The term Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) can refer to any collection of specific methods, which when applied to agriculture, produce results that are in harmony with the values of the proponents of those practices.
Good Agricultural Practices are a collection of principles to apply for on-farm production and post-production processes, resulting in safe and healthy food and non-food agricultural products, while taking into account economical, social and environmental sustainability.
GAPs may be applied to a wide range of farming systems and at different scales. They are applied through sustainable agricultural methods, such as integrated pest management, integrated fertilizer management and conservation agriculture. They rely on four principles:
- - Economically and efficiently produce sufficient (food security), safe (food safety) and nutritious food (food quality).
- Sustain and enhance natural resources.
- Maintain viable farming enterprises and contribute to sustainable livelihoods.
- Meet cultural and social demands of society.
The concept of GAPs has changed in recent years because of a rapidly changing agriculture, globalization of world trade, food crisis (mad cow disease), nitrate pollution of water, appearance of pesticide resistance, soil erosion...
GAPs applications are being developed by governments, NGOs and private sector to meet farmers and transformers needs and specific requirements. However, many think these applications are only rarely made in a holistic or coordinated way.
They provide the opportunity to assess and decide on which farming practices to follow at each step in the production process. For each agricultural production system, they aim at allowing a comprehensive management strategy, providing for the capability for tactical adjustments in response to changes. The implementation of such a management strategy requires knowing, understanding, planning, measuring, monitoring, and record-keeping at each step of the production process. Adoption of GAPs may result in higher production, transformation and marketing costs, hence finally higher costs for the consumer. To minimize production costs and maintain the quality of agri-food, ACIAR offers a series of advisable online publications to benefit farmers
GAPs require maintaining a common database on integrated production techniques for each of the major agro-ecological area, thus to collect, analyze and disseminate information of good practices in relevant geographical contexts.
In order to determine the risk level of imported products in respect to their Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) it is necessary to apply for phytosanitary certificates for regulated products such as plants, seeds, fruits and vegetables, and cut flowers to ensure that the level of risk coming from pesticides is not exceeded.