|PGS FAQs - PGS and Quality Assurance|
How do PGS programs assist untrained farmers in carrying out credible on-site inspections?
Itís not unreasonable to expect that a local farmer growing the same crops in the same region will be amongst the most knowledgeable people to handle an on-site assessment of a neighboring farm. In fact, one would expect them to know more about whatís going on at a neighborís farm than someone coming from thousands of miles away who has only read a briefing on the crops and region being visited.
That being said, all PGS programs have specific inspection documents to lead people untrained in conducting inspections through the necessary steps of a complete farm visit. These appraisals are also a way to verbally re-check that the farmer being visited actually understands the Principles of Organic Agriculture they are committing to, so peer inspectors are led to do more than just a check on the physical farm as they are also directed by the document to ask leading questions to ascertain the farmerís understanding. This leads to sharing of ideas and organic practices and solutions that are specific to that area, so the result is of benefit to both the farmer and the inspector.
How can you expect village farmers to exclude each other from a local group? Why will they be honest?
Social Control only works when (a) the local group feels ownership and responsibility of the program, (b) there are pre-agreed upon consequences for non-compliant actions, (c) the pre-agreed upon consequences are perceived as appropriate (not too harsh) and (d) there are consequences to the Local Group for not taking action when they see the non-compliance of an individual farmer. Including local farmers and stakeholders from the beginning in deciding consequences for non-compliances satisfies these factors.
PGS philosophy is that a non-compliance means that the farmer needs more knowledge of Organic Principles and Organic Techniques (to solve the challenge organically). So often, consequences for less serious and especially inadvertent first-time mistakes are purposefully less harsh and actually a trigger for more support of that farmer. The resulting social attention (in addition to the education) also acts to minimize the chance that the farmer will cheat again.
In many PGS programs, unreported non-compliances discovered on one farm in a local group also have consequences to the entire local group of farmers.
Some PGS programs have included random product testing/pesticide residue testing. Is this integral to the operation of a PGS?
Only a few PGS programs have integrated product testing into their programs. The decision to do so was important to the stakeholders of those programs.
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