One of the main tenets of Enecta Farm is to run our supply chain in a way that makes it transparent, safe, and, most importantly, it makes it easy for our partners and customers to understand what kind of certifications we obtained.
One of such certifications is the GACP, aka Good Cultivation and Harvesting Practices for Medicinal Plants.
Considering how much we brag (well, in a good way) about following the GACP certification guidelines (because it took quite an effort to obtain it), we thought it was about time we explain what exactly these guidelines are, and what GACP is, as a whole.
But, the fact is, GACP is not just vital for your hemp cultivation, it is crucial for your CBD products, as seeds and strain quality is instrumental in delivering safe and high-quality CBD extracts, like ours.
The guidelines apply to the cultivation, wild collection and primary processing practices of all such plants and their derivatives traded and used in the European Union.
What is GACP certification?
It’s basically a quality assurance system that enables both manufacturers, resellers, and final customers to be on the same page when it comes to quality standards.
Is GACP mandatory?
Yes if you want your company to qualify as a supplier in the pharmaceutical industry and similia.
Why should you become GACP-certified?
Because it is crucial to offer transparency about your supply chain and, on top of that, to provide objective and assessable criteria for safe production.
Let’s break down Good Agricultural and Collection Practices guidelines in digestible bits:
1. SOPs, Standard Operating Procedures
These involve the documenting of all procedures, from cultivation, to collection and storage. All contracts, specifications, reports, are clearly documented and stored in an archive.
SOPs have to be written down by qualified staff, in case of a change of documentation, a new version needs to be created.
2. PERSONNEL & EDUCATION
To qualify for the Good Agricultural and Collection Practices certification, all personnel should be well-trained, failing that, training should be provided by the company. More to the point, hygiene responsibilities and botanical training are the main areas on which to focus, especially regarding cultivation techniques.
Staff members dealing with any form of skin inflammation, or infection, should refrain from working on fields as long as said wounds/inflammations heal.
Here is a brief list of training topics:
- Hygiene of both personnel and buildings and facilities
- Procedures of cultivation and collection
- Quality control and sampling
All buildings involved in the processing of plant material should be clean, ventilated and they should never house livestock. Suitable pest control should be carried out, as well as making sure that the facilities offer adequate protection for the harvested medicinal plants/herbal substances against birds, insects, and other animals.
It goes without saying that if you want to obtain the GACP certification, all equipment, especially that in direct contact with the harvested material, should also be cleaned after use, to avoid cross-contamination. Thorough maintenance should be carried out regularly.
This includes oiling and recalibration for all machinery dedicated to fertilizer application. All equipment should be manufactured with appropriate materials, so to avoid any cross-contamination with chemicals and other undesired substances.
Manufacturers have to take adequate measures to avoid contamination at any time, including: glass, metal, stone, fuel, oils, lubricants, chemicals. Personal hygiene and personal care are vital too.
Facilities should have never been used for hazardous material storage, nor having housed any livestock.
All equipment used on fields or within facilities, no matter the production stage, should be thoroughly taken care of to avoid contamination.
Packaging should always be checked to ensure that it is free of any contamination and stored in a clean and dry place, safe from pests and unreachable from pets and livestock.
6. BATCH IDENTIFICATION AND TRACEABILITY
it is essential for every amount of harvested material to be traced back unambiguously to the primary producer and to the lot of land where it was cultivated and harvested. This can be done via the batch number (ID), a unique number assigned to each homogeneous quantity of material along the production chain. A production lot must represent a single lot of land, a single plant variety that has been grown and processed under the same condition, in the same place.
These conditions are mandatory in order to guarantee lot homogeneity.
7. WILD COLLECTION
All those involved in the harvesting of wild plants must ensure that they avoid damage to existing wildlife habitat. More to the point, it is important to avoid damaging or removing more parts of the plants than needed. Harvester must avoid:
a) Extinction of particular species in certain zones or certain rare genetic populations due to over-exploitation.
b) Destruction of the entire plant, due to carelessness and inexperience on behalf of the harvester, when in most cases it would be sufficient to harvest only a part of it.
c) Confusion (due to ignorance or bad faith) in the harvesting of different species that are at first sight similar.
d) Collection of endangered species, according to local regulation. For plant intended for export from the country of collecting the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) certificate must be obtained.
8. SEEDS AND PROPAGATION MATERIALS
Seeds should originate from plants that have been accurately identified in terms of genus, species, variety/cultivar/chemotype and origin. All starting material should be as free as possible from pests, diseases or any other contaminant to avoid damaging future crops.
Standardized cultivation practices and inputs guarantee a high and consistent quality of the products, for both resellers and final customers.
Soil and fertilization:
Medicinal plants should not be grown in soil contaminated with sludge, heavy metals, residues, plant protection products or other chemicals etc. Any chemicals used in the growth or protection of the crop should be kept to a minimum. All fertilizing agents should be applied sparingly and in accordance with the needs of the particular species. Fertilizers should be applied in such a manner as to minimize leaching.
10. COLLECTION AND HARVESTING
Medicinal plants/herbal substances should be harvested when they are at the best possible quality for the proposed use. Damaged and perished plant parts should be promptly eliminated. Any pest control adopted by manufacturers should be documented.
Collection must be carried out in compliance with existing regional and national and/or national species conservation legislation. Collection methods must not damage the growth environment ensuring optimum conditions for regeneration of the medicinal plant/herbal substance harvested.
11. PRIMARY PROCESSING AND PACKAGING
Such as washing, cutting before drying, fumigation, freezing, distillation,drying, etc. Where applicable, all of these processes must conform to regional and/or national regulations in order to qualify for GACP certification. Once harvesting is complete, processing should ensue as soon as possible. As per packaging, bags and containers must be clean, and the label must be clear, permanently fixed and made from non-toxic material.
12. STORAGE AND DISTRIBUTION
Packaged materials should be stored in a dry, clean and ventilated facility, in which daily temperature fluctuations are limited and good aeration is ensured, that is free of pets and off-limits to livestock and domestic animals. The same criteria applies to transportation.
Samples of material can be taken or provided for testing, analysis, inspection, investigation, demonstration, retention or trial use.
They are instrumental for verifying, for example, the quality and safety of the material coming into or leaving the site of production.
Moreover, samples are an essential part of any business relationship along the supply chain as well as of the traceability system.
All processing steps have to be documented, including the geographic location of cultivation.
That’s it. You managed to read all the steps you need to ensure in order to cultivate and manufacture in accordance with Good Agricultural and Collection Practices guidelines.
We cannot stress this enough, but standardization and compliance with international standards is instrumental in making the hemp industry safer, transparent and thus more appealing to consumers.