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Practical support to smallholder organisations

ICS Handbook 350

Naturland has completely revised the Manual for Quality Assurance, taking into account new government regulations and international standards. The Manual now includes all provisions of the current EU Eco Regulation EC No 834/2007 and was re-structured, simplified and newly illustrated. Moreover, the Naturland Social Standards (not mentioned in the manual before) were included. Further revisions regarding new provisions of the forthcoming EU Eco Regulation 2018/848 will be published as soon as they are finalized by the EU.

This Manual offers practical support to smallholder organisations in order to successfully set up an Internal Control System and obtain organic certification according to EU and Naturland Standards. About 80% of the organic producers worldwide are smallholders. However, smallholder farmers, often living in remote areas, cannot afford certification costs and manage administrative requirements individually. Implementation of a group certification scheme thus offers a practical and cost-effective means to ensure compliance with organic standards.

Such a group certification scheme is based on an Internal Control System (ICS). The ICS ensures quality assurance within the group while the external certification body checks the overall implementation and functioning of the ICS. This inspection scheme significantly reduces certification costs and complexity and enables market access for smallholder farmers. Above that, it also effectively supports quality assurance due to the provision of extension services, exchange between group members, increased product traceability and empowerment of the producer group.

In order to enable even smallholders to acquire organic certification, Naturland developed an internal control system for growers’ co-operatives already back in the mid-1990s. The first edition of the Manual for Quality Assurance in Smallholder Organisations was published in the year 2000 and a revised 2nd edition in 2002. The Manual was developed in cooperation with the IMO Institute for Market Ecology, authored by Mr Franz Augstburger, Ms Ute Eisenloher, Ms Elisabeth Rüegg and Ms Birgit Wilhelm. Similarly, IFOAM published its “Smallholder Group Certification Guidance Manual” in 2004.

file ico Handbook on Internal Control Systems