By Murimi Gitari

GLOBALG.A.P. Managing Director Dr. Kristian Moeller, who was in Nairobi to attend the second edition of GLOBALG.A.P. Tourstop in March, discusses the organisation’s experience working in more than 100 countries to promote adoption of the international certification standard key to ensuring food safety and unlocking export markets.

What is the aim of GLOBALG. AP. in the more than 100 countries it is operating?

Initially we were known as EUREGAP but we transited to GLOBALG.A.P. because fresh fruits and vegetables come around the globe. We work around the globe and have our staff in over 40 countries and members in over 80 countries. We have a global community of producers, retailers, auditing bodies and input firms amongst others. In this big community we work together with one objective of bringing safer food that is responsibly produced for the consumers.

Are there countries where you have faced reluctance in terms of GLOBALG.A.P. standards adoption?

This is like a learning process. At the beginning people used to say that our standards and the process of certification is a very long checklist that was not even developed in their respective countries but they later on adopted and started learning step by step.

Once a producer adopts the standards and starts implementation then it becomes easier for them. Mostly the reluctance is due to misunderstanding of some language of requirements because when the standard was developed there was no input from those countries. We, however, started involving these countries by having their input when developing the standards and the requirements and this is how they got ownership of it.

Individual countries have own local standards. Do the GLOBALG.A.P. standards conflict with these local standards?

First of all, GLOBAG.A.P. is a global reference for standard. As an organisation we do direct certification but we also have national interpretation guidelines to bring the ownership to the countries built in the national legislation. There is also the opportunity that we call benchmarking for the recognition of other local standards. These are very mature standards that were basically created the same time when we developed our standards. We work closer with these standards to develop a concept of one standard combined and probably have two certificates. This will help reduce duplication.

How do you address the limitations associated with reluctance in the adoption of the standards?

There is always reluctance when it comes to change but at times it calls us to see the purpose of it. As an organisation we are open to listening and collaborating as the key goal is safely produced farm produce for the consumer. A producer who wants to access a certain market will have to comply with good agricultural practices and other local standards set. Being certified by GLOBALG.AP. makes it simple for a producer as it will not require them to go through all other standards. When we developed the standards there were worldwide consultations and we listened and engaged to come up with what is needed.

Having been the chief party in the 2023 GLOBAL G.A.P Tour stop in Nairobi’s Safari Park Hotel, what are your expectations with respect to the agricultural sector in Kenya?

As GLOBAG.A.P., we are grateful to Rootooba for having helped us organise the Nairobi tourstop. The event is a great one and well organized. The response by agricultural stakeholders and the Kenyan government shows the urge by the people of Kenya to embrace good agricultural practices and we intend to have the tourstop run every year

As a certification body you are tasked with assessing whether different players in the agricultural sector adhere to good agricultural practices. What happens where entities fail to meet these standards?

We challenge ourselves as an organisation. We have over 200,000 plus farms and one can imagine the number of audits done every year. We connect with our certification bodies and conduct integrity assessment for trust where we are able to know what works and what does not.

We have an extension of capacity building through the GLOBALG.A.P. academy programme. With local requirements and need, we are able to get public donor funds and government funds to help and do the trainings. It is important to be a professional farmer when one wants to access the markets. A professional farmer understands the needs of the market, understands good agricultural practices.

Many smallholder farmers have been looking forward to accessing the opportunities for exporting their products but are not able to because they find certification a tedious and costly process. Are there better ways to ensure that this part of the population is able to access the export market in terms of certification?

Small-scale farmers play an important role in addressing food security. As GLOBALG.A.P. there is the option of group certification where these smallscale farmers can come together to form a group and get certified.

About 75 percent of certified farms under GLOBALG.A.P. are from organised groups. They are all certified under one aggregated group. We work with these groups to ensure the audit and compliance process is as efficient as possible. The burden of third party audit is therefore distributed as far as possible.

We are also working on digitilisation to ensure there is much less human audit on every farm. So there is much more capital of data to give to trust. We are using a holistic approach to reduce costs associated with auditing. Smallscale farmers only require support in things they do not have knowledge of, and not what they already know.

For instance, where they need to have a certain hygiene, they know how to do it and support is therefore not necessary. Governments can, however, support them in terms of trainings and infrastructure. The private sector can also be involved where there is the right framework.

How would you compare the adoption of GLOBALG.A.P. standards in Africa to other continents?

Initially the biggest adoption of the standards was in Europe but currently the biggest potential even for markets and where our programmes are majorly focused is in Africa. The new version of the standard and the local GAP programme recognises that it is now the time for Africa.

Many young Africans have started realising the potential in the agriculture sector unlike it was in the case 10 to 20 years ago when everyone wanted to be a white-collar worker.

Aquaculture is one of the scopes of production that GLOBAL G.A.P. certifies. Has the certification body encountered enough concerns from different countries regarding how to upscale aquaculture, or is it a practice that is gradually losing its value?

The aquaculture scope is growing faster under GLOBALG.A.P. and for producers. We have a particular focus now on Africa as it has the potential in the sector with aquaculture products being source of proteins and other nutritional values. The certification for this scope is similar to the others. The sector has a big potential and similarly the standards will sooner or later adapt.

How have you managed to maintain your position as a certification body globally?

We have national technical working groups, national standards benchmarks, national guidelines. It is all about bringing the brand to the governance structure. We acknowledge the other local standards. For instance, I have come to learn that it is not mandatory to have the KS1758 certificate for Kenyan producers as long as you have a certificate that is equivalent to it and our certificate has this.

Looking at the other tourstops you have held previously, how would you describe the Nairobi tourstop?

It was the best tourstop I have ever attended and quite organised as far as I recall. The team behind the planning and organising the event led by Rootooba knew what they were doing as many delegates and even exhibitors attended.

The engagement of the political class and even attendance by quite a large number of farmers have proven that this is so far the best tourstop ever. This shows a new concept for the tourstops and I personally feel honoured to be here and I look forward to being a co-host with Rootooba. I have done more than 50 tourstops and I know how hard it is to even plan.

Therefore, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Rootooba team and partners for the efforts they put in planning and making the event a success. My message is now to follow up on those that attended and build on that base. As an organisation we will offer our support and look forward to even organising regional tourstops.

When you are not in the office or working, what do you love doing during your free time?

I love travelling and my plan was to stay for two or more weeks in Kenya and explore the country. I love the wilderness, the forest and I usually go hunting as I like being close to nature

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