What is GRASP?
GRASP is an acronym for Global Risk Assessment for Social Practices and is an assessment generally carried out as part of a GLOBALG.A.P. farm or aquaculture standards inspection.
Leading standards organisation GLOBALG.A.P. has a mission to promote Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) worldwide. Their goal is safe and sustainable agricultural production to benefit farmers, processors, retailers and consumers throughout the world and sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products.
GLOBALG.A.P. has a core standard for Integrated Farm Assurance, which is modular in structure, enabling it to assure all aspects of agricultural activity. All enterprises on a farm or in a farming group can be included within an assessment and recognised on a single certificate.
In addition, GLOBALG.A.P. also offers several additional modules (Add-Ons) which can be included into the core assessment to satisfy the requirements of specific retailers or offer certification for areas of particular interest.
Recognising that people are fundamental to any good practices, GRASP was developed as one of these extra modules. It is a voluntary, ready-to-use module, developed to assess social practices on the farm, addressing specific aspects of workers’ health, safety and welfare.
Consisting of eleven standardised requirements with a specific QMS (Quality Management System) one, GRASP is designed to extend the social/ethical standards of GLOBALG.A.P. Certification.
Recognition of the completion of the GRASP assessment will help producers demonstrate compliance with both national and international labour law. Whilst GRASP assessments are not complete social audits, GRASP is focused on examining the social aspect of the producer’s management system.
Typically, the GRASP assessment will be conducted at the same time as the GAP assessment, but in the first year of certification it is possible to deliver it as a standalone assessment linked to the last GAP assessment. In subsequent years, the two assessments will be combined.
For those businesses which undertake certification through recognised GLOBALG.A.P. equivalent GAP standards - GRASP can also be applied. This is an important factor for those producers with market demands for GRASP, with national standards that have been benchmarked to the GLOBALG.A.P. equivalent standard. In the UK this includes the Red Tractor Assured Fresh Produce Standard.
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
The concept of sustainability is composed of three main pillars:
(Also known informally as profits, planet, and people!)
How do GRASP and sustainability support one another?
GRASP is primarily concerned with the Social element of sustainability, but as these three concepts are intrinsically linked, it will also have a greater or lesser effect on both Economic and Environmental aspects.
One way to try to ensure the farming business remains an attractive place of work (to what seems to be a more limited pool of workers), is to use the GRASP standards to demonstrate maintenance of sound facilities and conditions of employment.
These standards of Good Practice link directly to social sustainability and as a consequence, will help have a positive impact on the economic sustainability of farming and fishing-based businesses.
Also, any enhancements made are recognised in the GRASP assessment.
The details of the GRASP assessment are visible to stakeholders who subscribe to GRASP and are in the GRASP customer base. Such visibility ensures GRASP assessed business customers are also aware of steps to maintain and/or enhance workers experience and demonstrate greater levels of sustainability. With the General Data Protection Regulations in place, great care is taken to ensure that though the principals of worker welfare are demonstrated, no individual’s identity or details are visible to other parties.
While GRASP is a voluntary assessment as far as GLOBALG.A.P. is concerned, many retailers require suppliers to have, or commit to having, GRASP certification to supply goods to them.
To ensure assessment against the GRASP standard is appropriate to the country in which it is being conducted, a series of National Interpretation Guidelines (NIGLs) have been developed to clarify any control points and local legislation. NIGLs are formulated by a committee within the country in question, referring the assessor to appropriate legislation, collectively bargained conditions and so forth.
NIGLs are then reviewed by a sub-committee of the GLOBALG.A.P. Secretariat to confirm their content and once finalised, are published on the GLOBALG.A.P. website: https://www.globalgap.org/uk_en/.
They are valid for a three-year period, after which time the in-country committee will review the content, update where appropriate and re-submit for review and approval.
Where NIGLs are available, the regular farm assessor may be approved to conduct the assessment. It is important to consider that countries in which NIGLs are available may have a shorter way for the auditors and/or inspectors to become qualified. Where there is no NIGL in place, the assessor must become further qualified as a social and ethical auditor.
Assessments and certification are shown to make ‘Sustainability’ improvements for primary production in the food industry, in several ways:
- Positive change results from many sustainability type assessments and standards
- Environmental improvements can be measured
- Social change (with improved labour conditions)
- Know-How’ (creating a better understanding of legal requirements and improved practices)
- Producer income may increase from gaining access to a wider spectrum of markets and opportunities.
For a primary producer, GRASP should help Employee Welfare and Social Sustainability.