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Policy Briefing: Alternative organic certification

This briefing paper proposes a stronger promotion of small scale organic agriculture in China, and the introduction of the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) as a promising tool to mainstream organic agriculture amongst the small and marginal farmers, and to develop emerging organic markets in China. The majority of the emerging local organic and natural food initiatives in China are mainly working together with farmers that have too small of a production to afford certification. These initiatives therefore have to develop their own set of criteria in order to provide consumers with the necessary assurance. In order to establish a more formalized procedure and consistent criteria, the PGS has proven as an effective tool.

Within the PGS certification process, farmers, consumers, NGOs, scientists and other key actors in the organic sector jointly inspect food production sites and adapt certification procedures to local settings. PGS in China may function as an effective in supporting farmers to improve their systems, and at the same time provide important extension services for organic agriculture, organic research and organic seeds.

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