📒 A Guide to Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) for Organic Agriculture!

Tobias Fernandes is a farmer in Tres Cachoeiras, south of Brazil. Tobias is a member of Rede Ecovida de Agroecologia a local network that adopts Participatory
Guarantee Systems for Organic Agriculture. PGS are locally focused quality assurance systems. They certify producers based on
active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks, and knowledge exchange. Today, Tobias is receiving a delegation of other Ecovida members. The are farmers like him but also consumers and agronomists. And together they will carry out a peer review of his farm. Peer review is a process whereby
people in similar situations assess the production practices of their peers. Peer review is at the core of
Participatory Guarantee Systems. It means that the quality control
is not carried out by an external inspector but by members of the same group. And so it is other farmers
together with local consumers who assess the production
practices adopted by Tobias and decide if they meet the organic
standards adopted by the group. IFOAM – Organics International recognises
the full diversity of Organic Agriculture including different forms of verification. Different operators in different markets
need different solutions. Participatory Guarantee Systems
provide a credible guarantee for consumers seeking organic products while
also meeting the needs of small farmers. In this video we will learn from examples
of four different PGS initiatives. The first, Nature et Progrès
is probably the probably the oldest known PGS. It has been operational for over 40 years and
involves 800 producers and processors in France. We had established a participatory guarantee
system but it was not yet called that. It just emerged like that, naturally. We would inspect producers
who were members of Nature et Progrès. It is still done in the same way, by a duo composed
of one consumer and one producer. Other members can join too, it is not limited to the duo. At one point, all of us, Nature et Progrès and IFOAM supported these participatory guarantee systems,
by creating the PGS guide. And it was incredible because we realized
that also in other countries there were people, producers, consumers, who were working the same way
to certify organic produce. We were in the same movement, it was magic. Rede Ecovida de Agroecologia in the south of Brazil has developed a participatory guarantee system over 30 years ago. Rede Ecovida was created in 1998 gathering initiatives that were already
producing, selling, processing, organic products. And it introduced participatory certification. The first conversations about certification
started in the late 1980s, early 90s. Then we launched, at the ecological farmer’s market of Porto Alegre,
the logo Participatory Farmer-Consumer certification. Ecovida saw this experience as a method of certification that was more coherent with its agro-ecological principles. In participatory certification we are not delegating our ability
to ensure the organic quality of products to a third party We are saying that we are able,
in an organized way and with our own method to ensure the integrity, the organic quality of our products. This is the main trigger of participatory certification: To maintain coherence with principles of agro-ecology
and to ensure to the consumer the quality of organic products. Others adopted PGS after learning about the concept from IFOAM like the Bryanston Organic and Natural Market in South Africa. If we look at the history of PGS in South Africa
or PGS in this region it was really inspired by what IFOAM did, as part of their identifying of PGS. In the early 2000s when they realized
there was an alternative guarantee system being used world-wide as an alternative
to third party certification. When consumers started becoming more aware They became more demanding,
demanding from the market a credible guarantee. The papaya growing Sabeto Organic Producers Association, in Fiji recently started to implement a
participatory approach to organic guarantee. Firstly, it seems that PGS is a low cost certification method. If you are dealing with third party certification if you don’t have the money you will have problems getting them in. Secondly, PGS organizes the farmers. It brings them to work together. Thirdly, PGS has enabled all this training
by all these experienced farmers. In the third party, the auditors come
look at your documents, visit your farm and they’re gone. So, why do the different stakeholders get together to start a PGS? 95% of our farmers in Fiji supply the conventional market. That means the use of chemicals, synthetic fertilizers. And then you’ve got the organic papaya We use a lot of composted material,
animal waste. They wanted to use PGS as a
stepping stone to third party certification eyeing the possibility of the
US market opening up for organic papaya. If you look at the European market and the US market these people are all certified by third party certifiers. And eventually that’s where we want to get to. We know the demand is there. We know people will pay a
premium price for a premium product. It’s very popular because everybody
now wants to know what we are doing And are very interested, all our customers
are joining us to see what we are doing it’s very nice and we love it. I am a wine-grower of the 13th generation in this village. I came to know Nature et Progrès in 1976. I had already known about the Lemaire-Boucher method
but I joined Nature et Progrès because those two words, nature and progress, appealed to me immediately. There is this notion of dynamism,
the word “progress” means we should not stay still. Its strong point is this teaming of consumers and producers. For me that’s a strong point, because
in third party inspection they look at your bills, at your land, they check that you did not cheat, and that’s it. There is no technical knowledge exchange,
no possibility for technical improvements. PGS makes it so that a producer is not
unsettled when meeting the inspection team. Instead they can open up and say:
I did it like this but I’m stuck, what can we do? This teaming up makes us progress.
