About Taiwan's Tea Organic Certification
The organic certification mechanism of Taiwanese tea is a two-track system. The two-track system includes the "government agricultural committee" (GAC) and "private, professional organizations" (PPOs). GAC entrusts inspection and certification matters to the PPOs.
These PPOs include some universities in Taiwan and other professional certification institution. They accept the commission and supervision of the GAC to implement the organic certification of the tea industry. Therefore, two layers of agencies are supervising the tea farmers, including the monitoring of the GAC and PPOs, that is, "double supervision." The advantage of "double supervision" is to avoid that after the tea farmers and the PPOs familiar with each other, the PPOs certification person may deregulate due to personal relationships.
The process of applying for Taiwan tea organic certification is no easy. It includes the following procedures:
1. The application period: The PPC person will check whether the tea garden has heavy metals, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and herbicide residues. Also, they will check whether there are clean water sources that are not polluted. This process may be as short as one year, and also may be more than ten years, depending on the organic quality of the tea garden. If the tea garden is an unspoiled original woodland, the application period may take only one year. However, the tea garden may be contaminated in the past (by heavy metals, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or herbicides). Then the tea garden must wait for these harmful substances to decline until the amount of hazardous material come to zero. Under this situation, it may take more than ten years.
2. The transition period: After the application period passed, it will enter into the transition period. During the transition period, the GAC and the PPOs will check the soil quality many times to see if there is continued compliance with the organic standard. This process takes about three years. Within three years, the two-supervised organization will randomly inspect the tea garden for many times. If the tea garden always meets the organic standard, then this tea garden will be issued with organic certification.
3. The organic certification period: After obtaining the organic certification, the dual-supervised units will still conduct random inspections every year. To ensure that the tea farmers have strict compliance with the organic standard. Moreover, the personnel of the GAC and PPOs will be rotated every three years and will be responsible for the Tea garden in different regions. This design is to prevent the tea farmers from being familiar with the inspectors of GAC and PPOs, and then the inspectors will relax their supervision.