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Myth #10
Certification is a market barrier for small farmers

Between 70 and 80 percent of all aquaculture is small-scale.[1] This means that these enterprises are “family-owned or leased, managed and operated”.[2] As aquaculture certification is increasingly becoming a de facto requirement for market access, are the costs of certification a barrier for small scale aquaculture? To answer this question, let us examine the three main costs typically associated with certification.


Audit Costs 

The first cost is the cost of an audit. This cost is based upon the estimated amount of time and activities for the certification body to conduct a rigorous and comprehensive audit. This cost is fixed, and for small-scale farmers the cost can be prohibitive. Against this background, certification schemes such as GLOBALG.A.P. offer group certification which allows small-scale producers to join together under a single management system to reduce the per farm cost of certification. The second cost is ecolabel license fees which are minimal.


Costs for Compliance

This leaves the third and final cost, the cost of compliance. To comply with certification schemes, a small-scale farmer may require additional capital investment in the form of financial and material assets as well as knowledge how to implement and monitor responsible practices. If the gap between current practice and responsible practice is too large, this can be a significant barrier and result in a disincentive for the small-scale farmer to pursue certification. GLOBALG.A.P. understands the important contribution of small-scale farming and the challenges small-scale farmers face. To assist in certification, GLOBALG.A.P. offers a bridge to help farms close this gap called localg.a.p. localg.a.p. is a stepwise approach to certification. To learn more about localg.a.p. watch this video.


Aquaculture certification schemes are based on rigorous standards, intentionally drafted to protect food safety, promote animal welfare, minimize negative environmental impacts and ensure social responsibilities such as the protection of worker rights and preservation of community interests are upheld. These standards can sometimes create thresholds which are too difficult for producers to meet. This is especially true of small-scale producers. GLOBALG.A.P. is sensitive to the need to provide small-scale farmers with additional resources to achieve certification. Group certification and localg.a.p. are two examples of how the GLOBALG.A.P. certification scheme achieves a balance by reducing costs and providing incentives to small-scale farmers while simultaneously promoting responsible aquaculture.


[1] Melba G. Bondad-Reantaso & Subasinghe, R.B., Enhancing the contribution of small-scale aquaculture to food security, poverty alleviation and socio-economic development; FAO Expert Workshop 21–24 April 2010 Hanoi, Viet Nam; FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Proceedings 31; FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS Rome, 2013 p. iv
[2] Ibid p. 44