Saturday, January 22, 2011

Participatory Guarantee System

Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) is a process in which people in similar situations assess, inspect, and verify the production practices of each other and collectively declare the entire holding of the group as organic.
PGS introduced in India in 2005 by Organic Farmers India Association (OFAI). PGS is managed by PGS council of India. PGS council formed by a OFAI, IIRD, DDS,Key stone foundation and Timbaktu collectives. National Center for Organic Farming, Ghaziabhad supported PGS council.
Guiding principles:
  1. Participation
  2. Shared vision
  3. Transparency
  4.  Trust
  5. Horizontality
Advantages of PGS:
       The procedures are simple; documents are basic and use the local language understandable to farmers
       Farm inspectors are among the group and live in the same village, therefore have better access to surveillance
       Peer appraisal instead of third party inspections reduces cost
       Random residue testing at regular intervals ensures the integrity and increase the trust
  1. PGS certification is only for groups, not for individual farmers
  2. PGS is applicable only for crop production and animal husbandry
  3. PGS ensures traceability only up to farm gate 
  4. Only few countries recognizes PGS
Operational Structure proposed by NCOF, Ghaziabhad:

National Advisory Committee at DAC
PGS secretariat at NCOF 
Zonal Councils
Regional Councils
Facilitating agencies
       Local groups
                  Farmer/ Farm family
Regional Councils:
      Regional councils can ideally floated by state agencies, existing NGOs etc
      Should have at least 10 local groups
      Have access to printer and internet
      Have adequate financial resources
      Each RC will be recognized for  three years and renewable after every three year
Roles and Responsibilities:
      Training support
      Facilitate local groups in uploading data
      Issue IDs to local groups
      Issuing certificates to local groups

Local Groups:
      Group of farmers live in the same village or close villages and interact regularly with each other
      A local group should compromise of minimum 5 and not more than 50 members
      At least three members should have understanding on certification
      Holding of one member should not exceeds 1/3 rd of the total land under the group
      Parallel production and part conversion not allowed
Certification process:
Farmer:   Join local groups.  Take the organic farmer’s pledge.  Attends other key field days
Local group: Collates pledge, inspection, and decides attendance for each farmer.  Decide who will certified sends summary work sheet to regional councils
Local group peer inspection:  Scripted inspection/Peer appraisal, physically checks the field and confirm the practices
Regional Councils:  Checks for completeness of summary worksheet. Follow ups on any non-compliance issues raised.  Pass information to NCC. Issues certificates.   
National coordination committee: Maintains “Instant IDs”. Random pesticide residue testing.
New components proposed by NCOF for strengthening PGS:
      Residual testing: Samples will be tested for Pesticide residues
      Traceability:  All Details of farmer groups including pesticide residues tests will be placed in website
      PGS Website: Entire data will be kept in PGS website
What else needed to strengthen PGS in India:
·        Marketing support: marketing tie ups with organic firms is required to access higher premiums by the producers.

·        Creating awareness among the consumers:  Consumer awareness will play a critical role in increasing demand for organic products produce under PGS

·        Creation of human resources at village level: Efforts should made on creating human resources for providing technical support farmers

·        Mass campaigns: Mass campaigns are required to attract farmers into PGS

·        Using existing plot forms for up scaling PGS:  Existing community plot forms like SHGs, Farmers groups and producer companies have to explore for up scaling PGS.

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