News and Updates

21 Feb 2014

Organic Services presents “Group Integrity”

Munich, February 21th, 2014. In support of the UN International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), Organic Services presented the software solution, “Group Integrity”, at BIOFACH. Aimed at improving the livelihoods of small farmers around the world, Group Integrity solution facilitates the certification of smallholder groups and businesses with small producers under contract farming.

Empowering grower groups

There are some 500 million smallholder farms worldwide. Though many are managed according to organic principles individual small producers, especially those in developing countries, find certification too costly and time-consuming to be attainable. However, it is well known that by organising themselves in groups, the costs and time involved in certification is reduced, allowing smallholder farmers to be certified, and giving them access to local as well as national and international organic markets. This is why various groups and certifiers voluntarily developed group certification systems, sanctioned by the major organic regulations, e.g. EU, NOP. Group Integrity will help smallholder groups to organise the administration of internal control and quality assurance, and thus strengthen their market position in local, regional and international markets.

Group Integrity for a successful administrative structure of groups

Group Integrity is an innovated software with a focus on cost efficiency that helps to improve growers’ situation by reducing the burden of third party certification systems. It achieves this by supporting the management of several standards at the same time through the provision of multi-standard inspection checklists. With this innovation, grower groups become able to administer EU, NOP, JAS, Naturland, Bio-Suisse, Demeter, Fairtrade, UTZ Certified and GLOBALG.A.P standards and internal certification as preparation for external third party certification simultaneously.

Presented at BIOFACH, Group Integrity received considerable attention and high acclaim across all agricultural sectors, whether governmental, private or from NGOs.

Gerald A. Herrmann, director and founding partner of Organic Services declares: “It is not enough to hold conferences and to declare that unprivileged farmers need our support. We have to offer concrete solutions for tearing down administrative and cost barriers, and to open domestic and export markets.”

Meetings at BIOFACH allowed strengthened existing contacts and cleared the way for new partnerships from across the continents, especially from Brazil, India, Thailand and Malaysia, but also from African countries. Promising talks were conducted by Group Integrity Client Manager Melina Armijo, native of Honduras, with representatives from Latin America, e.g. an organic association from Argentina, a ministry from Nicaragua, the umbrella organisation of the Peruvian Quinoa farmers, regional export companies, consultants and a Swiss company conducting business in Latin America. 

Paul Espanion, Director of Ecofacilitações points out: “In Brazil there are plenty of producer groups, particularly of participatory guarantee systems. As the Implementation Partner for Group Integrity in Brazil, it is of particular importance to me that the software allows the administration of the internal certification and that it can be adapted to meet local requirements, e.g. the integration of the Brazilian organic checklist as well as local crops and products.”

Ong Kung Wai, Director of Organic Alliance Malaysia and Coordinator of Certification Alliance, a collaboration partnership of 10 local certification bodies working in Asia highlights: "CertAll partners as a group operate in many different countries. Group Integrity allows great flexibility regarding multi-lingual administration as harmonised checklists can be designed with different languages to facilitate domestic and export certifications.  Additionally, it allows internal inspectors to use tablet PCs offline, a great time saving functionality and source of pride for young village field workers to be associated with working with 'high tech' and not just agriculture."

Lea Michalczik, Group Integrity Client Manager and responsible for Africa and Asia, conducted various talks, among them representatives of Peermade Development Society, India. She adds: “Group Integrity is very helpful and necessary, because it enables the interfacing with APEDA’s Tracenet, an internet based electronic service facilitating process certification for export of organic products from India.”

Your contact: Gerald A. Herrmann (Director of Organic Services):  Tel: +49 89 820 759-06;;

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