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Good Practice Notes on Institutional Innovations-4-Institutional Innovation to Facilitate Low-Cost Organic Certification – How Participatory Guarantee Systems (PSG) Work in Vietnam

Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) and short organic supply chains have emerged as promising solutions for smallholder farmers to provide organic produce to nearby consumers. PGS is an institutional innovation that builds trust among producers, traders and consumers through a low-cost transparent and participatory certification mech- anism. They have particularly gained a foothold among smallholder farmers in middle-income countries, where third-party certification costs are often unaffordable.

In Vietnam, PGS schemes have now been set up in more than seven provinces in Vietnam (Ha Noi, Ha Nam, Hoa Binh, Tuyen Quang, Cao Bang, Ben Tre, and Hoi An). With training and coaching by the Vietnam Organic Agriculture Association (VOAA), at least five other local governments have expressed their intention to set up organic PGS groups in their respective provinces. Nevertheless, the local organic sector in Vietnam has grown slowly in recent years. PGS-certified vegetable production in Vietnam is generally more profitable and sustainable compared to non-certified production. However, it is constrained by crop productivity challenges and requires higher returns to labour.

In this Good Practice Note, Christian Grovermann, Pham Van Hoi, Pierre Ferrand and Robert Home reflect on the les- sons learned from implementing PGS in Vietnam. They highlight the areas that need improvement in organic PGS vegetable production that can be integrated into capacity development interventions to boost the potential of PGS- certified production systems to deliver safe and sustainable produce to local markets.