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ICS / Group Farming


  • Is a necessary tool to allow smallholders access to organic markets.
  • Requests a high level of commitment and knowledge by the organisation or certificate holder.
  • Is possible for crop production, animal husbandry, or beekeeping.


  • The group certification system is based on an internal quality system and shall apply to groups, cooperatives, contract producers and small scale processing.
  • Producers must have a similar production system and should be in geographical proximity (min No. 25 and max no. 500).
  • Farms with land holding of 4 ha and above can be part of the group but will be inspected annually.


  • A group must have a legal status and a well structured and documented Internal control system.
  • Groups shall be inspected twice annually by trained inspection staff who shall not have any conflict of interest that hinders work.
  • There shall be documented records signed by producers and inspectors.


  • The IQS pertaining to a group should have SOPs, Internal standards in local language, sufficient staff to operate the ICS an internal approval body which evaluates, supervises, approved and imposes sanctions if necessary.


  • ICS personnel shall be adequately trained and records pertaining to training shall be made available.
  • Farmers shall be regularly trained by ICS personnel, there shall be one initial advisory visit and training details shall be documented.


  • The sampling plan for inspection is based on the inspector’s perception of risk based on the following factors:
  • Size of holding, Number of the members in the group, Degree of similarity between the production system and crop system, inter mingling/contamination, local hazards. Risk factor calculation are as per respective standandards.


  • The group must present a detailed Organic Management Plan.
  • Farmers must keep a minimum of records.
  • Records on purchased, stored, processed, and sold quantities must be kept at each step, from the producer to export or final sale.


  • The group can only be certified in case the ICS works properly.
  • In case certification relates to crop production in a group, all rules applicable to crop production shall apply.
  • New producers can be included in the organic farmers list only after approval by the certifier.