For a farmer to be organically certified, they need to become a member of the PGS group, sign a pledge and then receive a PGS farm visit. Farm visit committees are composed of farmers and any number of consumers wishing to take part in the farm visit. On the occasion of the farm visit, knowledge exchanges take place and the PGS visiting committee determines whether the production is organic, organic in conversion or not certified (in which case the farm visit is rescheduled). Certified farmers will be provided with a certificate endorsing their organic or in conversion status for explicitly identified crops or animal produce. The PGS committee can also assess a farm for organic seed production, input making and (soon) agro-processing.
Annual Farmer & consumer Membership fee: R 200, payable in the new year.
Membership benefits for farmers: Direct marketing as a result of belonging to the PGS, access to a network of organic growers, participation in at least 2 farm visits, participation in quarterly PGS talks at a discounted rate.
Membership benefits for consumers: knowing and supporting your community of growers, supporting the guarantee system (funds will go towards supporting the marketing and knowledge platform), access to PGS farm visits and PGS talks at a discounted rate.
How farm visits work
All members (consumers and farmers) can take part in a farm visit. Visits are organised at the request of the farmer member, when he/she is ready for the farm visit. The farmer completes a production sheet (accessible in the ‘forms’ tab) which is checked by the permanent Outeniqua PGS committee before confirming the visit and then the farmers settles a farm visit fee.
On the day of the visit, a farm visit committee “drives” the farm visit (the composition of the farm visit committee can vary for each visit and must always include at least two farmers, one technical adviser and one consumer) whilst additional farmers and consumers can join the visit as observers (the visited farmer decide on the “maximum” number of observers he/she wishes to have on the farm).
The farm visit committee will be responsible for completing the assessment report. All participants on the farm visit complete a “Farm visit checklist”. All members have the right to ask questions, and can explore any query that might have arisen out of the supplied documentation prior to the assessment.
The farm visit is an interactive process, whereby the farmer walks the visitors on the farm and explains the production cycle. Many questions are asked and a lot of agricultural knowledge is shared during the visit. Farm visits last 3 hours on average.
After the walk through, all comments, suggestions or further queries will be handled in a short meeting before concluding the assessment. The committee is then left to debate the outcome of the visit. All participants will be expected to give their comments openly at this meeting.
Ideally, the assessment process can be finalised up to provisional acceptance stage at that meeting. If any further research or verification is required, the farm committee postpones the ruling and has 2 working days to come to a final conclusion.
Types of certificates
PGS Organic : Farmers who are fully compliant with their group’s organic standard may be issued this seal.
Details: Labelling regulations state that use of the word “organic” for animal products must be linked to specific protocols registered with The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). The IFOAM recognizes SAOSO standard covers these protocols. In the absence of SA legislation governing the use of the word “organic” for crops, groups are guided by the intended purpose of the Consumer Protection Act 2008, and must be able to substantiate this claim with documented record keeping of farm visits and compliance with the group’s chosen organic standard.
Any notifiable exceptions are permitted for a duration of 12 months, provided that the producer provides a remedial plan on how s/he will make improvements towards reaching the standards.
The next visit assesses whether the indicated improvements have been reached and whether any other additional extension is to be granted. PGS groups granting exceptions to the organic standards need to notify PGS SA of these.
PGS organic In-Conversion: Farmers who cannot support/attest to the organic history of the land or who are converting from chemical to organic agriculture may be issued with this seal by their group. This seal can also be used in instances when corrective action is required following a deviation.
Details: If the production is in accordance with organic principles, but the land has been under organic management for less than:
- 18 months before sowing or planting in the case of annual production;
- 12 months before grazing or harvest for pastures and meadows;
- 12 months before harvest for other perennials.
Any notifiable exceptions are permitted for a duration of 12 months, provided that the producer provides a remedial plan on how s/he will make improvements towards reaching the standards ((refer to PGS SA’s guidelines for exceptions granted for “in conversion”).
Not endorsed: Any farmer/producer not complying with the Basic Production Principles will not be approved. If there is a possibility that resolving non-compliance could change the status of the product, such information will be given to the applicant, and a re-submission may be made.
FARM VISIT FEES
- The farm assessment fee is R 700 to be paid to the coordinator (excluding transport allowance) provided that the farmer receiving the visit commits to managing a farm visit in the same year. An additional R500 fee should be allocated to the coordinator should a post visit investigation be required to complete the assessment. The assessed farmer can also opt to request the administrator to manage the farm visit each year.
- In the event that the farmer does not wish to manage a peer farm visit, the farm assessment visit fee is R 2,500 (excluding transport allowance for the administrator)
Summary of farm visit fee structure
|Stakeholders||Option 1) If peer farmer leads the assessment||Option 2) Coordinator leads the assessment|
|Farmer being assessed||Pays the coordinator R700 – and an extra R500 if a post visit investigation is required Commits to lead a farm assessment in the same year||Pays the coordinator R2,500|
|Farmer leading the assessment||Is responsible for leading the farm assessment, keeping a written record of the assessment. He/she will write a short summary of the farm visit outcome and compile the list of any corrective actions needed.||NA|
|Coordinator||Liaises with the farmer for assessment and set up the farm visit + source all the production files + advertise the visit. And manage the roster of farmers in charge of the visit. Is responsible for any additional investigation and shares the research findings with the farmer leading the assessment for a final conclusion of the assessment.||Is responsible for leading the farm assessment, keeping a written record of the assessment. He/she will write a short summary of the farm visit outcome and compile the list of any corrective actions needed. Responsible for any additional investigation.|