Participatory Guarantee Systems, Organic Council (PGSOC) is a tool to help build consumer credibility and increase the local market for organic produce. Based on consistent, publicly available standards of practice, based on the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Basic Standards, and using a systemized verification process, PGSOC evades the usual problems of the ‘inspection raj’ and instead creates a system in which small farmers can make the choice to go organic and have that choice be recognized by consumers. The concept is built on a foundation of trust, social interaction and knowledge exchange, creating a network amongst the farmers as well as guaranteeing their legitimacy as organic producers.
The “Local Group” of five or more organic farmers is the fulcrum of the self-regulatory support system of PGSOC. Their quality assurance standards are harmonized by the PGSOC, which then permits the use of its PGS label on a product as a mark of quality.
The PGS organic council is the central body that manages and coordinates the various certification initiatives all over the country. However, most groundwork is carried out by NGOs that have been working with organic farming in their respective areas for several years. The Keystone Foundation was one of the pioneers of the PGSOC initiative and has been carrying out its work since PGSOC’s inception.