It’s Nature et Progrès, we move forward. The advantage of the network is the various exchanges. We can improve, exchange information and knowledge, how to grow certain varieties, how to produce native seeds. Also the relationship between farmers and consumers,
the network allows exchange with consumers. This develops into something wider. We visit other regions. This exchange of experiences adds
value and knowledge for the families. And for us to improve the quality of the products. Finally, the network is accredited by the Ministry
which helps a lot, for marketing. At the farmer’s markets we have direct contact with the consumer. But when we place a product in a store, a shop… Then it is the logo that guarantees that the product is organic. Selecting the organic standards to adopt
is an important step when starting a PGS. Some initiatives even develop their own standards. Which they also regularly review. My name is Patricia Biau and I invite you
to the review of the N&P standards for animal husbandry. Reviewing the standards of N&P is a participatory process. It includes all members, producers as well as consumers. They are all encouraged to express
their opinions on technical aspects of the standards. This participatory dynamic characterizes the N&P standards. What is also interesting about the standards
is their educational dimension. They are a result of a common effort by all members
and are used by them for the inspections and farm visits. Nature et Progrès is a collective brand that brings together
farmers, artisans, producers and sellers and also citizens who seek another way of consuming. Nature et Progrès is an old association, one of
the pioneers of Organic Agriculture in France. A kind of agriculture that developed
after the end of the Second World War. Nature et Progrès was born as a reaction
to the industrialization of agriculture, an industrialization that was enforced
by laws passed in 1960 and 1962. It was in 1972 that Nature et Progrès would lay
the written foundations of the standards that aimed to shape an agriculture
without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. And it was in 1972 that one of the first standards emerged
to regulate what we would call Organic Agriculture. The Nature et Progrès charter recognizes the holistic vision from an agronomic as well as an
environmental and social point of view. This allows for addressing various
matters such as worker relationships or such as economic dominance… Or such as the energy saving, renewable energy, eco-construction… …seasonality. These are broad matters that allow for discussion between members and inspectors on the objectives of Nature and Progrès. What is Rede Ecovida? Ecovida is a network that brings together farmers, consumers, NGOs from three southern states of Brazil:
Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. The area of these three states is about 600 thousand km2. It is like a country and not a small country. And in that universe, Ecovida is organized. It is important to stress that
Ecovida is not a structure set up for PGS. We have an understanding that PGS
is one of the services the network provides. But the goal of Ecovida is to promote agroecology. To the inside, for its members and areas of activities,
and to the outside world, so that agroecology can become a production system that is increasingly
adopted by other producers and accepted by society at large. The network has a very important role in making sure that the knowledge of the producers,
the traditional knowledge that has been lost, that such knowledge is recovered to support
the development of agroecology. The first key element of PGS is this: a Shared Vision. Most start from grassroots organizations. They are guided by principles aimed at
the well-being of farmers, fair relations with consumers and the promotion of Organic Agriculture. The Bryanston market is quite a unique animal. It has had a very loyal consumer support base for 40 odd years. It was based on the principles of bio-dynamic agriculture based on the principles of anthroposophy through the
Michael Mount Waldorf School that it’s very closely aligned to. We were taking it to the organic market
in Bryanston at the Waldorf school and then we were at the gate selling
to the parents when they come in with the kids. To get 30 Rand a day was a fortune! I am a consumer, I am a regular shopper there. I am there every Thursday to buy my organic produce. There was already a place for the farmers to access there was already a demand for produce and the market
was committed to creating a system that had integrity. Personally, I prefer to have a relationship with the farmer. Nature et Progrès professional members agree
in their contracts to participate in the activities of the PGS. The PGS is only effective thanks to this agreement. If people did not agree, the credibility
of the system would be questioned. Take for example a new farmer who wants to join SOPA. First they will need to write a letter to register
their interest in becoming an organic farmer. SOPA has to do some training with them
on what is organic farming. They need to be trained on the Pacific Organic Standard and if they are committed, they need to
say the pledge, understand the pledge, make sure the pledge is meaningful to them
and then they sign the pledge. I will always cherish my resources and environment
I will protect I will love my neighbor and honor the standard I will use my land to be productive
so that the future generation will prosper. The meaning of the pledge to us SOPA members,
is that we believe in the group members. Firstly when we wake up in the morning,
we do our pledge, then we go to our papaya farms. The pledge is what we promise. It’s just like a spiritual job to us. We realized that farmers were organized for the production So we needed to organize ourselves as consumers for consumption. This is how the Cooperative of Ecological Consumers was born. This is a much closer relationship because I know that when I come here and buy a banana,
I know who the producer is I have visited his banana plantation, I know they work correctly. When I buy lettuce, I know its producer, I have visited the garden.
