Sustainability is at the forefront of GLOBALG.A.P.’s revised Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) scheme for floriculture.
Juan Carlos Isaza, GLOBALG.A.P.’s senior technical expert for floriculture, aptly utilises the simple but effective word ‘good’ when discussing GLOBALG.A.P.’s current ambition. He says, “The main goal we focus on is to offer a good standard – good in the sense that it’s good for producers and good for buyers.”
Since forming 20 years ago, GLOBALG.A.P. has become a widely respected farm assurance scheme. And, like all successful international organisations, it must adapt to our changing world and customers’ changing demands.
GLOBALG.A.P.’s business-to-business Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) standard for floriculture has, therefore, just undergone a revision process. Isaza: “We’ve addressed the main expectations of buyers and consumers – but at the same time respected the realities of growers. So, our aim is to now deliver a standard that is satisfying those needs. And once we’ve successfully achieved that then, of course, we’d like to grow our membership.”
Currently, some 2,500 floriculture growers from 49 countries are IFA certified. Isaza recalls that although the standard addressed environment, health, and safety when first created in 2002, it primarily focuses on addressing plant health and product quality issues.
Two decades on, such matters remain essential – but there’s now a renewed focus on sustainability. This attention includes the health and safety of workers and the controlling and monitoring of energy, water, plant protection products, and fertilisers (nitrogen and phosphorous).
The need for the floriculture supply chain to understand the consumption of these products and resources led to the launch, in 2020, of GLOBALG.A.P.’s Impact-Driven Approach (IDA) sustainability module. This detail, notes Isaza, is a system that helps flower and ornamentals farms collect, process, and store their environmental sustainability data.
The new IDA module builds on the existing IFA standard as an add-on. Still, it can also be a smaller, independent standard or combined with a different farm assurance scheme.
In addition to its certified members, GLOBALG.A.P. helpfully recognises other benchmark schemes and works with 160 certification schemes worldwide. “The idea is to avoid duplication, so that a farmer or a grower shouldn’t have to undergo two equal or similar audits. Most of those growers in the tropics, for example, are with benchmark schemes such as the Kenya Flower Council,” notes Isaza.
GLOBALG.A.P. has also simplified its IFA floriculture standard to make it more accessible for smaller growers. Isaza says, “We want to offer a solution to smallholders. For some small growers, the standard used to contain elements – such as too much documentation – that were perhaps overwhelming for them to deal with. And so, the standard has been streamlined in terms of its communication requirements and has been fine-tuned to focus exclusively on flowers and ornamentals. Previously, there were some overlaps with food production. But these have all been removed. It’s very lean now and very much dedicated to smallholders.”
Isaza adds that remote auditing – introduced during the height of the global pandemic when auditors could not travel – has inadvertently created a new opportunity for growers. It has enabled them to utilise technologies such as mobile phones and drones to aid the auditing process. “Whenever an audit, or a part of an audit, can be done remotely, it is carried out in this way. Moreover, when an auditor does visit a farm, their time can be used more efficiently.”
Meanwhile, as it strives to improve its offering to buyers, the GLOBALG.A.P. standard has been the base for developing the GGN consumer label. Sarah von Fintel, key account manager of GGN label floriculture, notes that some 400 companies use the GGN label (launched in 2018). She explained that it better connects consumers with the origins of the flowers and plants they are buying. Cleverly, each 13-digit number on the GGN label identifies the grower of the plant by locating them on the GLOBALG.A.P. database.
Von Fintel says: “We see the GGN label a bit like the cherry on the top. Now, there is something that the consumer can use to trace the origins of the plant – as well as a something that the retailer can use to really demonstrate its sustainable sourcing policy. Transparency is at the heart of our label.”
The GGN label confirms, for instance, that an auditor from an accredited and independent certification body approved by GLOBALG.A.P. has checked to see if the farm complies with strict rules and regulations to protect its workers’ health, safety, and welfare.
The GLOBALG.A.P. team aims to ensure that flowers and ornamentals are produced as sustainably as possible – encouraging the worldwide floriculture industry to farm responsibly and meet buyers’ requirements (retailers) and consumers.
What is the GGN label, and what does it stand for?
The GLOBALG.A.P. Number stands for certified, responsible farming and transparency. The GGN label is on both packed and loose products. It exists to offer consumers relevant assurance and orientation throughout the store. It confirms that this product is grown in line with certified, responsible farming practices covering food safety, environmental protection, animal welfare, social responsibility, and supply chain transparency. The GGN label is applicable on:
• Fruit and vegetables
• Farmed seafood and algae
• Flowers and plants.
Transparency is at the heart of the label – connecting consumers to the roots of food and plants. And by promoting certified, responsible farming that benefits farmers, retailers, and consumers around the globe, Global GAP supports worldwide sustainable development for the good of future generations and our planet.