Ronald Guendel

Certification – Let’s Go Skiing

Achieving certification is not so different from learning how to ski. You don’t start with the black trails but instead with an easy run. The Bayer certification tool BayG.A.P. helps small and medium-sized farmers hit the slopes the right way – because without certification they only have limited market access.

Around three-quarters of fresh produce is sold in supermarkets. Growers who want to sell their fruits and vegetables via this channel have to fulfill various quality criteria and strict legal standards – especially in Europe and North America. For example, if a producer wants to sell table grapes, then these need to have a predefined size, color, and sugar content. In addition, many retailers go further than that and demand even stricter certification schemes because they have to answer directly to consumers who want to know where their fruits and vegetables come from. And how did they get to the supermarket? Have they been treated correctly? Were the fruits grown under good social conditions? Retailers need to have answers to all these questions. Having recognized certification builds the trust in their relationship with consumers.

Gradually increase the level

With more than 228 certified products and over 140,000 producers in 118 countries, GLOBALG.A.P. is one of the most accepted certification schemes among retailers. But how do famers get certified? Well, it’s somewhat like learning how to ski. Fulfilling all 200 GLOBALG.A.P. proof points at once is like dashing down the most difficult black trail on the very first day. For small and medium-sized farms in developing countries with limited access to technology, meeting all requirements for international certification right away might be too much to ask. Farmers have to be patient and need to start – metaphorically speaking – with an easy beginner hill and then gradually increase their level of difficulty.

The perfect tool for this learning process is our local certification scheme BayG.A.P., which is set up under our Food Chain Partnership umbrella. It consists of intensive group training, comparable to a skiing course where the basics are taught. For example, farmers learn how to use crop protection products properly and how work safety rules can protect them. BayG.A.P. helps to develop easy but effective solutions. Let me give you an example. In India we introduced the traceability passport so that it is immediately clear where and how the fruits and vegetables were produced. Our goal is for growers to be able to farm more sustainably, have market access, and increase their standard of living. As soon as they have learned all the basics, they can move on and work toward international GLOBALG.A.P. certification.

In fact, all partners along the value chain benefit from this certification process. Processors have access to new markets and know they are getting safe, high-quality food that is traceable. And the most important thing is that consumers can rest assured that the food they buy is safe and healthy. So far, BayG.A.P. has been a true success story. The tool is used in 20 countries in South and Central America, Africa, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region.

50,000 farmers certified by 2020

We want to increase the number of certified farmers in the years ahead. Our goal is ambitious. We want to train 50,000 farmers under BayG.A.P. by 2020. To reach this target we need to increase the number of Bayer facilitators and the network of NGOs we are connected to.

I think all the effort we have put into this tool, and will continue to put into it, is really worth it. When I travelled to different parts of the world, what I kept hearing from farmers everywhere, whether in Guatemala, India, or Spain, was: “BayG.A.P. is making a difference for us.” So I’m really happy that we’re in a position to help smallholder farmers – if not to become professional skiers, then at least to get certified and connected to the food value chain.

Watch this video for more information about the BayG.A.P. service program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jCMAnycV4M

Click here if you want to learn more about Food Chain Partnership: http://www.foodchainpartnership.cropscience.bayer.com/

Ronald Guendel
Ronald Guendel
Ronald Guendel,
Global Head of Food Chain Relations at Bayer Division Crop Science
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