We have a very close relationship with producers. Trust is another key element of PGS. It refers to the integrity of the farmer. By taking a pledge or signing a registration document the farmer commits to the shared values. Consumers share their commit by being loyal to the market or by becoming members of the organization. Now let’s look at how PGS is put into practice. What are the essential processes and how are they carried out? My name is Eliane Anglaret, I’m the president of Nature et Progrès. Nature et Progrès is an association, a federation of 27 groups, soon to be 29 probably. In these groups we have members who are producers, who use the logo. We also have members who do not use the logo, the consumers. They participate in disseminating
the vision, promoting the federation taking part in the PGS, in the inspections. The federal PGS office is established at the national level. It is composed of one or several representatives
of each local PGS commission. The federal PGS office is responsible
for granting the use of the N&P logo based on N&P standards, its Charter
and the rules on the use of the logo. All new requests for certification are
made through the certification unit. The staff sends an information package to the applicant. It includes: Standards, Charter, contract
and fees related to the use of the logo. When the package is returned
the certification unit assigns a local PGS Commission or a paid inspector to carry out the assessment visit. The new member is given the right
to use the logo only after the assessment visit, based on the decision of the local commission, which is then
confirmed by the certification unit. Depending on the history of practices of a member a conversion period of one to three years may be required. This is case-by-case, there is no general rule
for the conversion period. For new applicants or in the beginning of each year a contract is sent for them to sign. With the contract, the member agrees to follow our Standards, to adhere as closely as possible to the ethics of the N&P Charter, to provide access to all necessary documents during a visit, and to participate in the activities of Nature et Progrès. In regions where there is a local PGS commission, after the visit the members of the commission gather for a meeting. The inspectors orally present the assessment report and all discuss on the practices of producers,
manufacturers, the necessary improvements. This is when the local PGS commission decides on the certification. In regions where there is no local PGS commission,
where members are isolated, the report is assessed by a staff member of the certification unit. One person is in charge of the inspection, and is accompanied by another person, a consumer or a producer. This other producer can also be a new producer who is inexperienced and can get used to the inspections, train themselves gradually. We carry out inspections, peer reviews,
we have specific tools like the “NESO compass” which we use at the end of a review, in order to bring it
to another level compared to a simple technical inspection that would be limited to technical points of the standard. This approach is more global, I would even say agro-environmental. In the Gard region, we developed support sheets to help us like a pilots’ checklist, don’t forget to check this and that… But since we are working on transparency, on improving practices this is not the most important. What is important is what we feel, it’s the person we visit. This is what surprised me at the start and
what I still find reassuring, That the person being visited points out uncertainties,
doubts, things we might not notice otherwise. They say, “Oh I encountered this or that problem…” This is what creates dialogue,
what leads to finding solutions together. Once the report is completed they fill in the summary sheet. This sheet recaps products for which
the logo is granted, any comments…. Then they summarize their observations, such as non-conformities If there were non-conformities, which improvements were made
during the year, and those that are needed. This summary sheet is signed by the inspectors
and the member being visited. The member keeps one copy and the other is sent
to the PGS commission and then to the certification unit. At the level of the local PGS commission,
the competence is collective. There is always various points of view around the table. There are consumers, more or less experienced. Even if they are not producers, they can be really aware
or even experts in a certain area. There are producers from all areas,
beginners and very experienced ones. It’s the whole that constitutes a true collective intelligence. If there are non-compliances, fraud or if there are questions raised,
sometimes it can be just some questions raised, We call upon the federal office through the certification unit,
who will note the non-compliance or question raised, or problem or litigious case, for which we must debate and deliberate. The unit delegates the matter to the federal office
which represents the local PGS commissions. From there, together, we are able to discuss the case
