Certifications: on the outside looking in

Certifications are not our ultimate goal. They are minimum standards and embody preliminary stages towards social and environmental objectives. They cannot be considered as the optimal result. They are however a minimum control initiated and monitored by a third party and are a rough guide to an evolving path. For Veja they are a starting point to facilitate the bigger picture.

Fairtrade: a fair deal

In April 2009, ADEC, the association of cotton producers we work with, received the compliance certificate for the FLO / FAIRTRADE standards. Although sometimes criticised, The Fairtrade Foundation is the certification body that awards the famous FAIRTRADE mark to products that meet fair trade standards. To get the Fairtrade label (on cotton for Veja) all steps in the chain, from the cotton harvest in Ceará to the head office in Paris, including canvas weaving and shoe assembling must be monitored. The audit to verify adherence to the Fairtrade standards is carried out by the independent international certification agency FLO-cert. The Fairtrade certification process has carried out field investigation into the work done by Veja since its beginning.

Veja began the accreditation process 8 years ago. Attaining this certification is part of our global social and environmental project.  To find out more : www.fairtrade.org.uk

Organic farming: Nature as part of agriculture

In 2007, Veja began the organic certification process for the cotton produced by ADEC. The EU regulation Nr. 2092/91 on production and labelling of organic products is monitored in Brazil by IBD (Instituto Biodinâmico for Rural Development), the leading Brazilian organic certification body. 97% of the cotton producers we work with are now certified. This is a laborious task completed by each individual producer. Prohibited substances (synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, etc.) cannot be used on the land for three full years preceding harvest of the first organic certified crop. This is the required time for soils to discard any trace of chemical inputs. The basic rules of organic production are that biodiversity and natural cycles must be preserved and synthetic inputs prohibited.

Organic growing is preferable for the environment but also for the producers’ health. Organic farming allows producers to sell cotton at higher prices and promotes crop rotation in farming. Contrary to common practice, Veja has chosen a system where each producer holds the required certificate, thus any crop produced in his field (cotton, sesame seeds, beans, corn) is organic certified.

The coordination between Veja and the IBD team is conducted by Valderina, an agricultural engineer integrated to the Veja team and based at ESPLAR, the Northeast Brazillian NGO. To find out more : www.ibd.com.br

The Veja cotton chain complies with the organic standards but is globally involved into a more ambitious scheme: agro-ecology.


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