Tag Archives: Agriculture

The Rainforest Alliance assumes full ownership of certification system

The Rainforest Alliance assumes full ownership of certification system

On August 31, 2017, the Rainforest Alliance (RA) and the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) signed an agreement for the transfer of ownership of the shared RA/SAN certification system entirely to the Rainforest Alliance, a process that will commence on 1 October 2017.

The agreement includes a license to the Rainforest Alliance for the use of the 2017 SAN Standard, transfer of the management of assurance operations through certification bodies, Chain of Custody scheme and all certification and standard-related operations exclusively to the Rainforest Alliance.

In the interim, the Rainforest Alliance and SAN will manage the transfer through a mutually agreed-upon transition plan that will provide continuity to the certification program.  The timeline for this transition is:

  • Chain of Custody ownership and system transferred to the Rainforest Alliance (October 1, 2017);
  • The Rainforest Alliance assumes control of assurance operations and procedures, and investigations into alleged non-conformances (October 12, 2017);
  • The Rainforest Alliance assumes operational control of the certification scheme, of the standards and policies including pending SAN modifications to the standard, related technologies and tools, related documents and external communications (November 15, 2017);
  • From November 16 through December 31, 2017, the SAN will support and advise the Rainforest Alliance in the management of the scheme;
  • SAN’s responsibilities to the scheme ends December 31, 2017;
  • The Rainforest Alliance will become the sole owner and operator of the certification scheme on January 1, 2018.

The Rainforest Alliance and the SAN are working diligently to ensure that the certification system operates without interruption during and after the transition.  Further, the Rainforest Alliance is committed to protecting the credibility and transparency of the certification scheme and as such is taking additional steps to ensure the independence and impartiality of its internal certification arm, RA-Cert.

The Rainforest Alliance and the SAN remain fully committed to the advancement of sustainability. SAN’s work will now be focused on the creation of customized sustainable solutions for agricultural value chains beyond certification, including assurance and verification tools, technical assistance and coaching, and the development of innovation projects at regional and international levels.

“Certification has been and continues to be a valuable tool to support improvements in agriculture. After working with certification for over 20 years, we see that there is a strong body of evidence about the positive social and environmental impacts of this tool”, stated Andre de Freitas, Executive Director of the SAN. “However, we have concluded that, as a network of leading social and environmental organizations, SAN can be much more effective by pivoting its work to capacity development and more focused interventions for the many farmers in the world not reachable by certification. We thank Rainforest Alliance for the strong partnership over this period and wish them all the best in the running of the certification scheme.”

Nigel Sizer, president of the Rainforest Alliance adds, “Over the past twenty years the Rainforest Alliance and SAN have made long strides in helping transform agriculture practices in the tropics. We have absolutely moved the needle in addressing some of the greatest challenges facing society in terms of mitigating the effects of climate change and curbing deforestation. This has been a long and successful partnership and we are mindful of the important work SAN has done in guiding millions of farmers down the path of sustainability.”

The Alliance for Sustainable Certification between SAN members is born

The Alliance for Sustainable Certification between SAN members is born

A new cooperation agreement was signed on September 21 between certification institutions for agroindustrial production, processing and distribution systems, as well as tourism; which are linked to some of the partners of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), such as: Natura Certification Foundation (NaturaCert), Inter-American Tropical Research Foundation (FIIT), Institute for Cooperation and Self-Development (ICADE) and Forest and Agricultural Management and Certification (IMAFLORA), Certifier of Sustainable Products SC (PPS) and SalvaNATURA.

DKRdbCfXUAED0YFAt the conclusion of a series of meetings and agreements among the members of the SAN, the representatives of the certifying institutions signed cooperation agreements with the objective of strengthening operational efficiency and business capacity, aimed at providing quality services related to auditing, certification, verification and training in countries where they are able to offer such services.

The signatory organizations have offices in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

The SAN’s Executive Director, Andre de Freitas, explained that this alliance will allow to take advantage of the strengths of each of the certification bodies, joining efforts to achieve more effective certification processes.

Also, the Executive Director of the Natura Foundation, Elsa Matilde Escobar, said that for this organization it is very important to be part of the agreement, through its certifying body NaturaCert, because this way, it will be able to continue supporting more producers in the process of improving their production systems.

