- The government’s 2015 PGS manual underlines that the system in India is based on participatory approach, a shared vision, transparency and
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Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS)
What is the Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS)?
- PGS is a process of certifying organic products, which ensures that their production takes place in accordance with laid-down quality standards.
- The certification is in the form of a documented logo or a statement.
- According to a 2008 definition formulated by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), PGSs are locally focused quality assurance systems that certify producers based on active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange.
Four pillars of PGS
The government’s 2015 PGS manual underlines that the system in India is based on participatory approach, a shared vision, transparency and trust.
- Participation: Stakeholders such as producers, consumers, retailers, traders etc are collectively responsible for designing and decision-making. Direct communication among the stakeholders helps create an integrity- and trust-based approach with transparency in decision-making.
- Shared Vision: Each stakeholder organisation or PGS group can adopt its own vision conforming to the overall vision and standards of the PGS-India programme.
- Transparency: Transparency is maintained through the active participation of producers in information-sharing at meetings and workshops, peer reviews, and involvement in decision-making.
- Trust: A fundamental premise of PGS is the idea that producers can be trusted. The trustworthiness includes a producer pledge made through a witnessed signing of a declaration, and written collective undertakings by the group to abide by the standards of PGS.
Advantages of PGS:
- Procedures are simple, documents are basic, and farmers understand the local language
- All members live close to each other and are known to each other. As practising organic farmers themselves, they understand the processes well.
- Because peer appraisers live in the same village, they have better access to surveillance; peer appraisal instead of third-party inspections also reduces costs
- Mutual recognition and support between regional PGS groups ensures better networking for processing and marketing.
- Unlike the grower group certification system, PGS offers every farmer individual certificates, and the farmer is free to market his own produce independent of the group.
- PGS certification is only for farmers or communities that can organise and perform as a group within a villageor a cluster of contiguous villages, and is applicable only to farm activities such as crop production, processing, and livestock rearing, and off-farm processing by PGS farmers of their direct products.
- Individual farmers or group of farmers smaller than five members are not coveredunder PGS. They either have to opt for third party certification or join the existing PGS local group.
- PGS ensures traceability until the product is in the custody of the PGS group, which makes PGS ideal for local direct sales and direct trade between producers and consumers.