IFOAM - Organics International
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Influence the global requirements for group certification of smallholders

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Published on IATI
  • date_range May 01, 2019
  • autorenew Finalisation (Status)

In January 2019 a mayor change in the workplan of the policy component was proposed by IFOAM – Organics International and approved by the donor. Thus resources were reallocated to carry out activities related to the new EU regulation and to the new legal requirements for how internal control systems and group certification should be conducted that will be defined by the European Commission in 2019. The EU Commission is about to develop new detailed requirements for group certification in the new EU organic regulation which will be applicable from 2021 onwards. Some of their ideas for new requirements are extremely worrying for African smallholders: for example, the Commission has indicated that it would like to restrict group certification only to groups that are managed by farmer associations and cooperatives, whereas in Africa the dominant model of group certification is the one where groups are organised by processors and exporters. Such requirement, if it were to be adopted, would exclude most African organic smallholders from EU organic market access. There are also legitimate concerns about the reliability of group certification as it is currently implemented by organic certification bodies, and there is a real need to take stock of lessons learned from the past 1,5 decades of group certification implemented under regulated environments to review the practices of certifiers and propose refined requirements that will help ensure a quality and consistent implementation of the group certification approach. Therefore, the main activity that was implemented in Q6 was a technical event gathering global experts on group certification and organised with the very specific objective of producing policy recommendations based on sector consensus. The workshop took place in May 2019. A second workshop as well as a policy brief will follow. IFOAM – Organics International's pre-alert highlighting the major problems of some of the current basic Act and draft secondary legislation requirements for "groups of operators" was widely shared and received a lot of attention. It was taken up and the concerns noted by various relevant actors including e.g. Fairtrade International, ColeACP, ViaCampesinaEU etc. and IFOAM-EU highlighted all concerns in direct meetings with the commission and discussed the issue intensively in several expert panel meetings (which includes representatives from various member states). Mid November, before the COP meeting which discussed again draft secondary legislation on "groups of operators", IFOAM – Organic International and EU worked intensely to prepare a joint IFOAM position in time before the meeting and send out a joint "Input Paper" to the commission and all member states. The input paper is based on IFOAM – Organics International’s draft position and intense discussions within the IFOAM-EU expert group and update findings from intermediate meetings and communication with the Commission. In January 2020, through our IFOAM EU group, we have worked a lot with Latin-American embassies in Brussels. There were two physical meetings and one meeting of the embassies with the Commission’s Organic Unit. We are also working to advocate jointly with ACP countries and with the MOAN, and with FTAO and ColeACP. Now there is quite a lot of awareness of the possible consequences of the new rules for groups worldwide. The status of discussion is now the following: there is still the problem with the legal personality. There is some kind of openness for cooperatives, where an additional legal personality might be accepted, but there is close-doors for trader-led groups, which is our biggest concern, together with the size limitation.

  • Agricultural development

Participating Organisations

Netherlands - Ministry of Foreign Affairs Government Funding
IFOAM - Organics International International NGO Accountable
IFOAM - Organics International International NGO Implementing


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access_time Updated on Mar 18, 2020 09:54:42