International standardsOrganic certification

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) has

produced a set of international organic standards, laid down by people from

many countries. These give guidelines about what organic farming is and how it

should be practised on the farm.


International standards are also used to help countries set their own standards,

which take into account different farming systems. Many countries have an

organic standards authority which lays down national standards and awards a

symbol to farms which have followed the standards. This symbol then allows

farmers to market certified organic produce. This is important, as it ensures

that people know that the food which they buy is organic.


The main principles of organic farming were laid down by IFOAM in 1992.


  • To produce food of high nutritional quality in sufficient quantity.
  • To interact in a constructive and life enhancing way with all natural systems

and cycles.

  • To encourage and enhance biological cycles within the farming system,

involving micro-organisms, soil flora and fauna, plants and animals.

  • To maintain and increase long term fertility of soils.
  • To use, as far as possible, renewable resources in locally organised

agricultural systems.

  • To work, as far as possible, within a closed system with regard to organic

matter and nutrient elements. This aims to reduce external inputs.

  • To work, as far as possible, with materials and substances which can be reused

or recycled, either on the farm or elsewhere.

  • To give all livestock living conditions which will allow them to perform the

basic aspects of their innate behaviour.

  • To minimise all forms of pollution that may result from agricultural practices.
  • To maintain the genetic diversity of the agricultural system and its

surroundings, including the protection of plant and wildlife habitats.

  • To allow agricultural producers a living according to the UN human rights; to

cover their basic needs and obtain an adequate return and satisfaction

from their work, including a safe working environment.

  • To consider the wider social and ecological impact of the farming system.


Organic food is becoming popular in Europe and America. However for food to

be sold as organic it must bear a symbol that proves that it is truly organic. This

is obtained through a certification organisation. This is quite a complex procedure

and is potentially expensive if there are not certification organisations in

your country.