Ra saas certification manual aug 09


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Ra saas certification manual aug 09

  1. 1. Certification Manual Rainforest Alliance Certified™ 1 Code: SAAS-Q-M-2-2 July 2009
  2. 2. To our readers: This manual explains the processes and requirements of Rainforest Alliance Certified™. It is meant for those of you interested in becoming certified for the first time, as well as those who are already enjoying the benefits of our certification program. 2
  3. 3. Table of Contents 1. Who are we? 8. Certified client rights 2. Auditing services 9. Responsibilities of SAAS 3. The audit process 10. Cancelation of 4. Certification cycle certification 5. Evaluation system 11. Conditions for use of the seal 6. Maintaining certification 12. Benchmarking with 4C 13. Philosophy of continuous 7. Responsibilities of the client improvement 3
  4. 4. 1. Who are we? Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) is a coalition of independent non-profit conservation organizations that promote the social and environmental sustainability of agricultural activities by developing standards. SAN fosters best practices for the agricultural value chain, provides incentives to producers to comply with the standards and encourages traders and consumers to protect sustainability. SAN is the owner of the “Sustainable Agriculture Standard” 4
  5. 5. Who are we? Rainforest Alliance (Alianza para Bosques) The Rainforest Alliance is an international NGO that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods via the transformation of land use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour. Rainforest Alliance is the owner of the “Rainforest Alliance Certified™” seal www.rainforest-alliance.org 5
  6. 6. Who are we? Sustainable Agriculture Audit Services (SAAS) SAAS is the unit in Rainforest Alliance’s Sustainable Agriculture program that organizes audits in countries that do not have SAN partners yet. SAAS is an inspection body. SAAS works according to the missions of the SAN and the Rainforest Alliance 6
  7. 7. Who are we? Sustainable Farm Certification Intl, Ltda (SFC) SFC is the certification body: it decides whether or not a producer obtains certification. It is also in charge of issuing the corresponding documentation. www.sustainablefarmcert.com 7
  8. 8. 2. Audit services The audits we conduct are based on: • Farm Certification Policy (April 2009 version) • SAN Standards for Sustainable Agriculture (April 2009 version) • SAN list of Prohibited Pesticides (April 2009 version) • For audits of farm groups: the Rainforest Alliance Certification Standards for Groups (Nov. 2004 version) • Local indicator Guidelines, if applicable 8
  9. 9. Audit services The certification covers the farm or the farms of the group. It includes the installations and all activities (even those that are not targeted in the certification). For example: if a coffee farm has cattle rearing operations, the auditor will inspect the management of this activity as well. For groups, there must be an appointed group administrator in order to be certified. We invite you to review the requirements in the Group Standard 9
  10. 10. 3. The auditing process 1) Application 2) Quotation – Billing 3) Payment 4) Preparation of the audit 5) Execution of the audit 6) Preparation of the report 10
  11. 11. Step 1: The application The process begins when the interested party fills out and submits the application form for the service*. There is a different form for each type of audit: Farm Group of farms Chain of custody The application is valid for three months from the time SAAS receives the form and it is required for the preparation of a quotation (cost proposal). Before requesting a certification audit, the producer can ask for a pre-audit to assess the farm’s compliance with the standards. This is a voluntary process and it is not a requirement when opting for certification. *The submission of the application form does not obligate the interested 11 party to carry out the process.
