Friday, September 16, 2016

Step by step: Moving forward toward safe and sustainable agriculture

Consumers worldwide want to be sure that the food they eat is healthy and safe. That’s why more and more retailers are requiring their suppliers to provide certifications. But this is a dilemma for many producers, especially those in emerging countries. They are not able to achieve the required standards, but they cannot access the market without certification. This is exactly where the new BayG.A.P. service program comes into play.
Ronald Guendel, Global Head of Food Chain Relations at Bayer.
Ronald Guendel, Global Head of Food Chain Relations at Bayer.

If you wanted to learn to fly you wouldn’t start with a jumbo jet, would you? Of course not – you would start with something smaller. The same applies to standards for the production of fresh food such as fruits and vegetables. GLOBALG.A.P. is the certification scheme which sets the highest standards. “To give just one example: if you are a producer from Costa Rica exporting bananas to the European market, you will definitely need to have GLOBALG.A.P. certification,” says Ronald Guendel, Global Head of Food Chain Relations at Bayer.

Challenging standards

GLOBALG.A.P. was started in 1997 upon the initiative of retailers, with the objective of harmonizing standards and procedures as well as developing an independent certification system for Good Agricultural Practices (G.A.P.). Today, GLOBALG.A.P. is the world’s leading farming assurance program, with more than 228 certified products and over 140,000 producers in 118 countries. This benchmark system translates consumer requirements into sustainable production methods.

For many years, Bayer has helped producers worldwide to obtain GLOBALG.A.P. certification by holding training sessions and giving advice. “The set of standards includes more than 200 control points. It takes a lot of expertise to meet all of the requirements,” says Ronald Guendel. Sometimes this is too much to ask of small and medium-sized farms in developing countries with a low level of technology.

Uniting forces

The idea behind the introduction of localg.a.p. was to create a stepping stone to GLOBALG.A.P. The result is a cost-effective solution for emerging markets that helps producers gain gradual recognition by providing an entry level to certification schemes. “In 2013, we started to talk with GLOBALG.A.P. about forming a cooperative partnership in which we would systematically customize our BayG.A.P. service program,” Ronald Guendel states. This process has included the qualification of Bayer experts as Licensed Farm Assurers, and GLOBALG.A.P. has conducted four training sessions on four continents. “In the meantime, we have also worked on the BayG.A.P. training material. It was key that it included all of the control points of the localg.a.p. standard.” In 2015, at the Fruit Logistica Trade Fair, this cooperation was formalized when Bayer and GLOBALG.A.P. signed an agreement to join forces to further improve farming practices.

The three phases of BayG.A.P.

Today, the BayG.A.P. service program consists of three pillars: intensive group training, individualized crop advice, and verification support for localg.a.p. and other certification schemes. “In practice, Bayer comes into play upon request of a processor or retailer, asking us to improve the good agricultural practices of a supplier. Then, we send our trained facilitators to the producer’s farm, where they provide advice and support the certification procedures,” explains Ronald Guendel. A win-win situation for all partners along the food chain: Producers can sell at higher prices and improve their income; processors and retailers benefit from consistently high product quality as well as traceability; and consumers can rest assured that they are buying safe and healthy food.

GLOBALG.A.P. Summit 2016

Bayer presented the BayG.A.P. concept at the GLOBALG.A.P. Summit 2016 in Amsterdam. Dr. Arnd Nenstiel, Global Head of Agricultural Policy & Stakeholder Affairs, was a panelist at the plenary session “Bringing more governments on board” and talked about the need for more collaboration in agriculture between governmental institutions and the private sector.

Begin small, grow big

No wonder BayG.A.P. is a success story. After only three years, Ronald Guendel and his team have brought BayG.A.P. to 20 countries in Latin and Central America, Africa, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. “Our goal is to have 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,” says Ronald Guendel. An ambitious target – but realistic, because the idea is convincing. BayG.A.P. makes it possible for farmers to achieve the required standards and opens doors to new markets.

Bayer Division Crop Science

Food Chain Partnership
Phone: +49 2173 38 48 28
Fax: +49 2173 38 33 83

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