Agree­ment on GAP gets the tick

The Orchardist - - Contents - By Matt Dolan

This agree­ment is an ini­tia­tive by the Sus­tain­able Agri­cul­ture Ini­tia­tive, GLOB­ALG.A.P, and Stan­dards Map, (which part of the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion), which, ac­cord­ing to the pro­mo­tional spin, seeks to “progress Good Agri­cul­tural Prac­tice (GAP) prin­ci­ples as a means to ad­dress the com­plex is­sues around en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial as­pects of agri­cul­ture”.

This sounds a bit pie-in-the-sky, but after read­ing a bit more and ask­ing a few ques­tions, I be­gan to un­der­stand more about the point of the dec­la­ra­tion, which is that nei­ther the mar­ket, nor Gov­ern­ments are mak­ing any mean­ing­ful progress on ad­dress­ing the is­sues re­lat­ing to sus­tain­abil­ity and other is­sues we ap­par­ently have in agri­cul­ture. The dec­la­ra­tion pro­poses that a dif­fer­ent ap­proach is needed.

In­stead of ar­gu­ing about which GAP stan­dard is bet­ter than the other, we should fo­cus on what we are all look­ing to achieve and then agree on the high level ob­jec­tives that might get us there. Now they had my at­ten­tion!

When it comes to global agree­ments on sav­ing the world, I am as cyn­i­cal as the next per­son. But the Dec­la­ra­tion of Abu Dhabi has caught my at­ten­tion. “In­stead of ar­gu­ing about which GAP stan­dard is bet­ter than the other, we should fo­cus on what we are all look­ing to achieve and then agree on the high level ob­jec­tives that might get us there.”

There are three ba­sic prin­ci­ples be­hind this agree­ment:

• The first is that a common set of ob­jec­tives re­lat­ing to good prac­tice should be agreed and recog­nised by the re­tail­ers, gov­ern­ments and other or­gan­i­sa­tions that own GAP pro­grammes.

All farms that im­ple­ment prac­tices that align with the ob­jec­tives should be recog­nised. This would mean that the brand of GAP cer­tifi­cate the farm holds be­comes less im­por­tant.

• The own­ers of schemes should be able to mea­sure and re­port the progress that is be­ing made in is­sues that are cov­ered in their GAP schemes.

There eight ob­jec­tives that the own­ers of GAP schemes should work to­wards:

1. Im­ple­ment good agri­cul­tural prac­tices to in­crease food

se­cu­rity sus­tain­ably

2. Support farms to be­come more sus­tain­able and re­silient

3. Work to­ward a common set of cri­te­ria for good

agri­cul­tural prac­tices

4. Re­duce du­pli­ca­tion of sys­tems to ver­ify com­pli­ance on

farms

5. Co-op­er­ate be­tween gov­ern­ments and mar­ket ac­tors

6. Re­port on progress

7. Com­mu­ni­cate ad­di­tional claims

8. Mo­ti­vate the cur­rent and next gen­er­a­tion to work in

agri­cul­ture and agribusi­ness

This may go some way to sort­ing out the schemes that are com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing prac­tices, from the ones that just hand out cer­tifi­cates. There are hun­dreds of sus­tain­abil­ity and good prac­tice pro­grammes start­ing up around the world each year. The ones that can prove that they are mak­ing progress against their ob­jec­tives will prob­a­bly be the suc­cess­ful ones.

NZGAP has com­mit­ted to sign­ing the Dec­la­ra­tion of Abu Dhabi. This il­lus­trates our strat­egy to pro­vide a scheme that ad­dresses New Zealand is­sues, but main­tains strong links to the global net­works and or­gan­i­sa­tions that pro­mote and support Good Agri­cul­tural Prac­tice.

The Dec­la­ra­tion of Abu Dhabi: Sort­ing out the schemes com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing prac­tices from the ones that just hand out cer­tifi­cates.

Matt Dolan

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