  12. 12. Step 2: Quotation and Billing SAAS will prepare a quotation for the audit service. This proposal is valid for 30 calendar days. There are two types of costs: 1. Audit: includes auditor honorariums and administrative and logistic costs. To reduce costs, the producer can provide lodging, transport and meals for the auditors. The cost of the audit is paid prior to its execution. 2. Annual fee: applies only in the case where the farm is certified. The annual fee is calculated: For farms: USD 7.50 per hectare in production For coffee, cocoa and tea groups: USD 5.00 per hectare in production Once the producer accepts the quotation, s/he is sent the invoice for the cost of the audit. In the event that the farm/group obtains certification, the corresponding documents are provided only when the producer has met all the financial and administrative obligations. 12
  13. 13. Step 3: Payment Payment is made via bank transfer using the following information: • Type of payment (audit, annual quota, etc.) • Invoice number • Account Name: Rainforest Alliance Bank of America, NY Account #9429166450 ABA #026009593 SWIFT Code: BOFAUS3N Tel: +1-212-819-5724 The bank voucher should be e-mailed to: servicio@ra.org or faxed to: (506) 2234-8916, ext. 158. 13
  14. 14. Step 4: Preparation of the Audit Once the client approves the quotation, SAAS will send an Audit Plan that describes the objectives, scope, logistics, methodology and the date of the audit. This plan should be approved by the producer prior to the execution of the audit. Adjustments to the Audit Plan (for example logistics, changes in the number of producers, etc.) should be communicated to and validated by SAAS and the producer. 14
  15. 15. Step4: Preparation of the Audit With the Audit Plan, SAAS will also send a Monitoring and Evaluation Form that the producer will fill out and send to Client Services at SAAS. This document is required for the auditor to prepare the audit report. See the next page about “Environmental, social and economic impact” for more details. 15
  16. 16. Environmental, Social and Economic Impact During the audit preparation process, we will ask for some specific indicators for the farm. Rainforest Alliance’s objective is to gather specific data to measure the environmental, social and economic impacts of the certification processes and sustainable management practices. The purpose of this is to aid continuous improvement, attract key stakeholders and create a competitive advantage for certified producers. 16
  17. 17. Environmental, Social and Economic Impact The Rainforest Alliance Evaluation & Research team is responsible for the analysis of the indicators, data management, report preparation (maintaining the anonymity of the participants), and the communication of the results of the investigations to the interested parties and the general public. 17
  18. 18. Step 5: Execution of the Audit The audit is conducted by SAN-approved auditors and includes the following activities: initial meeting review of the documentation gathering evidence interviews final meeting to communicate preliminary results SAAS is committed to managing and keeping all the information supplied confidential 18
  19. 19. Audit Execution The producer will make sure that administrative and field personnel are present and available so that the audit team may request interviews and meetings. Information and documentation regarding the socio-environmental management of the farm shall be made available to the audit team. 19
  20. 20. Step 6: The audit report The audit team prepares a report that details the farm or the group’s conformance with SAN standards and policies. SAAS can request additional information before presenting the final audit report, such as a corrective actions plan. The preliminary report will be sent to the producer for revision and approval. The delivery of the report normally takes 3 to 6 weeks after the audit is completed. The producer has five working days to submit comments on the audit report. If no comments are received, the report is considered approved and it is sent to the SFC Certification Committee. 20
  21. 21. Step 7: Certification Decision The SFC Certification Committee analyzes the audit report and makes a decision. SFC sends a letter with the decision via SAAS. In the event of certification, a Certification Agreement (valid for 3 years) will be sent for the producer to sign and send back to SAAS. The client may request a copy of the Certification Agreement before applying for an audit. Certification is effective as of the date the Committee makes the decision. However, products cannot be sold as certified until the Certification Agreement has been signed and the producer has met the financial and administrative obligations of the agreement. 21
  22. 22. Certification Decision If certification is not awarded, the producer can make the necessary changes on the farm and request a new audit. If the producer feels that certification was unjustifiably denied, s/he can appeal by using the corresponding form. 22
  23. 23. 4. Certification Cycle The certification cycle is 3 years. The types of audits are: Certification audit: These are conducted to determine the client’s level of compliance with the standards and applicable criteria. An audit team carries out this evaluation for the first time when a client opts for certification and prior to renewal of the certification agreement every three years. Annual audit: The annual audit is conducted for the next two years after certification is obtained. The objective is to verify and monitor the farm or group’s compliance with SAN regulatory documents and the execution of corrective actions. 23
  24. 24. Other types of audits SAAS can also carry out the following types of audits: Verification audit: Its objective is to verify whether a corrective actions plan, presented by a farm or group in response to non conformities identified in earlier audits, has been implemented. Research audit: SAAS plans and conducts this process in response to a formal complaint by a third party regarding apparent non-compliance of a Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farm or group. 24
  25. 25. Other types of audits Quality audit: SAAS plans and conducts this process in coordination with SFC to monitor compliance with the Certification Agreement and the proper use of the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal. Non-programmed or follow-up audit: SAAS plans and conducts this process as an action for follow- up on the good performance of the socio- environmental management system. The client is not advised in advance of the process and its costs are covered by SAAS. 25
