The first Slovenian Organic Farmers’ Association (SOFA) was established in 1997, although organic farms were already operating before. Standards for organic production/processing were prepared by ISD in May 1996 and to date have been adopted by six organic farmer associations.
The first Slovenian programme for control and certification of organic farms developed by SOFA was for the first time available in 1998. Under this programme, 22 farms were certified and 13 more were certified by ABG (Austria). In 1999 over 300 farms applied for certification, which is done by a newly established Slovenian certification body (special unit for control of organic production at the Mb Institute of Agriculture). In June 1999 five organic farmer associations founded the Union of Slovenian Organic Farmers’ Association with the aim of promoting a common trade mark for organic products under common standards.
In 1999 the Ministry of Agriculture introduced direct payments for organic farmers, at the moment as a measure for 1999 only.
ISD was involved in all steps of introduction and development of organic farming in Slovenia: facilitation of cooperation and organizing of organic farmers, elaboration of the first Slovenian organic production and processing standards, development of control and certification system and the elaboration of a proposal for national law/regulation on organic farming.
CONVERSION TO ORGANIC FARMING IN THE LJUBLJANA CITY COMMUNITY
In 1998 a development project aimed at facilitating conversion to organic farming for interested farmers, supported by the Ljubljana City Community, was introduced. The interest of the Community for introduction of organic farming is based mainly on three needs:
a) to reduce groundwater pollution (source of drinking water for the city) with agricultural chemicals, mainly herbicides;
b) to maintain the typical rural cultural landscape in the city surroundings by creating better income opportunities for farmers;
c) to introduce farming practices suitable for a sensitive nature conservation area - Ljubljana Moor.
In the framework of the project, few of the most appropriate farms included are supposed to be developed in demonstration/pilot organic farms.
In 1998 we started with two farms and proceeded in 1999 with five. In 2000 twelve to twenty farms are expected to take part. As this was the first project of this kind in the country and no experience was yet available, as well as the available financing being modest, the strategy was to start on a smaller scale with really interested farmers by preparing individual conversion schemes, observing which of the most evident problems appear and then including some simple research/demonstration on-farm trials.
The following problems were selected as being the most important:
- the ability of farmers to understand interaction of different factors, i.e. rotation of crops, soil structure, success of mechanical weed control; soil structure and quality/rotation of crops, plant health, etc.;
- lack of knowledge on available management of pests in organic agriculture, which is necessary especially in the conversion period.
In 2000 we will continue the project of facilitating conversion and include on-field trials/demonstrations of possible solutions to the most important problems detected.
MARKETING OF ORGANIC PRODUCTS IN THE LJUBLJANA CITY COMMUNITY
In 1999 the first organic farmers’ market in Ljubljana was set up. Through the project supported by the Ljubljana City Community, the following were carried out:
- research on experiences with marketing of organic products in different countries;
- preparation of a summary of present market studies in Slovenia with relevance to organic production;
- a proposal for the form of the first organized marketing of organic products in Slovenia.
With regard to the conclusions, an organic farmers’ market was chosen as the best option. It has been in operation on Saturdays since July 1999, with on average five to seven farmers selling their own products, mostly fresh vegetables and fruit.
The response of consumers is good, especially with regard to deliberately modest advertising, due to a limited amount of products available. However, it was estimated that it is very important to develop marketing along with production right from the start, in order to slowly open the market for organic products and thus prevent saturation in the phases of increased production.
PROJECT OF SETTING UP OF A PILOT ORGANIC FARM IN THE KARST REGION
For 2000 a project to set up a demonstration organic farm in the Karst Region is planned. The farm lies within the boundaries of the future Sneznik Regional Park and in the vicinity of Cerknisko Jezero, an intermittent karst lake, famous for its value of several special natural phenomena.
The farm should comprise different fields of work appropriate for the Region. Karst regions are especially sensitive from the viewpoint of environment protection and nature conservation. On the farm, research on appropriate technologies of organic agriculture for the Karst Region and demonstration of these shall be implemented.
During 1999 the setting-up of a visiting garden with autochthonous, endangered and interesting plant species with emphasis on agriculturally interesting plants was started.
Slabe: Final report of the project “Conversion of Farms in Ljubljana City Community to Organic Farming”, Institute for Sustainable Development, Ljubljana, December 1999.
Bulgarian agriculture is in a deep crisis, it is at a crossroads and is seeking the right approach to develop its future. A challenge for rural policy in Bulgaria is to find agricultural systems that produce enough food, preserve the environment and increase employment. To meet these three aims, a policy for agricultural sustainability is needed. Sustainability of agriculture in Bulgarian conditions could be obtained developing organic farming, low input sustainable agriculture (LISA) and integrated production.
Organic agriculture and LISA are still at the initial stage of development but Bulgaria has several favourable pre-conditions for such systems:
- proposals for Bulgarian standards for organic production, based on IFOAM standards and EC Regulation 2092/91 and the certification programme for organic agriculture and strategy for sustainable development of Bulgarian agriculture;
- technical expertise such as the Agroecological Center at the Agricultural University of Plovdiv (AUP), an agro-ecology speciality at AUP and two demonstration centres for sustainable agriculture, set up in the framework of a PHARE Danube Project;
- a large number of specialists, local authorities and farmers have been trained in sustainable agriculture;
- an association for ecological agriculture “ECOFARM’’ in Plovdiv was established as an organization supporting the development of organic agriculture and LISA in Bulgaria;
- more than 25 farms were registered in the conversion period;
- favourable geographical and climate conditions for organic agriculture exist, especially in mountain and semi-mountain regions in combination with ecotourism;
- socio-economical situation and the lack of capital in the country that limit the intensification of agricultural production;
- good marketing potential for certified organic products as some Bulgarian products are already known on the EU market.
