PGS groups overcome livelihood challenges during pandemic

Pashang PGS members take a pledge during their enrolment last year

Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) groups are internationally applicable organic quality assurance systems, which are implemented and controlled by several committed organic farmers-producers through active participation, along with the consumers, in the process based on verifiable trust.

To help strengthen the practice of traditional and chemical-free farming, NESFAS helped to set up several PGS groups in many communities since 2019. A farmer who is part of the group has to pledge that the production process is free from manufactured chemicals fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, hormones, and lives by his word of honor. The “Local Group” of five or more organic farmers is the basis of the self-regulatory support system of PGS. The quality assurance standards are harmonized by the PGS Organic Council of India, which permits the use of its PGS label on a product as a mark of quality.

Several PGS groups from across the state (associated with NESFAS) due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic have come up with several innovative coping mechanisms to deal with the situation.

The Garo Hills PGS groups have advocated the need for diverse kitchen gardens amongst several PGS members and all community members. The Garo Hills PGS groups have advocated the need for multiple kitchen gardens among PGS groups and communities. They have emphasized on clean, local and nutrient-rich food for good immunity in our fight against the COVID-19 virus. (Click here to read)

On the other hand, PGS groups from Nongtraw distributed 100 millet saplings and seeds to 13 households from Mawpynthymmai village under Mawkynrew block in April to help revive millet cultivation in the area.

In Jaintia Hills, the Society for Urban and Rural Empowerment (SURE) has bridged the gap between PGS farmers and consumers with a local online platform ‘Syllad’ used to sell vegetables online. This partnership also helped deliver the goods to the homes of the community members in Jowai and other rural areas near Jowai. (Click here to go to store)

Four PGS groups from Mawhiang village under the Mawsynram C&RD Block of East Khasi Hills District have recently launched the ‘Farm On Wheels’ (FOW) initiative. The farmer groups can sell their produce directly to the consumers and at the same time, create sustainable livelihood opportunities for them as well. (Click here to read)

About the Lauding initiative launched last month, there are 24 more PGS groups from across East Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi, and West Garo Hills who have agreed to commence the FOW initiative soon. NESFAS Senior Associate Janak Jassal said, “Now the number of groups who have agreed to implement the initiative is known. However, we are very confident that this number will increase.”

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