tenders report on recent developments among the farmers periodically could be yearly.
1.7. Steps in Certification
- Read the standards and pledge then sign.
- Inspection among peers to ensure that practices are in accordance to standards.
- Decision on appraisals.
- Issuance of certificate and it is valid for one year and renewed annually.
- Random pesticide sampling.
1.8 Feed Backs
- Can there be central certification system for exportation into all the country? By Mr. Musa Labaran
- Is there any exportation/importation standard for organic products in Nigeria? By Mr. Abara
- What is the difference between PGS and ICS? By Engr. Keyen Neol
- Can NOAN partner with ADP to train local farmers to form organic farmers group? By Mr Victor Edame
- How feasible is it for consumers to partake actively in PGS? By Mrs. Sadiq
- What is the qualification for people in peer inspection? By Engr. Keyen Neol
- How flexible in the horizontality that exist among stakeholders in PGS? By Engr. Keyen Neol
- All the organic standards are drafted from IFOAM but there are variations with respect to each country, therefore they can’t be a central certification body for all the countries. Mrs choima Okeke further explained that different certification per country is due to the specific needs of each country which may not be stated in IFOAM standard, stating that even in professional certifications different requirements are needed per country
- Yes there is thou it is currently under review.
- ICS operates under the third party certification bodies, it serves as an internal check if the organizations certified abide under the rules of third party certification, ICS doesn’t have the ability to certify for operation at any level but PGS does.
- Yes NOAN can that is why ADPs of participating states were invited.
- This is very feasible since pgs certification is mainly carried out within a locality, however it may not be all the customers that may be involved but may have representatives such as middleman.
- The peer inspector does not need any qualification, the peer inspector is usually one of the stakeholders used as an internal check to ensure that stakeholders adhere to the rules.
- Kate Kibarah of kates organics of Kenya explained this question with respect to what is obtainable in Kenya, stating that the flexibility of the horizontality of stakeholders is possible because most of the stakeholders are already members of the Kenya organic agriculture movement and they already understand what is obtainable in PGS. Therefore better knowledge of organic agricultural practices helps in easy involvement and defined boundaries.
- Kate kibarah suggested that if countries in west Africa come together to form a unified certification body for west Africa, exportation of organic products within in west african countries will be easy as this is obtainable in east Africa.
The PGS Training will assist in domestic trade in organic agriculture and bring about local network between farmers through local organic markets initiatives by training them on national and local standards. Farmer’s involvement may however increase if there is assurance of a ready market for their produce and consumers increase if they are sure they would get value for their money. Therefore increase in the awareness of the practice and benefit of organic agriculture is necessary increase stakeholders in the organic agriculture value chain in any geographical location.