First regional product certification training held in Peru


The first regional training of trainers for a certification scheme for small-scale mountain producers took place from 18 to 22 November 2019 in Lima, Peru.

The Mountain Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) Training of Multipliers for Latin America was co-organized by Mountain Partnership member IFOAM-Organics International in collaboration with EcorNaturaSí. It helped to equip key members from Peru, Panama, Mexico and Bolivia to establish successful PGSs specific to mountain areas.

Participatory Guarantee Systems that are specifically designed for mountain agriculture allow small-scale mountain farmers to certify organic products through an interactive, community-based approach: rather than by paying for an expensive third-party certification.

This workshop in Peru builds upon the foundation established at the April 2019 “Creating a Global Mountain Participatory Guarantee System” workshop, held by the MP, IFOAM-Organics International and the Pan Himalayan Grassroots Foundation in Ranikhet, India. The workshop’s main outcome was the Ranikhet Declaration for a Global Mountain PGS Network, which established the first-ever international network of PGSs designed for smallholder farmers in mountain regions.

Professor Robert Ugas, a professor of agroecology at the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in Lima, Peru and an advisor to Peru's National Association of Ecological Farmers, highlighted the necessity of the Global Mountain PGS Network. “The network is a perfect example of an innovative south-south cooperation because it makes direct links between small-scale mountain farmers around the globe, promoting horizontal knowledge sharing among these partners, as was the case between Mongolia and India,” says Ugas.

IFOAM-Organics International trainer Patricia Flores instructed key focal points of cooperatives and organizations on the basics of PGS and how to effectively market mountain products. Workshop participants presented their work and exchanged knowledge and experiences. All participants mentioned that they share a common challenge: difficulty in accessing markets.

The workshop also included two excursions. One led by Carlo Murer, agricultural marketing specialist from EcorNaturaSí, the group visited local stores to better understand the labeling, positioning and marketing of organic products. This excursion was helpful for participants to understand how to make their products stand out from the rest.

Murer says, “Mountain products cannot be just commodities, they are the diamonds in a product shelf. We need to look for uniqueness and avoid comparability and differentiate them from the industrial goods.”

The group also visited an operational PGS called EcoFeria Cieneguilla. During their visit, participants engaged in a field exercise with one of the farmers, testing the peer review component of the PGS by taking note of things such as how they control for insects and disease without using pesticides.

Participants included Mountain Partnership Products (MPP) partner Red de Agroindustria Rural del Perú (REDAR Perú) and MP members Fundacion CoMunidad from Panama, Fundación Participación y Sostenibilidad (PASOS) from Bolivia, Organización de Mujeres Milenarias from Mexico and the International Potato Center (CIP).

Fundacion CoMunidad has started implementing a PGS with their coffee product. Following the MP workshop in Peru, they hope to review their database of organic coffee producers to select the best candidates for the PGS. Project Coordinator Yariela Cedeño says, “The overall experience [of the workshop] was very enriching and we hope to achieve the PGS in Panama.”

Gabriel Chaman is the Commercial and Project Manager of Ally Mishky/REDAR PERU, an MPP producer of marmalades. Chaman is ready to take home what he learned at the workshop: “… I learned how to market my products and differentiate them from the competition, in addition to defining which is my target ... It has helped me to have a clear strategy.”

 The outcomes of the workshop in Peru will be crucial in determining the next steps for the Mountain PGS Network. Based on these outcomes, regional trainings involving all MPP initiative partners committed to the Ranikhet Declaration are planned to take place next year in 2020.

Photo from Michelle Geringer

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