Conclude 2nd round of requests for the Exceptional Use of Pesticides

Conclude 2nd round of requests for the Exceptional Use of Pesticides

  • SAN publishes an updated policy including the last official resolutions binding with 2017 SAN Standard.
  • During the second round of requests, finished last June 30, 250 requests were received.

Today, the Sustainable Agriculture Network has published an updated version of its Policy on Exceptional Use of FAO/WHO HHP Pesticides that includes the last authorizations granted after the last round of requests.

The second round of requests finished last June 30, with the reception of 250 applications covering 13 substances, 17 countries and 16 different crops. 50% of them were accepted as being aligned to the rules for this period and the other 50% of requests was rejected.

These authorizations will be valid until June 30, 2020 and only with the condition that strict risk management requirements are implemented according to 2017 SAN Standard provisions.

The only exception is in the use of epoxiconazole in coffee plantations, which is only authorized for one year (until June 30, 2018) due the reproductive toxic risk for knapsack spraying pesticide handlers. You can read the full list of authorizations here.

The main reasons for the rejection of all other requests for the exceptional use of FAO/WHO highly hazardous pesticides are (you can read the detailed report here):

  • Incomplete information
  • Substances were not within the range of the 26 active ingredients announced on June 15.
  • Substances are not effective for the control of the indicated pest species
  • Toxicity profile too high (e.g. WHO 1a or a combination of reproductive and mutagenic toxicity)
  • Other less toxic, effective and registered alternatives are available.

You can read the updated policy here. Please, send your questions about the documents to s&p@san.ag

SAN updates its Policy on the Exceptional Use of FAO/WHO HHP pesticides

SAN updates its Policy on the Exceptional Use of FAO/WHO HHP pesticides

  • As part of the preparation of the entry into force of the SAN 2017 standard, 70 requests to authorize the exceptional use of 27 substances over a limited time were received. SAN authorized the potential use of 12 active ingredients for specific crops and countries.
  • SAN opened a new reception period of requests for exceptional use of pesticides that will be closed on next June 30.

SAN P SP 7 V1_Policy_on_Exceptional_Use_of_FAO_WHO_HHP_pesticides_July_2017 .pdfFrom the almost 70 applications received, 75% complied with the published SAN information requirements, covering 27 active ingredients for 28 countries and 35 crops.

After thorough technical analysis, case by case, with its pesticide experts, SAN decided to update its “Policy on the Exceptional Use of FAO/WHO HHP pesticides” which substitutes the former procedure. You can read the new policy here.

Based on the technical analysis of the evidence presented, 12 active ingredients received authorizations for specific country or crop. These authorizations will be valid until June 30, 2020 and only on the condition that strict risk management requirements are implemented. You can read the full list of authorizations here.

The main reasons for the rejection of all other requests for the exceptional use of FAO/WHO highly hazardous pesticides are (you can read the detailed report here):

  • No evidence of producers’ use/need was provided;
  • SAN has no certified organizations within the requested crop or country scope;
  • There are less toxic, effective and registered alternatives;
  • Other alternative substances are authorized by SAN;
  • Requested substances’ chronic risk profile is too high;
  • Requested substances are listed in the Rotterdam Convention; or
  • Requested substances meet the criteria of class Ia (extremely hazardous) of the WHO Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard.

SAN is opening up a short extension period until June 30, 2017 to receive new requests for exceptional use under the following conditions:

  • Requests shall be sent to s&p@san.ag.
  • Requests will only be accepted, if sent by agriculture or cattle producer representatives and if representing a proven need based on realistic evidence for the use of prohibited pesticides by the producer.
  • Only requests for crop or country crop expansions covering the current SAN certificate scope will be accepted.
  • No requests for new active ingredients that are not included in this policy will be granted. See the last page of the policy for more details.

SAN expands beyond certification in order to accelerate agricultural transformation

SAN expands beyond certification in order to accelerate agricultural transformation

New SAN1

SAN now offers customized Solutions for Sustainability related to verification, assurance, technical assistance and project development.

