The South African Organic Sector Organisation (SAOSO) in collaboration with Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) South Africa (SA) has launched South Africa’s first Ecological Organic Agriculture Pollinator programme.
The programme aims to support smallholder farmers to gain recognition for their organic practices and enables them to “pollinate” organic knowledge to support their local community of farmers in transitioning from the expensive, conventional, mono-cropping model. The programme has completed its first module training 20 people to set up PGSs throughout South Africa aiming to build more connected local food systems, provide organic assurance for consumers and support organic growers in sharing knowledge.
“Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGSs) are locally focused quality assurance systems. They certify producers based on the active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange” (IFOAM-Organics International, the global umbrella organisation of the organic agriculture movement). PGS is gaining traction worldwide as an accessible and appropriate model for smallholder organic farmers seeking local markets.
The pollinators, from seven provinces, are learning more about PGS and how to mobilise their communities to facilitate the establishment of new PGS groups. Thereafter they will attend training sessions on ecological organic agricultural practices.
As a group of organic advocates, they facilitate the knowledge exchange within the PGS group in support of sustainable farming practices in South Africa.
Sasha Mentz, the programme coordinator, states that “Now that this first module is completed, pollinators have a solid foundation to mobilise their farmers and communities around fostering a shared vision for organic production locally. Pollinators are eager to hit the ground running with setting up their PGS groups and facilitating farm visits. It is an exciting time, as their work will see the number of PGS groups in operation in the country triple over the next few months”.
A PGS group functions through annual visits to each farm by the groups’ farmer, retailer, and consumer members wherein the farm is peer reviewed and assessed against the organic standard. PGS SA encourages PGS groups to align to the SAOSO Standard and farmers are supported to convert their practices towards being fully compliant. Each farm visit costs approximately 2k Rands.
The PGS Group Technical Support Lead, Matthew Purkis, shared “To support the Pollinators in their work going forward, PGS SA has started a crowd funding campaign to assist the development of PGS groups nationally. ”
PGS SA has launched the Ecological Organic Agriculture Pollinator Programme with support from the Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in Southern Africa (KH SA). KH SA is a collaborative country-led partnership funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is one of five Knowledge Hubs for Organic Agriculture making up the Knowledge Centre for Organic Agriculture pursuing the goal of disseminating knowledge and shaping a network on a national, regional and continental level.
KH SA is operating in Zambia, Namibia and South Africa with plans to extend the project to Malawi in 2021. The South African-based Sustainability Institute provides support for the regional project implementation.
SAOSO leads project activities in South Africa. The other four Knowledge Hubs for Organic Agriculture are implemented by GIZ in North, West and Eastern and Central Africa.