‘Our sector has a responsibility to use the world’s limited resources as efficiently and sustainably as possible’

GLOBALG.A.P.’s Dr Kristian Moeller discusses the merits of the organisation’s new Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) revised standard – Version 6, which becomes mandatory on January 2024.

The floriculture industry has never had a more important role to play. This is because, notes Dr Kristian Moeller, “it is bringing joy into some of the darkness and sadness in a world that is in a state of ‘poly-crisis.’”
Arguably, during challenging times, any culture – be it floriculture, the performing arts, visual arts, music and the like – lifts the spirits of and inspires humankind.

Dr Kristian Moeller of GLOBALG.A.P.

Dr Kristian Moeller of GLOBALG.A.P.

Responsible farming

But Moeller reminds us of the common argument that the resources spent on cultural activity should or could instead be used to help address the world’s challenges, such as food security.

With the sensitivity of this argument in mind, the floriculture sector – asserts Moeller – has a greater responsibility to use the world’s limited resources as efficiently and sustainably as possible. It also has a duty to do its utmost to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its labour force/workers.

He asserts: “Producing plants for the floriculture market is a profession requiring professional work. And professional work is responsible work. So, that is why we call it responsible farming.”

IFA Version 6 – streamlined for the floriculture sector

Helpfully, GLOBALG.A.P.’s new Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) revised standard – Version 6 – demonstrates that a producer is practising this type of responsible farming.

With a fresh focus on sustainability, it incorporates, for example, the health and safety of workers and the controlling and monitoring of energy, water, plant protection products, and fertilisers (nitrogen and phosphorous).

Moeller says: “What I think is very much appreciated by the industry is that IFA Version 6 for the floriculture sector is much more streamlined.”

Accommodating smaller businesses

IFA Version 6 has also been simplified so that it’s easier for smaller growers to adopt.

“We want to offer a feasible solution to smallholders to help grow the market. For some smaller growers, the older IFA standards contained elements – such as too much documentation – that were perhaps overwhelming for them to deal with. The new IFA, therefore, utilises simple, effective tools and is outcome-based.”

A customised approach

Moeller notes that another useful aspect of the new IFA standard is the way in which it has been designed to help growers better identify those sustainability practices they need to focus on the most.

“You’ve got to create your sustainability profile and then see what is best for your business. For example, if you are located near, or in, a nature reserve, then biodiversity may be a priority for you – whilst if you are growing in an arid climate, then the water use may be more of an issue.”

“That’s the beauty of the new standard – it’s more customised.”

The Impact-Driven Approach (IDA)

Also helping floriculture businesses attain and measure their sustainability goals is GLOBALG.A.P.’s Impact-Driven Approach (IDA) sustainability module. Launched in 2020, the IDA is a system that helps flower and ornamentals farms collect, process, and store their environmental sustainability data.

The module builds on the IFA standard as an add-on but can also be a smaller, independent standard on its own or in combination with a different farm assurance scheme.

It sees growers collect (and then submit) input consumption data that are then sent to GLOBALG.A.P. for processing. The data are returned to growers in the form of trend graphs and comparison reports.

Producers can then compare their input consumption data against similar growers (according to region, crop, and growing conditions) if they choose to.

Ultimately, this helps them to improve their farming efficiency and, therefore, their environmental credentials. Retailers want to see, for example, that their suppliers use pesticides responsibly or optimise their water use.

Since rolling out the IDA, Moeller acknowledges that the GLOBALG.A.P. team has had to work on building up the trust of growers who may be nervous about sharing their farms’ data.

“We are not reselling the data – their use is for protecting the industry. So, firstly we have to gain the trust of growers, and secondly, we have to make the data meaningful.

“And we also need some time to observe any trends and overall behaviours.”

“So, it’s a behavioural change that becomes a normal part of doing business. Hopefully, growers will become accustomed to making collecting and submitting data part of their routine.”

Connecting with consumers

Moeller also acknowledges the importance of conveying a positive message to consumers through GLOBALG.A.P.’s consumer label – the GGN label.

Launched in 2018, some 400 companies are already using it, and Moeller hopes it will continue to gain traction.

Moeller explains: “The idea is that, in future, we will help transfer to the floriculture industry some of the positive feelings people experience when they recognise a food assurance scheme label.

“When they see the label, they know it’s a product they can trust. We need to bring the entire floriculture industry to that level.”

He adds that growers will also gain recognition from the label and the wider GLOBALG.A.P. certification.

“As a grower, you are accountable for what you do for your business, environment, workers, and the next generation. And that type of understanding leads, of course, to recognition and the recognition of farmers.”

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This article was first published in the May 2023 edition of FloraCulture International.

Global G.A.P.



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