After almost a year of trying, Boyolali rice farmers have finally got organic certification. The organic certificate for members of Asosiasi Petani Padi Organik Boyolali (Appoli) was issued by the Institute of Marketecology (IMO), a certification agency headquartered in Switzerland. The certificate is valid from 13 December 2012 to 31 March 2013.
“We are proud to have finally got organic certification for our products,” said Appoli chair Susatyo. Susatyo explained that the IMO organic certificate will help Appoli members to market their rice. Even though their products are organic, up until now, the farmers have not been able to label their products organic because they have not had official certification. Now they will be able to put the number and logo of the certification agency on their rice packaging.
“We are sure that it will be easier to sell our products now that we have organic certification,” Satyo added.
Appoli began the process to obtain organic certification a year ago, said Satyo. They received national certification (SNI) in September 2012, and three months later, they got certification from IMO.
The process began with registering with the certification agency. Then, when Appoli was ready, the agency conducted an inspection. They inspected only the locations registered, which covered an area of 59 hectares owned by 260 farmers who are Appoli members.
The results of the inspection were then confirmed with Appoli. The inspection highlighted several minor and major weaknesses, Satyo added. The minor weaknesses included, for example, differences in the farmers’ signatures on the documents, which happened because some of the farmers are unable to sign their own names.
One of the major weaknesses was that the water channels had no filters, which meant there was a possibility of the water mixing with inorganic matter . “After receiving confirmation from the certification agency, we addressed the issues they identified, and then informed them of what we had done,” said Satyo.
After going through all these processes, the Appoli farmers received organic certification from IMO. With this certificate in hand, Appoli is now getting ready to export its rice overseas. Previously, most of the rice produced by Appoli farmers had been sold in Indonesia, to customers in Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, Solo, and other locations.
“In 2013, we plan to register 2 or 3 more farmer groups for organic certification,” said Satyo. Appoli is a VECO Indonesia partner. This support focuses on strengthening this farmer organisation, which has 1,027 members, to become a business organisation. Appoli also applies Internal Control System (ICS) as a method of controlling the quality of the products its farmers produce.