GREMCA Achieves the First Food Security Standard Certification Under ISCC

GREMCA Agricultura y Energía Sostenible S.A. achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first Food Security Standard (FSS) certified company. They completed this under the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification’s (ISCC) EU and PLUS schemes using the Food Security Add-on.

This FSS certification underscores the Colombian palm oil company’s dedication to addressing food security concerns and ensuring its products are socially and environmentally sustainable.

„GREMCA SA demonstrated their dedication to fulfilling the human right to food for its workforce and safeguarding food security in the neighboring communities,“ said Senior Project Manager Katia Masias Bröcker.

„It implemented various compliance measures by providing food security and nutrition training to its workers along with the development of a robust food security policy.“

While GREMCA already displayed a strong commitment to initiatives that facilitated their compliance with numerous FSS requirements—including multiple company vegetable gardens for workers, a canteen, drinking water facilities, sanitary facilities and more—the company was proactive in implementing additional requirements like involving stakeholders to better understand the food security risks in the company’s area of ​​influence.

„The company wants this certification […] because it has been working on social aspects for more than 30 years,“ said Oscar Cifuentes Vagas, GREMCA’s General Manager.

„The company makes important contributions in the areas of health, education and infrastructure, and this methodology clearly allows us to strengthen the social work of the organization in the communities and in the areas of influence where the company is present today.“

Agricultural workers play a critical role in everything from the food we eat to ingredients for the products we use. However, they are often at high risk for hunger and malnutrition.

The FSS is one tool to address the multifaceted causes of hunger. It can help agricultural companies develop and maintain sustainable practices and support them in applying due diligence obligations. When used as an add-on to existing certification standards, the FSS can help enhance these schemes by promoting additional capacity building on the local level. Additionally, it can further strengthen the entire supply chain’s social sustainability by holistically assessing and reducing food security risks.

GREMCA’s FSS certification under ISCC EU and PLUS helped the company create stronger social sustainability practices by improving conditions for its workers and nearby communities. This integration further enables transparency in GREMCA’s supply chain and can help consumers have confidence in supporting a company that works towards sustainability, ethical practices and the well-being of those within its operations.

„The FSS certification allows us to improve the working conditions of our employees every day, promote healthy working environments and strengthen social practices that promote and lead to the fulfillment of national policies and strategies for the elimination of hunger and poverty reduction in our employees and our areas of influence,“ said Ana Lucia Avila Sarmiento, Managing Director of GREMCA.

Certification body Control Union SAS conducted the audit in El Copey, Cesar, Colombia, in May 2023. The official certification was awarded during ISCC’s 15th Regional Stakeholder Meeting – Latin America in August 2023.

The FSS is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and actively managed by the Welthungerhilfe (WHH) and Meo Carbon Solutions.

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“HORTICERT” PROJECT: DEVELOPING AN INTERNATIONAL CERTIFICATION SYSTEM FOR PEAT SUBSTITUTES

Meo Carbon Solutions has been working on the development and implementation of an international certification system for sustainable and climate-friendly peat substitutes, HORTICERT, for the past two years. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) based on a decision by the Federal German Parliament. Within the framework of a multi-stakeholder process and under the leadership of the Agency for Renewable Resources (Fachagentur für Nachwachsende Rohstoffe eV, FNR), MCS is now entering the project’s final phase.

After developing, pilot testing, and optimizing the certification concept, Meo will transition HORTICERT into regular operation in the last project phase (end of 2023 to end of 2025). The transition into regular operation includes issuing first certificates, implementing a quality management and integrity program, and obtaining an official recognition and accreditation of the system. Furthermore, communication strategies and digital solutions for conducting audits will be developed during this phase.

HORTICERT will offer certification of peat substitutes along the entire value chain —from the extraction of raw materials to the production of the final substrate. Companies ranging from independent smallholder farms to processing and mixing plants, as well as traders, can apply for certification. HORTICERT will ensure that the peat substitutes used in peat-free and peat-reduced growing media have been produced in an ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable way.

Under HORTICERT, greenhouse gas emissions are calculated according to a uniform methodology, revealing greenhouse gas savings of peat-free and peat-reduced growing media compared to conventional, peat-containing products.

Additionally, the integrated HORTI-TRACE system enables digital traceability of international supply chains of peat substitutes.

While HORTICERT will initially offer certifications for peat substitutes such as green waste compost, wood fibers, bark humus, and coconut-based products, further criteria will be developed to cover all peat substitutes in the future.

You can learn more about the certification system on HORTICERT’s website: horticert.org.