Agreement on GAP gets the tick
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
2. Support farms to become more sustainable and resilient
3. Work toward a common set of criteria for good
4. Reduce duplication of systems to verify compliance on
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.