Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) is a low-cost quality assurance mechanism that guarantees the quality of agricultural products and has the potential to regain consumers’ trust. Implemented in 66 countries worldwide, it has been used in Vietnam for over 10 years. As part of the project “Capitalisation of Participatory Guarantee System experiences in Vietnam for upscaling & institutionalisation”, funded by the Agroecology Learning Alliance in Southeast Asia, Vietnam National University of Agriculture and Rikolto investigated all the existing PGS in Vietnam to assess their strengths and weaknesses and come up with recommendations on how to improve PGS in the Vietnamese context.
Over the 10 years of PGS’ existence in Vietnam, many great successes have been achieved. However, the purpose of this case study is not to dwell on those successes but to look at the various challenges that can prevent the effective operations of PGS and how to address them. Because most success stories are often preceded by failure, we must analyse the reasons why some PGS have struggled in the past in order to draw lessons and create the conditions for future success. The case study below looks at one PGS in particular which has struggled with sustainability and operational effectiveness.
The PGS mentioned in this study was launched in 2011 and received over the years the support of various national and international NGOs. It is located in a mountainous province, about 100 km outside of Hanoi. Most farmers in the PGS belong to ethnic minority groups and rely heavily on agriculture as their main source of income. Seven years after the launch of PGS in the commune, the system is at a standstill, no longer able to provide support and certify farmers.