PGSOC was formed out of the need for a common guarantee system for grassroots organisations or farmer groups working on organic crop production, distribution systems and consumer markets. Best practices and indigenous knowledge systems of the member farmer collectives were distilled as common standards and processes to ensure safe and healthy food for all.
PGSOC harmonised the standards and processes into a common guarantee system for local sales of organic products in India. PGSOC permits the use of its PGS Organic label on the product which has become a mark of quality among consumers. The PGSOC Organic Guarantee programme continues the legacy of maintaining the quality and organic authenticity of the products with PGS Organic label.
The “Local Group” of five or more organic farmers from the same locality is the fulcrum of the self-regulatory support system of PGS. Each farmer pledges that his/her production process is free from manufactured chemicals. The Local group provides assurance for the organic practices followed by each farming family based on their peer review system. The activities of the Local groups are facilitated by a voluntary organization called “Facilitation Council”. PGSOC works with around 15 such grassroot organisations spread across the country who facilitate the PGSOC Organic Guarantee programme.
The main objectives of the programme are:
PGSOC’s Consumer Outreach Programme strives to deliver an effective public discourse on food and farming systems among consumers which will increase awareness, knowledge and conscious consumption of food and agriculture based produce.
The farming community in India is an eclectic mix ranging from small to very large landholders, woman only farms to enterprise farms, dry land to heavy rainfall located farmers etc. In these wide spectrum the voices of the small, marginal, women and poor farmers working with constrained resources and struggling in the whole process of farming and reaching the market are unheard of in the public discourses of food. These vulnerable communities generally add higher marginal value in resource conservation such as soil, biodiversity, water etc. and are an integral part of food sovereignty as their practices and operating size are low on input cost but high on family labour. However, these stories of resilience, conservation and endurance is lost in the process of aggregation of produce by agencies and the commodity specific communications in the market.
The vision of this programme is that:
“A large population of food consumers in urban and semi urban spaces as institutions, communities or individuals will understand Organic and safe food systems better and use their knowledge effectively to buy and consume organic and safe food in the most environmentally and ecologically sustainable way possible”
This programme engages communities in the diverse set of values inherent in the agro-ecological practices of small and marginal farmers. These values enhance the quality, safety, security, accessibility and nutrition of food and environment that are normally invisible as product characteristics. Certification and labeling systems which allows for trusted indicators of the intrinsic values of such products combined with awareness-raising, behavior change communications and social marketing campaigns are the proposed strategies to facilitate
PGSOC in collaboration with Sustainable Livelihood Institute is involved in a government sponsored project to design and develop a “National pilot on Panchayat based peer level certification of the organic farmers through PGS” with Panchayat raj institutions at the fulcrum and thereby ensure organic certification is accessible and affordable. The project will be implemented in 3 diverse conditions (Sirgazhi Organic Farmer’s Association (SOFA), Sittlingi Organic Farmer’s Association (SOFA) and Veppur Organic Farmer’s Association (VOFA)) with diverse farmer bases and to co-evolve a process of organic certification with multiple farmer perspectives. The project also involves collaboration with CIKS, Nagapattinam (Agro-ecological practices) and Barefoot Academy of Governance (Governance processes).