Establishing an organic certification system in the Caribbean, an exchange between Barbados, Jamaica, and Grenada

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The objective of the exchange between Jamaica and Barbados was to implement a national organic inspection and certification system in Barbados, based on the Jamaica Organic Association Movement (JOAM) experience. JOAM reached out to connect the Barbadian NGO with the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA), which provides training to organic inspectors, and promotes consistency and integrity in the organic certification process. JOAM also put Organic Growers and Consumers Association (OGCA) in touch with the Grenada Organic Agriculture Movement (GOAM) which extended the South-South cooperation to Grenada, and members from GOAM were able to participate in the training of future inspectors in Barbados, with support from UNDP's GEF Small Grants Program (SGP).

Good Health and Well-Being , Decent Work and Economic Growth , Responsible Consumption and Production , Life on Land , Partnerships for the Goals

There is a growing organic movement to reduce the use of agrochemicals in Barbados. The movement is bringing increasing public awareness of how industrial agriculture is contributing to pollution in the groundwater supply and in the marine environment. Market surveys have demonstrated that there is a high demand for organic products among tourists, which the local market is not able to meet. Organic food production makes up less than 10% of the national food production. In 2004, the Barbados National Standards Institute (BNSI) adopted organic standards based on the Food and Agriculture Organization’s CODEX Alimentarius guidelines for organic farming. However, no system for the delivery of this standard had been developed, and there was no established methodology for inspecting or certifying these products as organic. The major organic agricultural association in Barbados, the OGCA, had no tangible means to verify that the practices of their growers met the standard and merited recognition. The situation was compounded by the lack of a credible, sufficiently independent entity responsible for conducting inspections and awarding organic certification to existing organic growers and farmers wishing to convert to organic agriculture.

With support from JOAM and the IOIA, OGCA facilitated the training of prospective organic inspectors, educated farmers on organic farming, and developed monitoring and reporting systems for the certification process.  

Organic farmers were trained in data collection and farm recordkeeping using available information technology, and project management tools. As a part of the project activity, the farmers were introduced to and taught how to use an app called Farmlogs to facilitate electronic record-keeping. A training video was developed, including modules on the Principles of organic farming, organic seedling production, the nature and properties of soil, soil fertility management, organic pest and disease management, water management, and organic farm certification.  

To create legitimacy and commercialize the certified organic brand, as well as to encourage more growers to participate in organic farming, organic farm inspection reports were completed and submitted to BNSI.

The involved farmers reported on improved farm management and record keeping and the project now enjoys full support from the government with technical and financial means to operationalize the certification process. OGCA now has a fully operational certification process in place to ensure genuine organic food production for consumer.  

As a result of this exchange, OGCA accepts Barbadian inspectors to conduct inspections in Grenada and vice-versa. Having certified organic inspectors available in the Eastern Caribbean will significantly reduce the cost of certification to the farmers and generate income opportunities to the inspectors. Three Grenadians have been certified as organic inspectors under this project, and it is expected to be replicated in Grenada in the coming years.  

Due to their role in establishing this certification process, OGCA was identified as a key stakeholder to contribute to the revision of the National Physical Development Plan, Barbados’ national sustainable development and growth framework. It is anticipated that in the coming 1st inspection cycle, OGCA will see as many as 5 farms inspected and receive provisional certification in 2017.  

Barbados , Jamaica , Grenada

Jamaica Organic Association Movement , Grenada Organic Agriculture Movement , International Organic Inspectors Association , Barbados Ministry of Agriculture , The Inter American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture , UNDP GEF-Small Grants Programmee

Organic Growers & Consumer Association

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