By Obidinma Ebuka
Dr Olufemi AyanfeOluwa, a lecturer with the Federal College of Agriculture, Moor Plantation, Ibadan says no agriculture produce should be termed organic except it is certified by the appropriate bodies.
AyanfeOluwa who said this during his online presentation on Organic Agriculture Standard and Certification, organised by Journalists Go Organic Movement, added, `if it is not certified, it may not be organic’.
He said that it is not sufficient to personally claim that one’s production is organic, but that there should be a link to benchmark reference regarding practices of Organic Agriculture.
“Standards could also be said to be a set of rules and regulations guiding any production, while Certification means an audit process to evaluate compliance to an established standard.
“Therefore, organic agriculture business is an organised system based on integrity and quality assurance.
“Organic standards’ are sets of definitions, requirements, recommendations and restrictions regarding the practices and materials that can be used within certified organic production and processing systems.
“These documented standards define the requirements that a producer/processor must meet before the certifying organisation will certify the enterprise ‘organic’”.
AyanfeOluwa noted that Organic Agriculture Standard and Certification are important tools for Organic Agriculture business.
“We also have a standard in Nigeria “Organic Agriculture Standard in Nigeria” and anybody claiming to be practising organic agriculture without following any known standard is rather joking’’.
He enumerated the types of certification programmes available to farmers who may be interested in having their produce certified.
“We have individual or self-claimed called First Party Certification; Self claimed means that, the farm has not gone through audit process (certification) and it is only the farmer that could claim what he/she is doing is organic.
Thus, only close persons who could trust such a person would buy into his produce/products.
“Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) which is Second party: are quality assurance initiatives using their own written standards, often based on the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Basic Standards.
“PGS are specific to individual communities, geographic areas, politics and their markets and the methods of verification that are used vary.
Credibility is ensured through the participation of all stakeholders involved in production and consumption of organic products.
“The word participatory means that both the producers and consumers are involved in the certification process.
“PGS which also shares a common goal with third party certification in providing a credible guarantee for consumers seeking organic produce locally, and is much
cheaper and accessible.
“Thus, it makes it easier for organic farmers with small holdings which characterise agriculture in Africa to market their produce locally as organic, having access to certification through PGS.
“It should be noted that PGS certified products could only be sold within your country/region, but cannot be exported as organic, and this is one of the limitations of PGS’’.
He said Third Party Certification, (TPC) is in contrast to first party (self) certification and second party certification that are carried out by a body closely related to the supply chain.
“TPC is viewed as more reliable and credible than first and second-party certifications, because the credibility of the Third Party certifier itself is backed up by accreditation.
“Accreditation is either provided by private or public sector often by, or with the consent of, public authorities and requirements for accreditation are laid down in ISO 65 which is endorsed by the European Union as EN 45011.
“To export produce/products to any country, you must produce and be certified based on the standards of that country.
According to him, if you are targeting the US market, you must produce and be certified based on National Organic Programme (NOP).
“Such certification could only be handled by an independent accredited body which is a third party between the producer and the consumers in the targeted country.
“Third party certification could be very expensive and complex, and therefore makes it unaffordable for a small scale farmer.
“You require a large volume of production to be able to offset the cost of certification. Third party certification could be as costly as 5,000 pounds or more,” he said.