  26. 26. 5. Evaluation System To obtain Rainforest Alliance Certified™ certification a farm must: Be evaluated through a certification audit Comply with the SAN scoring system and compliance requirements Sign the Certification Agreement Pay for the cost of certification and annual fee The Scoring System at the farm level includes: Compliance with at least 80% of all the applicable criteria Compliance with at least 50% of the criteria for each principle Not having nonconformities with critical criteria The Farm Certification Policy document should be consulted for details of the current requirements. 26
  27. 27. Evaluation System The Scoring System used by SAN defines findings as different types of nonconformities with the criteria as follows: • Major nonconformity (MNC): indicates compliance for a criterion between 0% and 49%. • Minor nonconformity (mnc): indicates compliance for a criterion between 50% and 99%. • A critical criterion is one that requires full compliance for the farm to be certified or to maintain its certification. 27
  28. 28. 6. Maintaining certification This is achieved through verification in the annual audits and continuous improvement in the non-conformities detected. The producer must make sure that annual audits are carried out at least one month before the expiration date of the certificate. Not executing the annual audits on time leads to cancellation of the certification. 28
  29. 29. Maintaining certification Awarded certifications are not given extensions except when a situation outside of our control (force majeure) occurs that impedes the realization of the audit (e.g. a natural disaster, labor strike). In this case the producer should request an extension from SAAS, which will then send the request to the Certification Committee. The certification cannot be transferred to another farm or group. The farm or group maintains the certification in case there is a change of owner. 29
  30. 30. 7. Responsibilities of the Producer In the audit and certification process, the producer has the following responsibilities: Become familiar with this manual, the SAN standards that apply to the farm or group of farms and the policies in effect. Comply with the financial obligations of the agreement for the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ audit and certification services. State and communicate to SAAS any change in the farm information, the scope of the certification or modifications that affect compliance with the standards. 30
  31. 31. Responsibilities of the Producer Notify SAAS in writing within 10 days of any claim, complaint, lawsuit, or legal case that questions the good performance of the socio-environmental management system. Comply with the requirements for the use of the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal, which must be approved by SFC. Contact: certification@ra.org Tel: (506) 2234-8916. 31
  32. 32. 8. Rights of the Certified Client Once a farm has satisfactorily concluded the audit and certification process, it merits the following privileges: Its products will be recognized by the market as differentiated due to its good socio-environmental performance and responsibility. Use of the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal in all its promotion and commercialization activities for products from the certified farm or group of farms. Seal use must be approved in advance by the SFC. 32
  33. 33. Rights of the Certified Client Receive up-to-date information about changes made to the SAN standards and the audit and certification process. Participate in workshops and training sessions for enrichment, feedback and public consultation offered by SAAS, the Rainforest Alliance and the SAN Secretariat. Can submit complaints or claims regarding the service received. Use our online portal Market Place to communicate about the certified products. 33
  34. 34. 9. Responsibilities of SAAS To support producers of certified farms, the SAAS team has the following responsibilities: Provide the certified client with up-to-date information and material about changes made to the SAN standards and policies and the audit and certification process. Expand recognition of the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal in global markets. Create opportunities for analysis and discussion to update and gain feedback on topics related to the SAN standards and the audit and certification process. Establish mechanisms that ensure objectivity and transparency in the audit process. 34
  35. 35. 10. Cancellation of Certification Certification is cancelled*: On the expiration date of the certificate if a new audit has not been executed. If the client requests cancellation voluntarily. When there is objective evidence of non-compliance with the terms of the Certification Agreement, made known to SAAS via a formal complaint from a third party. The evidence is validated in a Research Audit. If there is improper use of the seal (fraud, deceit, or wrongful representation of the certification status of the farm or its products). When the farm or group of farms do not comply with the requirements established in the Farm Certification Policy. 35 *Cancellation of Rainforest Alliance Certified™ certification is the exclusive responsibility of the certification body: Sustainable Farm Certification (SFC)
  36. 36. 11. Conditions for Use of the Seal The Rainforest Alliance Certified™ certification seal is a registered trademark of the Rainforest Alliance. The user cannot use, adopt, register or intend to register the certification seal. The producer can request the requirements for use of the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal at certification@ra.org * * Approval for the use of the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal is the responsibility of the certification body SFC 36
  37. 37. 12. Benchmarking with 4C To reduce the burden for coffee producers the Rainforest Alliance and the 4C Association have entered into collaboration through a benchmarking process. Benchmarking means evaluating the equivalence of two standards and systems, and this first benchmarking in the coffee market has resulted in full equivalence. Since the 4C Code of Conduct is a baseline, the benchmarking with the SAN standards is not reciprocal. This means that producers that are Rainforest Alliance Certified may apply for a 4C License without additional costs. For the details, please visit: http://www.4c-coffeeassociation.org/en/benchmarking.htm 37
  38. 38. 13. Philosophy of Continuous Improvement At SAAS we are committed to continuous improvement of the audit process for sustainable agriculture. We use internal evaluation tools and promote feedback through suggestions from producers, which allow us to gauge our performance and analyze and identify opportunities for improvement. 38
  39. 39. Sustainable Agriculture Audit Services (SAAS) Attention: Adelaide Webster E-mail: awebster@ra.org Telephone: (506) 2234-8916 Fax: (506) 2234-8916 ext. 158/159 P.O. Box 11029 1000, San José, Costa Rica Web: www.rainforest-alliance.org 39