Hard to believe that it has already been a month since our last update from Costa Rica! Only 4 weeks but so much to tell. We are very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit many different parts of the country in that time. So far we have seen majestic beaches and isolated pristine waterfalls in the tropical forest surrounded by lush vegetation. We have spotted monkeys, sloths, toucans, dolphins, whales and more! We also hiked in some beautiful mountains surrounded by scenic coffee plantations and have visited several organic Agro-Forestry farms.

Make no mistake, however, we are also here to do some work! J In the past few weeks, we started elaborating our workplans and our tasks have become clearer. As the Forestry Communication and Research Assistant, I am helping to build content for the organization’s social media, newsletter and website. I am also starting a research project on participatory guarantee systems (PGS) which will lead me to do field work to visit organic farms around San Jose.

What is PGS you ask? They are essentially systems to guarantee the quality of products issued from organic farms that are both participative and inclusive. These systems are based on trust, social networks, transparency and the exchange of knowledge between producers and stakeholders. It is a very interesting alternative tool for smaller scale producers to gain access to more direct and local markets because, unlike conventional organic certification systems, they do not involve a third party, which can be prohibitively expensive. The International Analog Forestry Network (IAFN) is interested in developing such a system to certify products issued from Analog Forestry (AF) sites. It is my hope that my work will enable our partners to know more about how to develop and operate PGS. At the present moment, AF’s products can only be certified under the Forest Garden Product (FGP) system.

We continue to meet wonderful, inspiring and passionate people and learn everyday about the country and the culture here. Our internship at the IAFN is teaching us so much about Analog Forestry and the many issues related to conservation, reforestation and organic agriculture.

Pura vida!

Anne-Marie Dufour

For more information about PGS and the FGP accreditation, follow these links:

http://www.ifoam.org/en/value-chain/participatory-guarantee-systems-pgs

http://www.analogforestrynetwork.org/en/accreditation.php
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