Decolonization of the Certification Schemes for Organic Products Through Participatory and Inclusive Processes such as the Participatory Guarantee System in the Plurinational State of Bolivia

by Eduardo Lopez Rosse (presenting author)

CIDES UMSA, Bolivia, Plurinational State of


Third party certification has been a cause of small farmer’s exclusion to participate in high value chains such as coffee and banana. The three major certification schemes that rule the market during the last 30 years are: Fair Trade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance. Exclusion of producers from these value chains increased rural poverty in coffee producing countries since 2000 due to the participation of commercial cartels that demand third party certification schemes for exporting to the north. In response to this unfair commercial trend, alternative certification appeared in the right moment to include these economically and socially marginalized small farmers with the participation of service providers, organized consumers groups. In Bolivia, the Law 3525/2005 for the promotion of organic agriculture allows the participatory certification through the Participatory Guarantee Schemes (PGS) based on the IFOAM’s guidelines which are a voluntary process developed by the involved actors in the short organic value chains that verify the production and process of production and processing. In this study, three study cases were chosen in order to be described and assessed: 1) Achocalla (Municipal PGS), 2) Eco-Feria (Private PGS) and 3) CIOEC (Communal PGS).The results showed that Municipal PGS are much more successful than private and communal PGS due to the social capital and financial capital present. Communal PGS cannot be sustainable because there are differences between producer’s associations and do not maintain a continuous production supply for some organic produce for local markets. Private PGS are not successful as well due the specialization and the lack of product supply during demanding seasons.