28 Jan 2013

Presentation of a new software tool for grower group certification

At the BioFach Congress 2013 in Nuremberg, experts from CERES and Organic Services will present the new software, its application and necessity.

Just like their counterparts in Europe, the US or Japan, small-scale farmers in developing countries who grow organic products, e.g. coffee, tea, sugar, bananas and cocoa must be regularly inspected and certified in order to sell organic products.

For these small farmers, individual certification by an external certification body is usually very time-consuming and costly. Therefore, the legal regulations on organic farming of the EU, the U.S. and Japan allow small farmers to join together in groups and to be certified as a group. For that purpose, these small farmer groups have to set up an internal control system.

As part of the internal control system (Internal Control System - ICS), inspectors of the grower group regularly control their individual members according to private or public standards (organic, fair, Utz etc.). Subsequently an external certification body certifies the group as a whole - as opposed to the individual certification of each grower. The external certification body is confined to reviewing the implementation and operation of the ICS, as well as to conducting a pre-defined number of spot checks of individual group members.

The systematic implementation and documentation of the internal control process is complex though. Therefore, the certification body CERES, the software company Intact Consult and the international consultancy Organic Services with funding from the Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (DEG) developed a software-based administration and documentation system that facilitates the implementation of internal control systems for grower groups.

During the BioFach Congress 2013 in Nuremberg, the software and its benefits for small farmers, certifiers and other market actors will be presented. We would be delighted to welcome you to our presentation on

"Professionalizing smallholders: Administration, inspection and certification of grower groups need to be significantly improved for the future acceptance by regulators and markets".

It will be held on Thursday, 14.02.2013, from 10:00 - 10:45 a.m. in Budapest Room (NCC Ost), NürnbergMesse.

Participants of the podium are:
Gerald A. Herrmann, Organic Services GmbH, Germany, moderation
Dr. Bernhard Schulz, Certification of Environmental Standards GmbH (CERES), Germany
Frank Gerriets, Organic Services GmbH, Germany
Ute Eisenlohr, Institute for Market Ecology (IMO), Switzerland
Katherine DiMatteo, Wolf, DiMatteo + Associates, USA
Steffen Reese, Naturland e.V., Germany

If you cannot attend the BioFach Congress, Mr. Frank Gerriets of Organic Services GmbH is at your disposal to present the new software in a video conference. Please send an e-mail to f.gerriets@remove-this.organic-services.com or give us a call at +49 (0) 89 820 759 04 to make an appointment.

More information and a video tutorial about the software can be found at:

A detailed presentation about the "Ecert Grower Groups" software is available here.