Criticism on the concept of group certification is growing
Although group certifications are recognized by the EU Organic Regulation and the American National Organic Programme, criticism on the concept's integrity is growing. One of the reasons behind this is the great variety of group sizes, with some groups consisting of less than 100 members to other groups comprising (tens of) thousands. If the concerns about the ability of group certification to really guarantee compliance with international quality standards are not eliminated, group certification as one of the most powerful market access tools for small-scale farmers might soon be abolished. This would also highly complicate sourcing for businesses with small-scale contract farming.
Education and ICT are key for the credibility of the concept
In order not to let this happen, education of the groups’ internal auditors combined with the use of reliable information and communications technology (ICT) is key. Professional documentation and reporting skills and tools not only increase the likeliness of successful, credible certification, but will allow grower groups to transform into well-structured, transparent, reliable and sustainable market entities.
Professionalising group certification with Group Integrity
Group Integrity helps grower groups and businesses sourcing from smallholders to meet the administrative requirements of national and international markets. It is an affordable ICT tool that facilitates and stabilises the management of internal control systems. The tool increases the likeliness of successful certification, streamlines administrative procedures and allows its users to save on expenses and to improve economics.
Organic Services is an international strategy and management consultancy, specialising in the organic and sustainability sector. We focus on integrity solutions to combat fraud and misuse of quality claims. We draw on 30 years of experience and a global network on all continents. Our services for private companies and public institutions enhance sustainability, integrity and business success throughout the organic and sustainability sector. Our mission: more sustainability and transparency throughout the (food) supply chain. Following an interdisciplinary approach, we offer strategy and business development, market research, trade support, project, and event management. Visit the Organic Services website...
The tools Ecert Basic and Group Integrity facilitate the audit and certification management of grower groups and small, local certification bodies, making their surveillance systems more robust, transparent, efficient and competitive. Our non-analytic mass balance approach, Check Organic, reveals food fraud even before the product is sold on the market. The combination of the three systems Check Organic, Group Integrity and Ecert Basic considerably facilitates the collaboration between supply chain actors (for example between a farmer group and their external certification body). This creates synergies that can benefit the industry as a whole.
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