and make a decision on the certification in favor or not, or request improvements if needed. Sometimes we organize inspection trainings. We try to organize one each year. Often people train themselves at the field level. For a new producer who joins the group in the first year we suggest that they participate in at least one or two inspections. If they are motivated and available it could be more. By coming along they can be part of a team
or join an already existing team. It allows them to be part of the group, to visit farms to get to know the inspection process
and train themselves little by little. After one, two or three years they feel more confident
and can themselves lead an inspection. The Ecovida network works through its Regional Nuclei. The Regional Nuclei are the network’s operating areas. These are formed by associations of farmers, usually the Nuclei have five, six, eight,
sometimes more than ten associations of farmers; cooperatives of producers, and some have technical assistance institutions, NGOs… A cooperative or association might have its own technical staff. So the regional nuclei are where things really happen in Ecovida. Farmers markets, marketing, meetings, technical exchanges, opportunities for debate and decision, all take place there. The network provides a space where these nuclei come together,
which we call the Plenary of Nuclei. The nuclei get organized and attend the plenary sessions
through their representatives to make decisions which are above
the decisions made within the nuclei. The network also organizes every two years
the Expanded Meeting of Rede Ecovida. This gathers between 1500 to 2000 families, all members of Ecovida. This is a space for decision-making and fellowship, to create the identity of Rede Ecovida. The Brazilian legislation established the
Brazilian System of Organic Production, or SISOrg. Within this system PGS is recognized
at the same level as third party certification. Ecovida, through the Ecovida Association for Participatory
Certification, is recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure the organic quality of its members’ produce. Therefore we have to keep records according to the law. We have a small office where we keep these records,
which are created in a participatory way by the very farmers, men and women, who visit each other and generate the credibility of their organic produce. These records are compiled by the Regional Nuclei
and sent to Ecovida’s office, which organizes this material
and forwards it to the Ministry of Agriculture. Through this process farmers gain the right to market their product as organic, as ecological. The network certification process begins within the group. The group has an ethics council, which carries out
the peer review or inspections on the properties at least once per year, to see if all is well, and to support the producer with any difficulty they might face. After that, we receive a visit from the verification commission which means that once a year producers from other regions come to visit and review our farms. It’s a long process but I think it provides more credibility than a technician who visits a property once a year, takes a few leaves of vines and a handful of earth, and doesn’t come back for another whole year. Furthermore, the group is collectively responsible. Because if something serious happens to a producer from the group,
the entire group loses certification. I participate in the coordination of the Ecovida certification. The Ecovida system is participatory which means that all participate
in the certification process Producers, consumers, traders, they all take part in the certification. Ecovida is accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture or MAPA
to provide participatory certification. At the end of each year MAPA inspects Ecovida. First to check the documentation then to visit properties to re-certify Ecovida within the Ministry. As a coordinator of the nucleus,
I am a member of the ethics council, the verification commission which checks the documentation process
and manages the certificate itself. We also support the families. We not only visit to check what they do, to inspect. But also to support their improvement. Sometimes there are families who are just starting
and they need a lot of support, of information. The exchange of knowledge between groups also helps the improvement. If a member of the network or someone who is certified, is not visited then this producer starts to settle, and mistakes can happen. But with the network the producer is always active. The group gathers and the process is corrected. In my group we are five families. We can improve things ourselves, sometimes we don’t need
to get to the end of the network to solve an issue. It is solved right there, with the producers. At first, farmers from the same group visit each other. Then farmers from one group, with their representatives,
visit farmers of another group. We regard this peer review in two levels as the core
of our certification system. And sometimes in some Regional Nuclei,
consumers also join and take part in such visits. We consider that when consumers are involved
there is a third level of compliance verification. Then we have other actors, consumers,
checking the organic work done by the farmers. We have the membership documents,
the records of each farm with information about each property. It has the address and other data of each farmer,
such as property data, the size, the products… These are part of the certification system.
