Expertise in smallholder group certification

IMO is specialized in smallholder group certification systems. We are highly experienced in trainings both for producer groups who wish to set up or optimize their Internal Control System (ICS) and for inspectors or certification staff in how to evaluate an ICS and check the group's compliance.

IMO is active in the field of smallholder group certification in developing countries since more than 15 years and has been one of the first certifiers to develop an adapted control system for organic groups, based on the existence of a strong formal Internal Control System instead of inspection of many individual smallholder farmers each year.

In 1999 IMO and Naturland published the first Manual on Quality Assurance in Smallholder Groups, which in its second edition (2002) remains one of the most important documents on this issue.

In 2003 and 2004 IMO developed for IFOAM several new key documents on smallholder group certification, based on the results of a broad harmonization process within the organic movement. All documents can be ordered from the IFOAM download shop . IMO clients may request also a Word/Powerpoint version from their IMO office.
  • Smallholder Group Certification Guidance Manual for Producer Organisations
  • Training Curriculum for Producer Organisations in how to set up or harmonize an Internal Control System (slides, exercises, background text)
  • Training Curriculum for inspectors and certification staff in evaluation of an Internal Control System (sample ICS inspection protocol, slides, exercises, background text)
Many trainings (varying from short introductions to 6 day seminars with practical training ) have been held over the past years for ICS staff of organic producer groups as well as for inspectors from different certification bodies.

Since end 2004 IMO is further developing the group certification approach.
The Guidance Manual and training curriculums have been revised to include also the requirements of other quality standards, with special focus (as a first step) on UTZ. Currently IMO organizes for CSN different one-week training courses in ICS evaluation and development with special focus on UTZ.

In 2009 IMO developed the SIPPO training manual for improving aquaculture practices in smallholder shrimp farming.

For more information about IMO's activities in this field, contact us at

Strong worldwide network: IMO currently certifies more than 320 smallholder groups with their own Internal Control System (ICS).

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