What solutions for the certification of wild AMP picking? Prospective study within the FloreS project.
The need of transparency about quality and respect of the environment is a real issue regarding products derived from wild plants; it is required both by a majority of consumers and pickers/processors. The value of practices and products, and the customers’ confidence depend on it.
Certification tools address two major issues to picking occupations: the standardization of practices is not adapted to artisanal activities, and costs of production raise due to guarantee and control requirement.
The FloreS project has allowed the organization of a participative workshop, to analyse different types of labelling and certification that could meet the guarantees expected for wild plants’ picking. This workshop brought together researchers, certifying bodies, referent pickers and other stakeholders from the AMP sector.
Benefits and limits of third-party certification have been discussed, as well as options about participatory guarantee systems have been analysed. These element contributed to the construction of a charter for responsible professional pickers.
Workshops have clarified the limits of third-party certification, diverging on several aspects from the diversity of artisanal activities related to wild picking. Adopting a participatory guarantee system (PGS) seems more appropriate to the deontology because it encourages ethic, pedagogy and meetings. Such systems are recognized by FAO and IFOAM, and several examples already exist in France and around the world.
Testimonies have illustrated alternatives and supporting documents have been listed. PGS seduce the involved community because it relies on the adherence to a common approach and not on a penalty and exclusion system.
Nowadays, the main used certification tools are those coming from agriculture. Reflexions and adaptations should then focus on the specificity of wild picking, its diversity in terms of territories, plants, plant parts and uses.
- Organizing upstream the inspection lots could be put forward in order to avoid analysis repetitions, make available results about polluted areas that must be avoided, etc.
- Regarding several demands, it is important to focus on obligation of means and not performance obligation. It ensures capacities of adaptation to various situations, innovation and confidentiality.
- Internal structuring is necessary to set a PGS up: should it be by plant groups, by regions?
Impacts and weaknesses
Third-party certification: deterrent financial charges and workload; inadequate or misled indicators; under-representation of pickers to adapt the specification and national or international standards, that do not respond to quality criteria requested by local consumers.
Participatory guarantee system: direct participation of partners within network; peer reviewing; standards based on a charter and good practices guide. It requires a supporting structure, mutual trust and exchanges.
The French association of professional wild plants pickers (AFC) already committed in writing a charter and a good practices guide. These discussions, initially related to the necessity of a certification for products coming from wild picking, pointed out another need of a specific status for picking activities and the implementation of a brand that would provide juridical security and protection much more than a charter. A law evolution would require organized lobbying groups at European scale.