However, a report released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) finds that current certification schemes might exclude small farmers from achieving certification because they are mainly designed for large-scale agro-businesses. The schemes are also voluntary and for the most part are privately-operated, requiring costs and capacities that many smallholders lack.
The schemes can also hinder trade and reduce access to markets for developing countries in particular, the report says. For example, while it is easy for producers in industrialised countries to comply with the demand to provide education opportunities to employed farmers, it could be much more difficult for small-scale producers in developing countries.
Similarly, big companies keep financial records needed for audits while smallholders tend to keep information needed for estimations of greenhouse gas emissions in their head. As a result, many smallholders are not able to obtain certifications.
"Many developing countries express concern that certification schemes can become indirect trade barriers when not managed properly," the report said.