IFOAM - Organics International launches Group Certification Requirements Review

Group Certification Consultation

IFOAM - Organics International is launching an urgent multi-stakeholder process to refine Group Certification Requirements

Group certification is the dominant approach for organic certification of smallholder farmers in developing countries. Currently, it is used to certify millions of farmers worldwide. Group certification is done through Internal Control Systems (ICS), which allow certification bodies to delegate the annual inspection of individual group members to a specified body within the certified operator.

Internationally harmonized requirements for how group certification is practiced were developed at the start of this millennium thanks to an international multi-stakeholder process facilitated by IFOAM – Organics International. These requirements have subsequently been taken up by the various organic regulations and can be found in the IFOAM Accreditation Requirements. Additionally, group certification is practiced in other socio-environmental schemes, such as fair trade, UTZ-Rainforest Alliance, or FSC.

evaluating lessons learned

After 15 years of implementation, there are lessons to be learned about how effective current group certification requirements are and where they could be refined. The Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL has just completed a study on the subject, highlighting some important conclusions. Following the publication of the new EU organic regulations in May last year, the EU Commission is now planning to develop further guidance for group certification, which will also allow for group certification within the EU.

It is therefore a timely moment for IFOAM - Organics International to open a multi-stakeholder consultation process to review, harmonize, and refine group certification requirements. This process will take place in the coming weeks, under the framework of the OM4D Project funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

HOW to participate in the consultation

If you would like to be involved in the consultation, please visit our consultation page and take the survey before April 24, 2019 or send us an email at ogs [at] ifoam.bio (subject: Group%20Certification%20Consultation%20Suggestion%2FRequest) stating your name, organization and country, as well as your requests/suggestions for us to consider when developing further guidance on this topic.

See the consultation page here

Take the survey here. We advise to first look at the survey content by viewing the pdf version of the survey here.

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