Improving mountain farmers livelihoods through Participatory Guarantee Systems


Online trainings on implementing Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) initiatives were held between July 2020 and January 2021 for Mountain Partnership Product producers in Latin America.

In collaboration with IFOAM Organics International, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) supported three Mountain Partnership (MP) members - Fundación CoMunidad from Panama, Fundación Pasos from Bolivia and REDAR from Peru - to develop a context-specific PGS initiative. They were trained on situational analysis; legal frameworks and enabling policies for organic farming and PGS; implementing organic standards adapted to their initiatives; and defining roles and acquiring skills to formalize the PGS structure.

Participatory Guarantee Systems are a quality assurance scheme for agricultural products, internationally recognized as a low-cost certification option that is suitable for smallholder farmers as well as local and national markets. They are based on the active participation of farmers, consumers and other relevant stakeholders coming together to ensure that production chains are carried out according to organic standards.

Patricia Flores, Senior Project Coordinator of IFOAM Organics International, coordinated the PGS trainings and tailored assistance to the three organizations. During the final meeting, she underlined, “If efficiently managed, PGS can create social and territorial dynamics that improve products; commercialization and farmers’ livelihoods.”

The collaboration between IFOAM Organics International and the MPS via the Mountain Partnership Products initiative aims to strengthen the value chains of mountain products and develop a long-term strategy for a network of PGS initiatives working in mountainous ecosystems to implement the Ranikhet Declaration. The declaration – signed by 12 MP member organizations from India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Peru, Panama and Viet Nam in April 2019 – aims to increase smallholder farmers’ chances to market their organic products at a premium price and, at the same, improve the sustainability of mountain farming systems.

Gabriel Chaman, MP focal point of REDAR Peru, noted, “The PGS implementation process has been fundamental to maintaining close contacts among farming communities, especially during the hard times of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Alberto Pascual, Director of Fundación CoMunidad, stated, “We are the first organization to support a PGS in our country. So far, no other PGS initiative exists in Panama, and this represents a great responsibility.”

The experience of Fundación Pasos in Bolivia has seen a high level of innovation. Their work on creating PGS regulations for organic Meliponicultura (stingless bee honey production) is a valuable technical contribution as well as an example that can be used globally. Armando Delgado Fernández, Project Manager at Fundación Pasos, said, “Stingless bees are very sensitive to agrochemicals and require careful management of their ecological systems."

"A PGS certification will add value to the high-quality melipona honey that is harvested by a group of women beekeepers,” added Edith Martínez Guerra, Technical Expert at Fundación Pasos.

Laércio Meirelles, coordinator of the PGS Forum Latinoamericano, said, “Participatory systems of certifications have a very long history that is still evolving. Contributions from different realities and different countries are crucial to building recognition and legitimation of PGS at government and community level.”

Fundación CoMunidad, Fundacion Pasos and REDAR Peru have developed plans for fieldwork and farm validation visits, to be carried out as soon as COVID-19 movement restrictions will allow.

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