Session: Certification

  • John – farmer and organic certifier and our facilitator – Thanks John!!
  • Kevin – from Litefarm
  • Ned – how certification can be made more efficient to support environmental outcomes, Different ways to do certification – getting community involved
  • Kyler – interested in certification of equipment
  • Deo – data management. Certification of carbon credits, how it works for carbon
  • Rohan – interest in certification for proving environmental claims

John – objectives:

  • Where Agtools can go? Can they help with certification?
  • Organic industry certification – can FarmOS increased efficiency in certification, download your farm plan which helps
  • Ground truthing issues – collecting data on compliance
  • Fair trade and justice issues – aren’t included in the organic certification process
  • How do you verify a certain situation?


  • To understand how we can conduct MVR


  • FMS that enables data to flow into certification – are we doing it right?
  • Your perceptions of being a verification officer?
  • We can show current actions
  • Would a timeline – that tracks produce from seed to sale – would a visualisation work
  • LiteFarm – less rigorous but easier to use
  • Quantitative data and qualitative data – eg. What is your strategy for reducing water


  • What are the frictions between farmers and undertaking certification
  • Interested in understanding if and how monitoring processes are happening?


  • Unintended consequences of a regime 0 African Growth Opportunity Act – no taxes but need certification – so didn’t work as no farmer knew how to get certification
  • Must be certified USDA organic

Three types of certification

  • Individual gets certification from an auditor
  • Participatory guidance programs – (PGS) are peer-to-peer certification, good for local markets, lower costs and …driven by community concern – a homogenous group – agree on principles – almost like a micro-finance coop – can be as strict as they want – International Federation of International Organic Movements
  • Group certification – internal control certification – organic certification for a coop – eg. Coffee or cocoa – they collectively hire for the entire group = they spot test in order to get a representative sample (random or at-risk)

What tools are available to help with certification?

  • There is the Certifier is the third party – they hire the inspector – paid per farm – education is variable (eg. Would have to show my certification with International Inspectors Association to do work with PASA)
  • Time spent on a farm varies by produce – livestock versus crops versus processing – different scopes for each certification

What is the generic process?

  • On-farm inspector employed by Certifier
  • Scopes / standards are defined
  • Intensity of process
  • Data collection process – walking through the fields – with questions – then in the office where you are verifiying against the plan (that they sent you weeks ago)
  • Photography, mapping, invoices for sales, farm log, farm plan (standard operating procedure on each field)
  • Organic goes back 3 years, Carbon has a baseline
  • Hierarchy of actions – that can define acceptable actions
  • Plan won’t be the actual outcome but need to explain the difference
  • Scientific basis for certification – peer reviewed academic + 15% being withheld for data collection
  • “We are not the police – we are your partners” – they will connect you with the services that can help without triggering conflicts

In the carbon markets and ecosystem markets

  • Measurement and planning is subject to methodology

John – opensource has a primary role for third party verification – allows farmers to access resources to achieve their goals. But we are in an exploratory phase.