The trust-based food system
Certification and documentation is not the only way to new way to substantiate that you are an honest player in a chain. A sustained line of quality control can also be established through trust; not as an alternative to certification but as a complementary aspect. Such a system could be highly beneficial to smallholder farmers because even though they may be able to follow basic food safety criteria, they cannot afford or be expected to have all formal required documentation in place.
This idea stems from the blockchain approach where trust is granted as long as it is lived up to. If that cycle is broken, the culprit is exiled from the chain, thus opening the way for new entrants. This approach, popularized by the Bitcoin movement, by now has evolved into a quite elaborate system of ‘self-management’ that considerably reduces dependence on the third party arbiter in the form of a rating or certification agency.
It promotes the importance of trust based on reputation rather than certification. And it allows consumers, retailers, traders, suppliers, producers and the community to take an active position. They are encouraged or provoked to guarantee their own role in the chain.