Internal Organic Inspections are Complete: Let’s Review
Víctor Andrés García Alberca, an extensionist from the Union y Fe cooperative in Peru provided ElevaFinca with insight on the completion of the organic inspection process in Peru this year. This is an important step towards ensuring that the certification of organic products are verified and audited by a third-party external certification body.
What is an internal inspection?
Internal inspections are a way to prepare for the external organic auditing process. It is a self-evaluation process directed at all the producers of the cooperative from farm to export, ensuring all the paperwork and activities are in accordance with organic standards. Internal inspections are necessary as they allow cooperative management teams to obtain information and prepare for the external audit. The process consists of diagnosing the degree of compliance with the certification standards. Standards that are referenced and applied to cooperatives include the NOP, RTPO, EU, and EC OCIA standards. The ElevaFinca team supports and monitors processes together with the cooperatives. On-site supervision is provided by the cooperatives when visiting participating producers. The added technical and management support of ElevaFinca further guarantees that an organization will be able to comply with the shipments of certified coffee. Once the internal inspection is complete, the external organic certification body, OCIA (Organic Crop Improvement Association) will conduct the external inspection, which is then reported to SENASA.
What are the stages of an organic internal inspection?
The first activity is to recruit, train, and evaluate the abilities of inspectors to perform the duties assigned by the inspection process.
Internal Inspection planning begins.
Field visits and the evaluation of organic standards are verified with producers.
Internal inspectors gather and report on their findings.
The approval of the SIC (Sistema Inferno de Control) is completed.
Once activities are completed, an external inspection is requested.
During the internal inspection, what is being evaluated?
Pest and disease control.
Inputs used for production.
Evaluate field plots and adjacent areas.
The sketch of the coffee growing area is reviewed.
Evaluation of the wet mill structure, location, and conditions.
On-site coffee storage facilities.
Crop production records and composting processes.
Equipment cleaning logbooks and nursery conditions.
What Are Some Of The Challenges To Internal Inspections?
As part of organic auditing procedures, cooperatives and their members report the expected volume of organic production on an annual basis to help verify that all organic certified coffee is indeed organically produced. Challenges that may arise during internal inspections may involve misalignment of organic yields which are recorded, resulting in substantially higher or lower reporting.
The internal control systems in place help determine the overall coffee-producing areas and organic yield potential, which depends on the agricultural management practices being implemented at the farm level. When auditing results with producers that have struggled to meet their organic production quotas, the risk of blending non-organic coffee into organic lots from surrounding producers to meet their quota may become an activity. On the other hand, when organic yields are higher than the defined quotas allocated to a cooperative, it becomes more difficult to commercialize the volume because contracts are limited to a determined amount. Having greater organic yield may also incentivize a cooperative to sell their extra volume to other cooperatives who have struggled to meet their organic quotas.
Internal inspections are a valuable tool to help manage these challenges and maintain order in the production and exportation of organic coffee in Peru.
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