NEPCon is taking over the direct management of our Rainforest Alliance certification services in Guatemala and Honduras. This is in addition to the clients and audits we already manage across agriculture, forestry and tourism programmes in Central America through our locally registered offices and staff.
NEPCon is a non-profit organisation working to promote responsible practices in landscapes and supply chains for more sustainable livelihoods and a healthier environment and climate. We are also a certification body approved by the Rainforest Alliance (RA) to offer certification services against the Sustainable Agriculture Standards (RA-SAS) for Farm, Group and Chain of Custody in Central America, and globally across more than 65 countries.
Over our history, we have invested in a service delivery model to provide certification activities through locally registered NEPCon entities with regional staff that are directly part of NEPCon. When NEPCon acquired the RA-Cert unit from Rainforest Alliance, we continued audit delivery through local inspection bodies RA-Cert had established in some countries, while NEPCon remained responsible for certification decisions, agreements with clients and issuance of certificates in the Rainforest Alliance programme.
In Central America, NEPCon has local legal entities in Guatemala and Costa Rica. These subsidiaries manage NEPCon service delivery to clients in the region. In line with our service delivery model, effective on 30 August 2019 our subcontracting agreements with the inspection bodies, FIIT in Guatemala and ICADE in Honduras, will end.
Beginning 1 September 2019 NEPCon will continue as a Rainforest Alliance approved certifier. We will manage the entire certification process including coordination of field audits for our RA-SAS clients in Guatemala and Honduras.
It is important to highlight to all certificate holders in Central America, including Guatemala and Honduras, that this decision will not affect the scope or validity of their current RA-SAS certificate with NEPCon. Please see the following Frequently asked Questions (FAQ) for more information.
Q1: Will there be any change to my RA certificate and/or certification period issued by NEPCon?
A1: No. Client certificates are already issued by NEPCon and will keep the same scope and validity period following normal RA requirements.
Q2: Will there be any change to the certification agreement I have with NEPCon?
A2: No, there are no changes to your current agreement for your current certification period as long as your certificate is issued by NEPCon.
Q3: How will this change impact my currently pending audit process (for clients with pending activities or scheduled fieldwork for August)?
A3: Any audit fieldwork conducted with FIIT or ICADE up until the end of August will be finalised following current steps with draft audit reports being delivered to NEPCon for finalisation. NEPCon will deliver audit reports that are finalised after August directly to the clients. Effective 16 August, all new audit initiation using the RA tool will become the direct responsibility of NEPCon and audit forward will be coordinated by the NEPCon team working directly with the client.
Q4: Will there be any change to my next audit? Will I have the same auditor?
A4: NEPCon will directly manage all audits scheduled for September onwards and will follow normal RA requirements for fieldwork timelines. NEPCon auditors will be individuals who are already approved RA auditors and we are already working with in the region. These may or may not be auditors that have been to your operation in the past.
Q5: Who will my contact person be in the future? Will this person be knowledgeable about the RA standard?
A5: Ana Lucía Corrales (firstname.lastname@example.org) is our Agriculture Senior Manager based in Costa Rica. She is a lead auditor and has been managing our agriculture work in the region since 2002. Ana Lucía is our primary contact for agriculture services. Adolfo Lemus is our Regional Director for Mesoamerica overseeing all NEPCon activities.
Q6: How is NEPCon established in Central America?
A6: Currently NEPCon has two locally registered subsidiaries, in Guatemala and Costa Rica. We have 10 staff in the region with two more joining soon, and a network of approved auditors.
Q7: Why is this change happening?
A7: NEPCon’s service delivery is founded on establishment of local legal entities with management of our regional activities through NEPCon staff. With our two offices in Central America we are moving forward with direct management of all our services and activities in the region.
Q8: What will happen to the inspection bodies (FIIT/ICADE)?
A8: FIIT and ICADE have shared their plans to continue to provide their services with the support of NaturaCert, a Colombian certification body approved by Rainforest Alliance.
Q9: Can I continue my certification with FIIT or ICADE?
A9: Certificate holders have the option to request transfer of their certificate to another certification body. In the case of FIIT and ICADE working as inspection bodies, the applicable certification body is NaturaCert. Normal RA requirements will apply for when certificate transfers can take place.
Following is a link to the RA policy document where section 14 provides requirements for the “transfer of certificates”: https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/business/resource-item/accreditatio…;
Q10: What are NEPCon’s plans with SalvaNATURA who is managing agriculture audits in El Salvador?
A10: NEPCon and SalvaNATURA have signed a letter of intent to explore options for integrating. SalvaNATURA continues to coordinate the RA-SAS audit schedule and works directly with clients in El Salvador on behalf of NEPCon as the approved certification body for Rainforest Alliance.