Much Ado About Organic/ Organic Certification at a SnapShot
The Organic Agriculture industry is full of Opportunities, but information about how to access these opportunities has not always been straightforward, particularly in Kenya. Organic Certification seems to be a grey area in terms of available information. This article is for
A person looking for ways to certify their farms as organic
A person looking for ways to get their produce to market and need certification.
A person looking for general information on organic certification.
If you fall in one or more of the above categories then you’re in luck. The information has been packaged with you in mind.
Third Party Certification:
In this case, the certifier who is a certification company checks the system of production, handling and processing against the organic standards and once he confirms that the system conforms with the organic standards, he issues a certificate and allows the farmer to use an organic mark. The farmer in this case can therefore sell his or her products with an organic mark in the market. Where a farmer or a group of farmers are selling their products in the international market, it is mandatory to go through this type of certification due to the statutory requirements in destination countries such as European Union, United States and Japan.
Third party certification is normally expensive since it is conducted by companies which have profit motives. In some case, where a farmer wants to sell their products in overseas markets, the companies accredited to undertake certification for such markets are from those countries. This means certification by these international companies where they sometimes bring in inspectors from those countries is expensive. In Kenya, there are several international certification companies that do operate. They include ECOCERT, IMO, Soil Association, Control Union, Ceres, Ugocert and Africert.
Where third party certification is being done for domestic or regional markets, local certification companies undertake certification using the East African Organic products standard(EAOPS). These companies are much cheaper than the international companies since they work with local staff. Once they complete the certification process, the farmer is allowed to use the organic mark (Kilimohai mark). The local companies that undertake certification include Organic consumers alliance, Acert, Encert and Nesvax Control.
Participatory Guarantee Approach (PGS):
Where farmers are selling their products in the domestic market, and within a short supply chain, this approach can be used. PGS is a transparent and well elaborate system that integrates participation of all actors in the chain to guarantee integrity of organic products and compliance with organic standards. PGS systems includes a functioning internal control system integrated with the principles of shared vision, transparency, trust, horizontality, participatory and learning among participants. PGS is cheaper compared to third party certification and well is suited for smallholder groups who sell their products locally or in farmers markets. To develop a PGS, farmers need to develop internal rules and clear management systems and procedures which comply with East Africa Organic Product Standards. They also need develop a mechanism of verifying compliance of every member with the internal rules and defined consequences for non compliance with internal rules which are implemented. Every member of the group should take a pledge to follow the rules and participate in the activities of the group including trainings.
Groups willing to develop a PGS system can contact Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) for training. KOAN is also in charge of assessing and approving PGSses which have been developed. Currently there are 3 groups which have approved PGSses and are participating in the market.
For a farmer to be certified or to be in an approved guarantee system, it is required that the farmer:
- Has adequate physical separation of his or her organic operation from non-organic operation;
- Has adequate records to demonstrate compliance with the standards;
- His/her farm is inspected/peer reviewed at least once per year;
- Undergoes a conversion period before full organic status
Certification system also requires that:
- The farmer knows and understands the organic standards;
- Signs a contract or takes a pledge;
- Needs to be committed to, and capable of, implementing an organic agriculture system;
- Establish records of his operation;
- Accepts inspection/peer review and certification procedures.
Contacts for local certification bodies:
Name of Organisation: Organic Consumers Alliance
Contact Person: Dr. Peter Mokaya
Address:14360-00100 GPO Nairobi
Name of Organisation: Encert Limited
Contact Person: Musa Njoka
Address: P.O. BOX 74510-00200, NAIROBI
Telephone: 254 724 910 240
Name of Organisation: Acert services Limited
Contact Person: Susan Njoroge
Address: P.O. BOX 1175 Thika