PGS India Organic – Participatory Guarantee System for India
PGS-India programme for local and domestic market, a farmer group centric certification system, was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare with an aim to make the certification system affordable and accessible without the need for third party certification agencies.
PGS-India is a quality assurance initiative that is locally relevant, emphasize the participation of stakeholders, including producers and consumers and operates outside the frame of third party certification.
PGS, according to this definition, is “a process in which people in similar situations (in this case small holder producers) assess, inspect and verify the production practices of each other and take decisions on organic certification”.
PGS-India is facilitated by Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Govt. of India through National Centre of Organic Farming (NCOF) as its Secretariat.
Four pillars of PGS
The government’s 2015 PGS manual underlines that the system in India is based on “participatory approach, a shared vision, transparency and trust”.
PARTICIPATION: Stakeholders such as producers, consumers, retailers, traders, NGOs, Gram Panchayats, and government organisations and agencies are collectively responsible for designing, operating, and decision-making. Direct communication among the stakeholders helps create an integrity- and trust-based approach with transparency in decision-making, easy access to databases and, where possible, visits to farms by consumers.
SHARED VISION: Collective responsibility for implementation and decisionmaking is driven by a common shared vision. Each stakeholder organisation or PGS group can adopt its own vision conforming to the overall vision and standards of the PGS-India programme.
TRANSPARENCY: At the grassroots level, transparency is maintained through the active participation of producers in the organic guarantee process, which can include information-sharing at meetings and workshops, peer reviews, and involvement in decisionmaking.
TRUST: A fundamental premise of PGS is the idea that producers can be trusted, and that the organic guarantee system can be an expression and verification of this trust. The mechanisms for trustworthiness include a producer pledge made through a witnessed signing of a declaration, and written collective undertakings by the group to abide by the norms, principles and standards of PGS.
Difference between PGS India Green & PGS India Organic Logo
The PGS-INDIA GREEN logo refers to products obtained from the agriculture fields under process of conversion. The certification mark certifies that the food product conforms to the NSOP
The PGS-INDIA ORGANIC logo refers to products obtained from the agriculture fields which are completely converted into organic. The certification mark certifies that the organic food product conforms to the NSOP
Difference between NPOP and PGS India Certifications
Both the programmes (NPOP and PGS-India) are independent of each other and products certified under one system cannot be processed or labeled under another system. While NPOP certified products can be traded in export and in domestic market including imports, PGS-India certified products can be traded only in domestic market.
A total of 6.12 lakh hectares land and 9.32 lakh farmers covered under PGS-India certification and 9.12 lakh hectares land and around 15 lakh farmers covered under NPOP certification.
Advantages and limitations of PGS India Organic
Among the advantages of PGS over third-party certification, identified by the government document, are:
- Procedures are simple, documents are basic, and farmers understand the local language used.
- All members live close to each other and are known to each other. As practising organic farmers themselves, they understand the processes well.
- Because peer appraisers live in the same village, they have better access to surveillance; peer appraisal instead of third-party inspections also reduces costs
- Mutual recognition and support between regional PGS groups ensures better networking for processing and marketing.
- Unlike the grower group certification system, PGS offers every farmer individual certificates, and the farmer is free to market his own produce independent of the group.
However, the operational manual also identifies some limitations of PGS.
- PGS certification is only for farmers or communities that can organise and perform as a group within a village or a cluster of continguous villages, and is applicable only to farm activities such as crop production, processing, and livestock rearing, and off-farm processing “by PGS farmers of their direct products”.
- Individual farmers or group of farmers smaller than five members are not covered under PGS. They either have to opt for third party certification or join the existing PGS local group.
- PGS ensures traceability until the product is in the custody of the PGS group, which makes PGS ideal for local direct sales and direct trade between producers and consumers.