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Good Agricultural Practices (GAP):: Introduction

A multiplicity of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) codes, standards and regulations have been developed in recent years by the food industry and producers organizations but also governments and NGOs, aiming to codify agricultural practices at farm level for a range of commodities. Their purpose varies from fulfilment of trade and government regulatory requirements (in particular with regard to food safety and quality), to more specific requirements of specialty or niche markets.
Good Agricultural Practices are "practices that address environmental, economic and social sustainability for on-farm processes, and result in safe and quality food and non-food agricultural products" (FAO COAG 2003 GAP paper)
These four 'pillars' of GAP (economic viability, environmental sustainability, social acceptability and food safety and quality) are included in most private and public sector standards, but the scope which they actually cover varies widely.
The concept of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) has evolved in recent years in the context of a rapidly changing and globalizing food economy and as a result of the concerns and commitments of a wide range of stakeholders about food production and security, food safety and quality, and the environmental sustainability of agriculture. GAP applies recommendations and available knowledge to addressing environmental, economic and social sustainability for on-farm production and post-production processes resulting in safe and healthy food and non-food agricultural products. A broadly accepted approach using GAP principles, generic indicators and practices will help guide debate on national policies and actions and on the preparation of strategies to ensure that all stakeholders participate in and benefit from the application of GAP in the food chain. The implementation of GAP should therefore contribute to Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD).

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