The Outeniqua Natural and Organic Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) was launched on 21 October 2018. Farmers and consumers from the Outeniqua region participated in the inaugural session, during which the PGS’ operating procedures and production standards were agreed. PGS Outeniqua is a member of PGS South Africa.
How do I know the food I buy is organic?
There are three manners by which trust is established between producer and consumer, when it comes to ensuring that food is produced organically: face-to-face and self claim; participation guarantee systems and third party certification.
- 1st PARTY: FACE-TO-FACE and SELF-CLAIM
“Face-to-face” is where the consumer has a personal relationship with the producer, typically built through friendship, word-of-mouth and satisfying experience. The consumer is prepared to pay the asking price based on this personal trust.
“Self-claim” is where the producer makes unsubstantiated claims of the organic nature of the product, usually via the product label which uses the word “organic”. The consumer “blindly” places their uninformed trust in the product and carries the risk of buying an inferior, ethically dubious product, whereas the producer generally has very little added financial cost to including the self-claim.
- 2nd PARTY: PARTICIPATORY GUARANTEE SYSTEMS
Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) were formalized by the IFOAM Organic International as a recognized peer-review system whereby producers provide a formal guarantee to consumers that their products have been produced according to a recognized set of organic standards.
PGS’ are based on a group effort which involves a group of producers, consumers and market operators, often assisted by an Organic agriculture expert. The group develops a set of assessment and record keeping documents. Members of the group, who are in fact the peers, visit producers on a rotational basis for an annual farm assessment (see the “how it works” tab).
- Because they are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange, PGS’s are emerging world wide as a viable alternative to costly third party certification. PGS is a system that is well suited to small-scale production and short food supply chain. The PGS also makes clear and previously defined consequences for non-compliance.
- In South Africa the national body overseeing individual is “PGS South Africa” (PGS SA), which operates under the South African organic sector organisation (SAOSO) umbrella. SAOSO will licence the use of the SAOSO PGS Endorsed logo to those PGS’ which satisfy SAOSO’s criteria, found in the SAOSO standards.
- 3rd PARTY CERTIFICATION
Third party certification for producers operating in a long-value chain and especially who are wanting to export their produce. The producer applies to a certification body (CB) for certification. After the exchange of pre-determined information, the CB will send an auditor to the producer for a certification audit. The audit report is submitted to the CB which makes a certification decision and communicates this to the producer. The CB will then issue the certificate, valid for one year