Plus there are also details about the family. This is all typed into a spreadsheet
so that we have an overview of all members. And this is the document that approves the certification
or the renewal of the certification for the group. It has the names of the family members
that are registered with the Ministry of Agriculture who was visited, if it was the entire group or a sample visit,
and the signatures of everyone Of the farmers who were visited in the group
and the network’s Evaluation Committee. We constantly receive documents here. The 28 nuclei of the network constantly send documents
so that the information can be processed. Then we send it to the Ministry of Agriculture if they are complete. If a document is missing or unclear, or if there are any non-compliances,
we contact the nuclei to clarify. Then we can register the family in the national system of organic producers. If I do something wrong on my property all members of that group will be harmed because of what I did. All members of the group must act correctly. Because we have all made a commitment
to each other and to the consumer. So PGS, its basically the farmers themselves that guarantee the system, that it works. So you’ve got a group of 20 farmers. They go through a peer review which is going to each and every one of these farms and critiquing and looking at any issue with the farmer. Maybe he’s incompliant with
some of our rules, that they can pick out. So it’s quite stringent. They make sure that all the farmers follow the organic standard. Our organic standard has been extracted from
the Pacific Organic Standard that’s recognized by IFOAM. So my role as a coordinator and my other
colleague who is the Certification Manager We are actually going to provide the certificates to these farmers. We are basically telling theses farmers that
they have complied with all the rules and regulations That they’ve come up to the point where they’ve ticked all the boxes. With the PGS we are basically certifying ourselves using the Pacific Organic Standard. Instead of getting an audit from the certifier in a PGS, the auditing mechanism is called Peer Review. In the case of Sabeto Organic Producers Association they have seven farms all located right next to each other. And what they will do is they will go through the checklist and the eight farms will go to each
of the farmers and go through the checklist to see if they are complying with the Pacific Organic Standard. These guys may decide how many times
they want to do the audit in their farms. But for Third Party it’s usually once a year. Unless you’re not doing something right. Then they are saying “we want to come back again a second time a year”. But we are not trying to compete because in some markets you have no choice, you have to do the Third Party. But for New Zealand and Australia
they are not a regulated organic market. So it means that if you have a buyer in those countries who trusts PGS, then you can sell. We make sure that we liaise a lot with POETCom who is like the other organization that validates and monitors our system. Apart from that we’ve got the Fiji Organic Association which is also another organization that looks after and monitors the system with us. But a lot of the work and a lot of this, even the data recording and all this documentation
is done solely by the farmers. So by the time we get to POETCom
and Fiji Organic Association we’ve pretty much already done the bulk of the stuff. So they’re there just to make sure that we’re following the rules and regulations until we take that further step to get it certified for export. We are allowed as a PGS community to make our own decisions. And that’s one of the fantastic things about PGS That you own the decisions as a group that you make There is nobody else telling you “okay, that’s it”.
We can make our own decision. That’s fantastic because the market can help fund the PGS. And it’s got all the administrative capacity to support the PGS. But what can happen is that the market then starts running the PGS. And that’s absolutely no good for the market to be the one who decides everything. Because then it is no longer a PGS
and then it’s no longer an assurance system. So we have to work very hard
to make sure that the farmers participate and that there is a horizontal structure. So what we did last year is we voted in a committee so that the decisions about who is being inspected
and what farms we are going to go to and how we work is not decided only by the market, it’s decided by the committee. Most of the people that are in this kind of practice we did not go for training from colleges but from our farm visit, that’s where we learn, come and implement what we have just shared from the previous visit. So we go with the farmers and we send out the form again, every year you have to complete the form again or update it because you might be changing, if you’re using a certified organic input,
you might have changed your supplier. You might have added on produce
that you weren’t growing before. You might have a different supplier for your seeds. So they fill out the form again and that form is distributed to
the committee members before the visit. And then we go out to the farm. We use the form as our guide. Because it’s part of how we ensure
our compliance with the standards that we choose to adopt. It guides us through, makes sure we’re asking all the questions, that every section, plant production, soil health, the environment… The fantastic thing about Organic Agriculture is
that it’s not just about plants and soil. It’s also about social justice. There is a section in the form that talks about
“are you compliant with the labour legislation?” “are you hiring children under the age of 15?” It talks about the environment. “Have you got any endangered species on your farm?” and “what do you do to ensure they are protected?” So what we do is we sit down at the end of a visit and we say “okay are there any questions?” Because again there is no point in somebody going away from the farm and then saying “I wasn’t happy with that” and “I didn’t like that” They must come, it’s a transparent system,
they must sit down and they must face the farmer and say “why do you do that? you need to explain to me
