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Overview of Development of Organic Food and Farming in the CEE: Elements for a Regional Action Plan

Znaor, Darko (2001) Overview of Development of Organic Food and Farming in the CEE: Elements for a Regional Action Plan. In: DMFAF, (Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries) (Ed.) Proceedings of the “European Conference - Organic Food and Farming, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Copenhagen, pp. 137-145.

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The economic transition of the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) resulted in rather drastic changes of the agricultural sector. Food production and food consumption in CEE have declined considerably since 1989. The high prices of agri-chemicals and low prices of agricultural produce forced farmers to reduce agricultural inputs or refrain from using them altogether. This resulted in a drop of fertilisers and pesticides use by more than 50% in comparison with 1990. However, this shift was not the result of a designed agri-environmental policy, but rather the consequence of an evolution from state economy to market economy.
The current low-input farming as practised in the CEE is not necessarily environmentally friendly. The reduction of agri-chemical inputs (or refraining from using them altogether) unless complemented by better management can also degrade the environment. Therefore it is not surprising that the results of several studies point to agriculture as the biggest source of water pollution and biodiversity threat of the region. At the same time, to improve the agricultural practices seems to be the most effective strategy and the cheapest way of reducing the environmental pollution and nature degradation in the CEE.
Organic farming offers an interesting contribution in solving the environmental and economic problems of the CEE’s food and agriculture sector. Currently, organic farming has been practised at some 250.000 ha of the CEE’s farmland, with a tendency of further growth. The existing calculations from the region show that a share of as little as 10-20% of organic farming in the total agricultural production already exhibits benefits for the national economy and reduces the environmental costs/degradations of the agricultural production. However, a stronger development of organic farming in the CEE is possible only through the governmental support.
The official agricultural policy in most CEE countries aims at restoring agri-chemical inputs to the pre 1990 level. With the exception of some pioneering efforts, the CEE countries have no developed agri-environmental policy and offer relatively little support to organic farming. Ironically, the conversion subsidies for organic agriculture sometimes co-exist with the subsidies or (partial) tax relief for agri-chemicals. Majority of the CEE policy makers supports organic agriculture primarily rhetorical, while their policy and budgets rarely mirror their interest and commitment for the subject.
To enable further development of organic agriculture in the CEE it is suggested to develop a regional action plan. A mix of policy instruments (regulative, economic, informative, institutional and voluntary) should be put in place to facilitate implementation of this regional action plan. The plan should also address the tactics of involving various stakeholders, as well as the financing sources and progress monitoring mechanisms.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:Development of Organic Food and Farming; Central and Eastern Europe; CEE; Regional Action Plan for organic farming; Low-external-input agriculture; Agri-environment policy; Policies for organic farming; Organic food market; Inspection and certification; State support
Subjects:"Organics" in general
Food systems > Markets and trade
Values, standards and certification > Consumer issues
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Knowledge management
Values, standards and certification > Regulation
Research affiliation: Croatia
Deposited By: Znaor, Dr Darko
ID Code:26429
Deposited On:11 Aug 2014 14:01
Last Modified:11 Aug 2014 14:01
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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