Participatory Guarantee System (PGS)

DSC02897 resizedFor many small scale and marginal farmers in India who choose to pursue organic farming, marketing and selling their produce as organic proves a challenge. Unable to afford the high costs that come with using an external certification agency, they are often left without a means to provide consumers and buyers with the quality assurance they seek. The Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) is an economically viable alternative that enables this. Farmers who enroll for PGS take a pledge to pursue and uphold organic principles before undergoing a 3 year conversion period. At the end of this time, they receive certification, provided they have followed all the guidelines and met the standards outlined by the PGS Organic India Council. This certificate, which must be renewed each year, allows farmers to label and sell their produce as organic, enabling them to fetch higher prices in the market and increasing the economic returns of organic farming.
GREEN Foundation acts as Regional Council for PGS, initiating it in communities, guiding farmers through the conversion period and documenting the process to issue out certificates.
As early as April of 2012, GREEN helped to mobilize PGS initiatives within many areas of the MKSP project locations. Major steps taken include: group formation, field appraisals and conveners’ meeting.

Group formation

PGS crop monitor (4) - resizedThe inherent advantage of PGS as an economically viable option stems in a large part through its peer appraisal process of farm evaluations. In Chitradurga and Ramanagara, farmers join together in groups of at least 5 members to periodically inspect and document each other’s farms, thereby ensuring that their fellow group members are meeting organic farming standards.

These local groups are at the heart of the PGS process we initiate in communities. Their formation is one of the first steps that is taken by farmers who enroll for the process. To this effect, a total of 18 groups comprising of 103 members have been formed in Ramanagara District. In Chitradurga a total of 250 members, comprising 50 groups have joined together.

Convener’s meetings

DSC00413 resizedPoor education levels of a majority of farmers in both Chitradurga and Ramanagara means that documentation of inspections and farm visits becomes a challenge in the PGS process. To address this concern, conveners are appointed in each group for the purpose of accurate documentation. As a member of the community with a comparatively higher education level and well versed in PGS guidelines, conveners are also responsible for coordinating field appraisals and group meetings. They are, in essence, PGS leaders in a community, forming a link between GREEN and the community, disseminating knowledge of the process and enabling easy mobilization of PGS initiatives.

GREEN initiates the selection and training of conveners in documentation procedures and PGS guidelines. For this purpose, conveners training sessions took place in Ramanagara, attended by 93 participants from the area. They were oriented on PGS procedures and taught to fill in documents accurately.