New agreement with IFOAM – Organics International to improve mountain livelihoods
1 June 2018, Rome, Italy – IFOAM - Organics International and FAO signed an agreement to improve the livelihoods of rural peoples, including mountain smallholders, by strengthening market access and value chains for small-scale producers, enhancing the conservation and use of biodiversity and reducing food loss and food waste.
The agreement was signed at FAO headquarters by the FAO Assistant Director-General of the Forestry Department, Hiroto Mitsugi and the Head of Global Policy at IFOAM – Organics International, Gábor Figeczky.
“We’ve been working with FAO for over the past twenty years on various issues related to organic agriculture and all aspects of sustainability that this holistic vision entails. We are ready to step up to the next level. Mountains have become more of a focus for us recently, thus we believe they have a great potential for collaboration, particularly combined with Participatory Guarantee Systems” said Gábor Figeczky.
Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) are locally focused quality assurance systems that certify producers based on the active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange. They provide smallholder producers with an alternative organic certification that is adapted to local markets and short supply chains and which enable the producers to access local and national markets.
The Mountain Partnership Products Initiative, which provides a voluntary labelling scheme for mountain products to support mountain producers from developing countries, will adopt PGS certified products in order to simplify the assessment and monitoring phases of its labelling scheme. This will strengthen the sustainability of the label-granting system while increasing the autonomy of the mountain communities.
According to Hiroto Mitsugi, “Participatory Guarantee Systems are a perfect fit with the Mountain Partnership. We hope that the MoU with IFOAM – Organics International will create new capacities and technical knowledge among mountain communities.”
IFOAM – Organics International will also contribute its expertise on organic development to the newly designed masterclass at the Sapienza University of Rome on “Agro-Biodiversity and Climate Change” from 24 September to 5 October 2018. The masterclass will cover conservation of crop genetic diversity in mountains and its use for sustainable production and supporting rural livelihoods, with particular focus on reducing pesticide use.