because it doesn’t make me feel comfortable” And that honest transparency is very, very nice to witness. So we sit around and talk about any of our concerns and then we say “okay are we ready to make a provisional decision?” And if we are, we go around the table and say
“are you happy, any concerns?”… And then we list any redress action
like if there’s a soil test that’s outstanding… or a variety of possible redress actions that they might need to do. And then they have a provisional decision verbally. Then generally I go back to the office and
make sure that the documentation is in place. That they’ve got a signed pledge… We also, this year are going to push it a little bit more, But we invoice the farmers 200 Rand for the farm visit, so that must be paid at the end of the visit. Once that’s all in place then we issue a certificate. So on the certificate it confirms that the farmer
is growing according to organic principles and then we list the vegetables that were growing
and that the farmer plans to grow the next season. From my experience there is no better system that can be used other than PGS, it’s open to everybody. These key PGS elements are self-explanatory. Horizontality, Transparency and Participation. Stakeholders are engaged through rotating collective responsibility and provide support for farmers to collect and share information. The group defines the norms adopted so everybody has a good understanding of the organic standards and of the consequences of non-compliance. Well documented practices and engagement in peer reviews ensure that the mechanisms to verify compliance are established and accessible to all. The consumer perspective The involvement of the consumer in agriculture is one of the main benefits of Nature et Progrès. But it is also about escaping the isolation. Because when we are inspected only by a third party we receive an inspector for 3 or 4 hours. We show our invoices, go to see the fields,
but there really are no technical solutions brought forth. The PGS allows for problems to be detected and discussed. And for getting the views of consumers. As a farmer, when I visit a field I see if the soil is alive,
if it is well worked, if it is well maintained. But a consumer will see if there are butterflies,
birds, flowers, and things like these. So there is more coherence, a broader view of the farm
than in a classic inspection. There is a set of sanctions
however it is used more as a reference guide. Because these are not simply binary yes or no issues. As in yes you have the logo, or no you don’t. We try to listen to the member, to their
problems and difficulties that may be temporary. From there we are able to advise them or give them a schedule that will allow them to improve. Because we are well aware that
one often needs time to improve one’s skills, to progress. I always remember my first visit. We visited an experienced farmer,
who had recently moved to the region. At one point we entered the greenhouse
and there were wonderful tomato plants. And it took off from there, from something
I had no idea about, invasions of red spiders. And there was a small chat on how to solve the problem. Just by spraying or something like that… And I told myself “wow, this is the future”. Knowing how to communicate like
“I tried this and it worked or did not work”. For me that’s what is really rewarding. PGS allows producers to be in contact. During a farm visit we are in the mindset of an inspection We are collecting information on how the farm works
and the activities of the producer. But we are also searching solutions for possible problems. The process within the network is interesting
because the families visit each other. In these visits they help each other,
sometimes one has a problem, then how to solve it? This process helps improve production and adapt to changes. The participatory system allows all farmers, even small scale to obtain certification with better organization,
more participation and more social control. When consumers visit farmers, and farmers visit one another, there is a better exchange of knowledge and production practices. A Learning Process is another key element of PGS. The Learning Process unfolds through
the exchange of ideas and experiences and becomes an ongoing dynamic of PGS. The logo is a form of recognition. But what is important is that the consumer knows what is behind it. Right now, we have left agriculture too much to farmers
and to the vendors of death that are behind it. People don’t know what they are eating. I think if people entered the one thousand cow farms or those where there are 350.000 chicken they would lose their appetite
and go see a Nature et Progrès farmer instead. From the moment you have the Ecovida logo
your product is seen with new eyes by the consumer. Both at the farmers’ market and at other markets
that require the organic produce to be certified. This becomes an identity for both the product and the producer. Each PGS initiative is unique. Created to fit the context in which it operates. At the same time all PGS have in common key elements and features. The key elements are Shared Vision, Trust, Horizontality,
Transparency, Participation and a Learning Process. And the features are Grassroots Organizations, Principles that enhance livelihoods, Pledges Norms conceived by all stakeholders, Clear, pre-defined consequences
for non-compliance, Documented management systems and procedures, Mechanisms to verify compliance, Suitable to
smallholders agriculture, Mechanisms to support farmers and Seals or labels as evidence of organic status. In every visit we learn something from the others. This is why this certification system is so important. It is a market demand that we must be certified. So if we must be certified, I believe this is the most practical
and cheapest way for us smallholders. There are now PGS initiatives in more than 50 countries. There are various approaches to the development of participatory guarantee systems. And a good way to get started is by understanding the context in which a new PGS would operate. IFOAM-Organics International offers many resources to support PGS. Visit our website to learn more.

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