Creating a global Mountain Participatory Guarantee System (PGS)


The representatives of twelve Mountain Partnership (MP) member organizations from Nepal, India, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Panama and Vietnam met in Ranikhet, at the foothills of the Indian Himalaya, for the workshop “creating a global Mountain Participatory Guarantee System”. The workshop was organized in collaboration with the Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development Foundation and IFOAM-Organics International.

A Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) is a quality assurance scheme for agricultural products, internationally recognized as a low-cost certification suitable for smallholder farmers and local/national markets. It is based on the active participation of farmers, consumers, and other relevant stakeholders, who come together to make decisions, visit farms, support one another and make sure that the production chain is carried out according to organic standards.

The MP workshop brought together a group of farmer groups and producers’ organizations willing to establish a set of guidelines and standards for mountain organic farming systems, as well as the first ever international PGS Network.

Giorgio Grussu, Project Coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Products (MPP) initiative stated that “a mountain-specific PGS can give small-holder farmers better chances to market their organic products at a premium price, and support them in improving the sustainability of mountain farming systems“.

During the workshop existing PGS experiences from Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and India were presented and discussed among the participants to identify common features and similar challenges, aiming at understanding how the PGS concept can be applied to the MPP initiative. The workshop revealed that small scale mountain farmers from all countries are facing similar obstacles as they cannot afford third party organic certification, which is required for exports, although they are practicing organic farming by default.

Federica Varini, Organic Policy and Guarantee Specialist from IFOAM-Organics International explained that “PGS aims at providing a credible organic guarantee to consumers seeking organic produce, in a way that creates meaningful relationships between all stakeholders along the value chain, based on mutual trust“.

Anita Paul, co-founder of the Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development Foundation pointed out that “PGS has the advantage of bringing farmers to work together and making them feel that they can support each other and improve the quality of their products through a peer review process”.

The workshop was concluded by a field visit to a local group of female farmers who produce organic chamomile tea, and have been successfully implementing a PGS for the last ten years. Their chamomile is one of the products that was granted the label of the Mountain Partnership.

Carlo Murer, agricultural marketing specialist and international buyer of EcorNaturaSì said that “all farmers in the world share the same problem: who can sell my products?”. He pointed out that “although producers consider export as their ideal market, it is generally much more beneficial for them to explore and consolidate domestic markets first, as only very few products meet the criteria for export, and exporting products not only creates a high dependency but often leads to a significant loss of agrobiodiversity”.

As an outcome of the workshop the Ranikhet Declaration was adopted, a formal commitment of all participants towards the implementation of a mountain-specific PGS in different countries/regions. As a next step, regional training of trainers in Central Asia and Latin America are being planned to take place in October 2019.

Read more about the MPP intiative

Photo by Michelle Geringer

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