The activity of the Agrocolor company, which is dedicated to agri-food auditing and certification, has not stopped since the beginning of the health crisis. “We've been following our contingency plan from the start. We created it before the state of alarm began. Our plan defines how our personnel must act, both in our facilities and in those of our clients,” Juan Perez, the manager of the company, stated.
Before visiting its clients, Agrocolor contacts them to find out about the protection measures they have adopted in their facilities regarding the coronavirus. Then they analyze each case, assess the risks, and decide what to do. Some of the actions that the company has taken include reprogramming the visit dates so that they are not affected by the current situation, adopting alternative evaluation methods when possible (remote visits, semi-face-to-face visits), and extending the validity of their certificates following the guidelines established by the owners of the certification schemes (GlobalGAP, IFS, QS, etc.) and the National Accreditation Entity (ENAC).
Agrocolor provides protective equipment to the personnel that visits its client farms and facilities to carry out inspections, trusting them to adapt and follow the particular guidelines that each client has set in their facilities.
According to the manager of Agrocolor, the pandemic must be approached as a global problem since it will affect everyone without exception. "The agri-food sector is essential for our society, so we think it won't be as affected as other more sensitive sectors."
Perez said the balance of the current campaign was positive: “We continue to certify because our job is essential; without these certificates, the marketing companies could not export. The problem is that we need more time to carry out the audits. We have reduced the workload on seed quality control, but new business opportunities have emerged, such as inspections to verify the removal of ornamental plants and cut flowers due to COVID-19.” This pandemic and the measures to try to stop it have also delayed company constitutions to provide certification services in third countries such as Chile, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic.
Spain has started taking steps to end the confinement but there is uncertainty about the future. "We are concerned about the next increase in cases, which will most likely take place in fall, especially if there isn't a vaccine by then because that is when we have the biggest workload,” stated Perez.