Increasing incomes of farmers

Organic and fair-trade exports from Africa


Glossary of basic concepts related to the project


a. Certification is the procedure by which official certification bodies, or officially recognized certification bodies, provide written or equivalent assurance that foods or food control systems conform to requirements. Certification of food may be, as appropriate, based on a range of inspection activities which may include continuous on-line inspection, auditing of quality assurance systems and examination of finished products. (FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius, 2007)

b. Third-party attestation related to products, processes, systems or persons. An attestation is the issue of a statement based on a decision following review that fulfilment of specified requirements has been demonstrated. (ISO/IEC 17011/2004)

Certification body or certifier

An organization performing certification. The certification body may use an existing standard or may set its own standard, perhaps based on an international and/or normative standard. (FAO, 2003)

Conventional agriculture

As opposed to organic agriculture, non-organic agriculture. This is often industrialized agriculture, characterized by mechanization, monocultures, and the use of synthetic inputs such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides, with an emphasis on maximizing productivity and profitability.
(FAO, 2007)

Conversion period

The conversion period is the time between the start of organic management and the certification of crops or animal husbandry as organic. It is the time taken to neutralise chemical residues, if any, left behind in the soil by formerly practised agricultural techniques. The start of the conversion period is normally  calculated from the date of application to the certification body or, alternatively, from the date of the last application of unapproved inputs providing the operator can demonstrate that the full standards requirements have been met since. (adapted from: IFOAM, 2005)


International trading relationships that offer more favourable terms of trade to producers than conventional trade, which permits them to develop a socially and environmentally sustainable production system. (FAO 2008)

Fairtrade and Fair Trade

Terms used by organizations that are member of FINE (including FLO): Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, which seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. (FINE, 2001)

Fair-trade minimum price

The fair-trade minimum price is the minimum price that a buyer of fair-trade products has to pay. In the FLO Fairtrade system, the Fairtrade minimum price is a floor price; when the market price is higher the buyer has to pay the higher market price.

Fair-trade premium

The fair-trade premium is paid in addition to the fair-trade minimum price. In the FLO Fairtrade system, the use of the premium is decided democratically by the producer organization following certain criteria. It is normally used to invest in developmental, social or environmental projects.


a. On-site visit to verify that the performance of an operation is in accordance with specific standards of a certification programme. (FAO, 2003)

b. Conformity evaluation by observation and judgement accompanied as appropriate by measurements, testing or gauging. (ISO/IEC Guide 2, ISO 9000:2000)

Internal control system

An Internal Control System (ICS) is the part of a documented quality assurance system that allows an external certification body to delegate the periodical inspection of individual group members to an identified body or unit within the certified operator (group). (IFOAM, 2007)

Organic agriculture

Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agroecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It emphasizes the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using, where possible, cultural, biological and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfil any specific function within the system. (FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius, 1999)


Document approved by a recognized body that provides for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for products or related processes and production methods, with which compliance body conformity assessment is not mandatory. It may also include or deal exclusively with terminology, symbols, packaging, marking or labelling requirements as they apply to a product, process or production method. (WTO/TBT) Note: the recognized body can be any relevant constituency.

Traditional agriculture

Traditional agriculture is an indigenous form of farming, result of coevolution of local social and environmental systems using local knowledge and natural resources. If such traditional systems are sustainable they can be considered (non-certified) organic agriculture.