Frequently Asked Questions
What is Participatory Guarantee System (PGS)?
Participatory Guarantee Systems are locally focused quality assurance systems. They certify producers based on
active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge
exchange. Under PGS organic farmers regain control over the certification process and are able to produce a
credible and effective system of quality assurance. PGS is a second party organic assurance system between
farmers, local markets and consumers and does not involve third party audit mechanism.
PGS initiatives are been taken up throughout the globe by small farmers, civil society organisations
consumers. Although details of methodology and process vary, the key elements remain consistent worldwide. The
Key element of PGS are: Shared Vision, Trust, Horizontality, Transparency, Participation and Learning process.
What is organic farming?
Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies
on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of chemical
inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides etc.) with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines
tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good
quality of life for all involved.
Why do we need PGS? Aren’t third-party certification systems enough?
Third-party programs are doing a good job at what they were designed for and have vastly increased the global
market and awareness of organic products. However, PGS offer a complementary, low-cost, locally-based system
of quality assurance, with a heavy emphasis on social control and knowledge building. PGS, as a complementary
method to third-party certification, is essential to the continued growth of the organic movement, especially
if we want to include poorer small and marginal farmers who have the most to benefit from organic. Barriers to
entry for third-party certification, including direct costs and paperwork, mean that many of the smallest and
poorest farmers (those that have the most to gain by joining a system of committed organic production) cannot
participate, and this hurts the growth of the organic movement as a whole.
What is the vision of PGSOC?
We envision a future of socially, ecologically and economically just food systems guaranteed by trust and
participation, driven by traditional ecological knowledge systems and co-owned and controlled by communities
adhering to principles of co-operation.
What are the objectives of PGSOC?
- To promote Participatory Guarantee System (PGS Organic) as a means to strengthen the organic movement
- To deal with all agencies and statutory authorities both within India and abroad for the purposes of
implementing, furthering, improving and protecting the PGS Organic system of organic certification.
- To provide nutritive and guaranteed organic produce to consumers with primary focus on domestic
- To ensure food security and improved livelihoods of organic producers and collectors/harvesters through
effective and efficient implementation of PGS Organic.
- To promote agro-ecological practices, environmental conservation and fair price for producers and
- To draw up the norms and standards and the total system of Local Groups and PGS Organic Facilitating
Councils (PGSOFCs) for implementation among the producers, with special emphasis on poor, marginal
farmers, share croppers, NTFP collectors and harvesters.
- To organize or help organize all manner of workshops, seminars, conferences and related meetings and
functions in respect of promoting the PGS Organic system in India.
- To promote PGS Organic and build awareness through the use of publications, multimedia, and engagement
Why should I buy PGSOC certified produce?
- Quality organic products: PGSOC certified products are 100% organic, nutritious and tastes good. The
authenticity of organic produce has been maintained by enabling a transparent, community driven,
participative and trust based system of organic certification and marketing.
- Fair Price: PGSOC ensures a fair price is given to the primary producers i.e. farmers along with
ensuring quality organic produce are accessible and affordable for common consumers creating a win-win
situation for both producers and consumers. PGSOC has done this by reducing the cost and paper work
required for organic certification and also developing efficient and shorter supply chains and market
- Environment friendly: The PGSOC farmers work in harmony with nature by following agro-ecological
practices and promoting biodiversity and thus sustain the health of soils, ecosystems and people. PGSOC
promotes local markets and shorter supply chains which is a more eco-friendly option of consumption.
- Supports local economy and small farmers: PGSOC organic certification contemplates the diverse farming
and market conditions of country like India and have incorporated inclusiveness and fairness. PGSOC has
brought thousands of small and marginalized farmers, rain-fed farmers and tribal communities under the
umbrella of organic certification and provided them with market support.
How will I identify if a product is PGSOC certified?
The products which are certified by PGSOC will have the following PGS Organic logo in the package.
Where can I procure PGSOC products?
PGSOC products can be procured from the following sources:
- Directly from the Farmer Producer Organisations and the Community based organization of the PGSOC
certified farmers or from their retail outlets.
- PGSOC consumer cooperative outlets.
- PGSOC exclusive retail stores.
- Other retail outlets.
How can I as a consumer participate in the PGSOC process?
Consumers are integral to the operation of a successful PGS. Consumer can actively involve in the PGS
certification process by participating in the Local group meetings, peer reviews and farm visits. Consumers
can volunteer for PGSOC and participate in the functioning of PGSOC. Consumers can also collectivize among
themselves to form Consumer cooperatives or take up Consumer Supported Agriculture initiatives.
How can a farmer collective get PGSOC certificate?
PGSOC certification process is facilitated by grassroots organization working with small and marginal organic
farmers whom we call Facilitation Council. The grassroots organisations are selected by PGSOC based on a
due-diligence process. The Facilitation Council facilitates PGS among multiple Local groups of 5 or more
farmers from same locality. The farmer collectives can either apply to become a Facilitation Council or
approach existing Facilitation Councils for certification. The farmer collectives can reach out to
firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Can individual farmers obtain PGSOC certificate?
PGSOC certification process is a group certification process based on active participation and peer appraisal
among the group members. So, individual farmers cannot obtain PGSOC certificate.
What should I do if I find that PGSOC certified product is tested positive for pesticide
Any issues related to PGSOC certified products and its quality can be reported by mail to email@example.com
. PGSOC has an internal control system to address consumer complaints which are reported to them.