ifoam'96 ifoam'96
Book of Abstracts
11th IFOAM Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996, Copenhagen, Denmark
EcoWeb Denmark


Building a certification body from start to finish.W4/P2

Blake, Francis1, Gunnarsson, Gunnar2

1)Soil Association, Bristol BS1 5BB, UKTUN; 2) ehf, Vik 870, Iceland

In 1994 the Icelandic organic farming organisations, VOR and Myrdalur Organic Community, approached the Soil Association to assist them indeveloping an Icelandic certification body, given the increasing interest in Iceland. The Soil Association, working with these bodies through its International Programme, drew up a three year project in five modules: 1. Developing Icelandic standards - with consultation of all interested parties; finally printed in Icelandic this year. 2. Establishing the certification structure - including the organisation ownership and constitution, all laid down in a comprehensive Operating Manual covering application, monitoring, disciplinary and appeals procedures, and documentation control and internal review. 3. Training of inspection and certification personnel - starting with an intensive two week course in the UK giving an introduction to standards, certification processes and inspection techniques with participative learning in the classroom and »hands-on« inspection training in the field. Inspections under supervision were then carried out in Iceland in the subsequent few months. 4. Establishing the certification office - based on the comprehensive certification database developed specially by the Soil Association Symbol Scheme. This stores all details and information, generates all documentation and maintains the certification timetable. 5. Gaining international recognition - including IFOAM Accreditation and acceptance by the EU.
1996 is the third year of this project, with the first three modules successfully completed. The new body, TUN, is now approved by the Icelandic Government and has almost 20 operators certified. These started under Soil Association certification with transference to TUN being undertaken this year.
Critical factors have been: high motivation, time input and professionalism on the part of the local management team - adequate resources - cooperation of the government.
The first has greatly helped the success of the project. The latter two have not been so forthcoming and have hindered progress somewhat. Other lessons and conclusions will be discussed.