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.
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