The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) announced today the decision to expand its scope and work with other tools beyond certification to accelerate the agriculture transformation the world needs. SAN is moving from being purely a standard-setting body and co-manager of a certification system, to becoming an implementation partner for farmers, companies and donors. SAN will now provide customized solutions in the areas of assurance and verification, technical assistance and coaching, and the development of innovation projects at regional and international levels.

“The challenges our planet faces are huge and growing fast; from climate change and biodiversity destruction to child labor and workers’ rights, our world is at risk in many areas. At SAN we believe we can help transform agriculture, from farm to final product, by providing customized, credible and innovative solutions for farmers, companies and donors and thereby become an accelerator of positive change for both people and planet.”

Andre de Freitas, SAN Executive Director

SAN’s new focus is on creating individual plans by crop, regions and/or environmental/social/economic issues, according to the needs of the company, sector or donor partner. Custom plans can be dynamic and include opportunities for stretch goals and continuous improvement. Furthermore, the new SAN Solutions for Sustainability can also help value chains become Climate Smart, Deforestation Free, Pollinator Friendly and Socially Responsible. This new focus allows companies and brands to make unique and compelling, social and environmental claims directly to consumers.

With more than 20 years of experience working with producers, companies, certification standards, auditors and trainers around the world, SAN will be a powerful and efficient ally to the partners it works with, to help achieve and monitor goals, to create value on the ground and to transform agricultural practices. SAN is a member-led organization combining global and local reach and is comprised of a global network of NGOs, with a central secretariat staff working in the UK, the US, Costa Rica and Guatemala.

“Through our network of local members, and using our best-in-class agricultural standard as a road map, we can help achieve agricultural transformation with real scale, in a practical and efficient manner.”

Romeo Domínguez, SAN Board President.

This expansion in SAN’s work is a natural evolution of the organization and allows it to continue to deliver on the core mission ‘to be a global network to transform agriculture into a sustainable activity’. In addition to these new work areas, SAN will continue to be part of the SAN/Rainforest Alliance certification system.

Working across 40 countries and more than 100 crops, SAN provides customized, credible and innovative agricultural solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental and social problems. To find out more about what we do visit www.sustainableagriculture.eco

SAN analyzes exceptions for the restricted use of FAO/WHO HHP pesticides

SAN analyzes exceptions for the restricted use of FAO/WHO HHP pesticides

When The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN)  published its new 2017 Sustainable Agriculture Standard in September 2016, it was accompanied with a completely updated set of SAN prohibited pesticides containing 125 active ingredients classified as Highly Hazardous Pesticides by the FAO/WHO, additional to 25 obsolete substances. These SAN lists will be binding for audits that take place on or after July 1, 2017.


During a special round of public consultation in 2015/16, stakeholders in North and South explained the challenge to eliminate at least one eighth of these 150 active ingredients on the short run. As a consequence, in September 2016 SAN issued a procedure for exceptional pesticide use and invited stakeholders to send applications for exceptional use. This reception period of applications was closed by March 31, 2017.

From a total of 69 applications received over the last six months, 75% complied with the published SAN information requirements for the potential use of 15 active ingredients in 28 countries and 35 crops.

Some of the applications include Fungicide carbendazim for the flower sector in Colombia; Nematicide ethoprophos for the pineapple sector in Costa Rica; and Herbicide glufosinate ammonium for the banana sector in the Philippines.

The SAN pesticide expert group will analyze the requests during its May meeting in Costa Rica and decide about which active ingredients may be used under strict SAN risk mitigation requirements until June 2020.

SAN will publish an updated policy by June 15, 2017 that will reflect the results of the expert group decisions.

For more information, please contact s&p@san.ag

Third place of SAN Photo Contest merges photography and agriculture into his life

Third place of SAN Photo Contest merges photography and agriculture into his life

Niraj Mani Chourasia

Niraj Mani Chourasia is the third place winner of the SAN Photo Contest. His winning photo details an ant carrying a drop of water and was taken in the certified tea estate Nonaipara, in India.

Niraj has been working in the farm for over a year and on a daily basis he is supervising plucking and other Garden operations. He is also in charge of the well-being of the rest of the workers and motivates them to follow the sustainability principles.

