Internal Control Systems
"We believe that a farmer is not just a producer of organic cotton for us, but he is our partner in creating ecologically and economically sustainable agriculture."
Niranjan Pattni, BioRe Tanzania
Many organic farmers in developing countries operate in a small-scale production system. The certification of organic cotton in these production systems can be done with the aid of an Internal Control System (ICS). This practice allows producer associations or groups to practice group certification, where individual certification would be onerous and costly.
According to IFOAM, an ICS can be defined as: “a documented quality assurance system that allows the external certification body to delegate the annual inspection of individual group members to an identified body within the certified operator”.
The ICS ensures the integrity, in terms of “organic quality” that producers claim for their products, particularly in small-holder projects. The main objective of an ICS and group certification is to reduce the cost of certification without compromising the quality. Farmers' groups carry out internally the major part of the inspection work that the external auditor verifies by conducting random inspections on the documentation and farm visits.