But above all, Niraj is as passionate as can be about sustainability and photography. The SAN talked with Niraj about his two passions:

SAN: Tell us the story behind your photo

Niraj Mani Chourasia: I am lucky to capture this mesmerizing event through my camera’s lens just after the rain. In this Garden ants and other flora and fauna can be seen because of ecological balance.

This picture indicates two different sides of a story. Firstly, it shows the importance & power of water to nurture the whole garden, and is also giving a warning by capturing the movement of the ant because of gravitational pull, indicating a two way sword kind of issue, if water conservation is not considered seriously.

Third place winner photo

It is our responsibility to hold the water, when our life is being hold by water. At this moment, it is the demand of time and we should handle the situation. The way the photo balances between both scenarios shows how any unbalance can cause casualties.

SAN: So photography means a lot to you

NMC: Yes, it is a mean for self-discovery & realization for me. I feel that I just help nature to convey the message through my photos. It has also spark some interest in identifying species of flora and fauna in the Garden.

SAN: And working in a certified farm, what do you think is the most important thing you do to achieve sustainability?

NMC: I think the most important thing about certification is being organized, disciplined, effective, more productive and responsible for what we do in a regular basis.

Certification has help us with our continual improvement and with the removal of wastage and implementation of sustainable techniques.

SAN: What is the most difficult thing for farmers throughout the process of certification and working towards sustainability?

NMC: In my opinion only lack of knowledge and insight to see the benefits of certification. It is not difficult, you just need dedication and willingness to go for it.

SAN: In your opinion, how certification has improve your farm?

NMC: Before certification, there was less awareness among the people regarding sustainability, natural conservation and the systematic approach to handle the work.

But after certification, now we have developed many standard procedure for handling any particular type of job in an effective & productive way. The training has raised the awareness among the people and has touched every single individual in my team.

You can check out some of Niraj’s photos in this gallery:

Agricultural Atlas reveals territorial organization in Brazil

Agricultural Atlas reveals territorial organization in Brazil

A collaboration between Imaflora, GeoLab of ESALQ and KTH (Royal Technology Institute in Sweden) resulted in the creation of a geo-referenced database of productive land throughout Brazil. The atlas covers the entire national territory of approximately 6.7 million polygons and, for the first time, shows publicly all public lands and those that are privately owned in the country.

The database divides land uses into 20 categories including, for example, protected natural areas of the State, INCRA settlements, and CAR (Rural Environmental Cadastre) properties, which together account for 80% of the country.

For the rest of the territory a complementary modeling was made to 1) examine the portions of land registered as private, 2) consider the limits of the rural properties surveyed by IBGE in 2006, 3) consider the size of rural properties surveyed in each municipality. The coverage of this area (20% of the territory) is essential to register unknown territories, which have been not considered in previous censuses.


The available database covers the entire national territory and is the best approach available in terms of size, location and distribution of public and private land. In addition, the Atlas is available for viewing and downloading on the “Atlas da Agropecuária Brasileira” project site.

The compilation reveals some surprises, such as the scope of small farms (less than 4 fiscal modules), where family farming is represented. Compared with the 2006 agricultural census, which remains the main reference in current studies on national agriculture, 1 million more properties were found in that category. The figures obtained approximate those of the ITR, available in the CAFIR database, indicating that with real estate growth since 2006, family farming has grown in importance with respect to real estate properties.

It also reveals that large properties occupy a similar area to the sum of all small and medium properties; and gets close to the sum of all protected areas of the country, including indigenous lands and conservation areas.

The uneven distribution of land between states is also evident. In Rio Grande do Sul 2% of the territory is public protected areas, 1% is dedicated to settlements and 89% is occupied by private property; Amazonas has 52% of its protected territory, 4% dedicated to settlements, 35% of public land and 6% of private properties.

According to Luis Fernando Guedes Pinto, from Imaflora, “in addition to the studies, the website provides additional and original information on the geography of national agriculture. In the coming months will be updated with new information, for example on land use, distribution of production and productivity of crops by season, as well as environmental and social information related to rural development and conservation of natural resources ” .

Professor Gerd Sparovek of GeoLab added that “the Atlas provides information and analysis for a better understanding of Brazilian agriculture and can serve as support for the formulation of public and private policies in the sector.”

You can consult the Atlas da Agropecuária Brasileira here.