At national level:
- unfinished agricultural reform;
- absence of accepted national strategy for sustainable agriculture;
- no Government financial support to OA and LISA;
- absence of legislative structures with respect to OA and LISA;
- very low purchasing and investment power of the Bulgarian consumers and producers;
- lack of a preferential credit system for OA and LISA.
On farm level:
- lack of financial capital for farm investments;
- lack of enough knowledge and experience in OA and LISA;
- decreased bio-diversity: diseases, pest and weed infestations.
THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO:
- harmonize Bulgarian laws, regulations and standards with those of the EU;
- accept and implement a national strategy and action plan for development of OA and LISA;
- establish subsidies for environmentally friendly agriculture;
- coordinate marketing of organic products, including certification.
CONCLUSIONS AND PROPOSALS
EU pre-accession funds should be made available for agri-environmental programmes. With their support and action by all institutions it will be possible to achieve a strategy: ten percent of certified organic agricultural production and at least ten percent of LISA or integrated production in Bulgaria by 2010.
Karov, S., Sustainable farming in Bulgaria. Newsletter for agriculture, environment and rural development in Central and Eastern Europe, issue 3 July 1999.
Karov, S., Popov, V. and Paraskevov, P. National strategy paper for agricultural sustainability. Agroecological Centre at Agricultural University Plovdiv, April 1999.
Karov, S., Popov, V. and Paraskevov, P. Annual demonstration centre progress report, 1998. Agroecological Centre at Agricultural University Plovdiv, April 1999.
Kieft, H. Strategy and recommendations for low-input sustainable agriculture on a large® scale in the Danube River Basin. Report for EU-Phare Project EU/301/91, ETC-NL, Leusden, May 1999.
Kieft, H. Setting up demonstration centres for sustainable agriculture in the Danube Basin and regional study on market aspect. Project EU/AR/301/91, Phare EPDRB-ARP. Final Report, ETC-NL, Leusden, May 1999.
Kieft, H. Low input sustainable agriculture a model for Central and Eastern Europe. Newsletter for agriculture, environment and rural development in Central and Eastern Europe, issue 3 July 1999.
Organic farming in Lithuania is becoming increasingly popular. One hundred and seventy- one organic farms have been certified this year, total land area, 4 000 ha. Organic growers have a lot of questions that require answers.
The research experiments are on-going in long-term field trials, research centres, laboratories and on farms. There are not many scientists that carry out research on farms in Lithuania but this kind of activity should develop in the future. Some experiments carried out on organic farms are discussed in this article.
QUALITY TEST OF ORGANIC PRODUCTS
V. Rutkoviene, Lithuanian University of Agriculture
A. Kranauskas, National Centre of Nutrition
The comparative experiments of products grown have been done on organic and conventional farms. One thousand, seven hundred and thirty-five samples from 29 areas of Lithuania were analysed. The following contamination has been estimated: nitrates, heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury) and pesticides (DDT, HCH, lindanum, HCB). Milk, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, beets, rye, wheat flour, fine ground barley, eggs, poultry, pork liver and fat and beef were tested for pollutants. The research is planned to be continued and cooperation with foreign scientists would be very useful.
VARIETIES OF POTATOES IN ORGANIC FARMS
V. Zekoniene, Lithuanian Institute of Agriculture
Tel.: 370 2 645309, Fax.: 370 2 645430, Email: Ek@nora.lzua.lt
Research of potato varieties for organic farming is carried out for three year. During the experiment the time of maturing, foliating, production value, exterior, taste, productivity, etc., are estimated. The best Lithuanian variety of potatoes “Venta” were selected for sandy loam and loamy soils in Lithuania after three years of research. Potato growing recommendations (crop rotations, fertilizing, care of crop and so on) were also prepared.
RESEARCH OF CONVERSION TO ORGANIC FARMING
J. Pekarskas, V. Boguzas, Lithuanian University of Agriculture
Tel.: 370 7 296772, Fax.: 370 7 296531, Email: AFZE@nora.lzua.lt
Experiments took place on the farm of the Agroecological Research Centre at the Lithuanian University of Agriculture. Conversion to organic farming started in 1996. A plan of conversion from conventional to organic farming (crop rotations, fertilizing and plan of research) was prepared in cooperation with Swedish scientists. Research at this Centre was carried out for three years: interaction between sort of farming, soil characteristic, flora and fauna. Mechanical and chemical characteristics of the soil, grade of soil improvement, assortment of bugs in top soil and their dynamics in field crops were evaluated during the experiment. Crop diseases, microflora of the soil and amount of weeds in the crop and soil were analysed. This research is on-going.
RESEARCH OF ANIMAL FEED QUALITY CONTROL IN ORGANIC FARMING
B. Bakutis, Department of Animal Welfare, Lithuanian Academy of Veterinary
Tel.: 370 7 268207, Fax.: 370 7 261417
Research of animal feed quality control in organic farms has been on-going since 1998 at the Laboratory of Micotoxins of the Department of Animal Welfare (Lithuanian Academy of Veterinary). Foodstuff from organic farms has been analysed and the pollution by producents of micotoxine and their products were micotoxine tested during the experiments. The most widespread producents of micotoxine in foodstuff are “field” fungi and especially Fusarium and “storage’s” fungi - Penicilium and Aspergillus genus. The species diversity of micotoxine in organic foodstuff is higher then in conventional foodstuffs, however, the rates of micotoxine are of an admissible level.
PERSPECTIVES BASED ON THE CASE STUDIES OF FOUR LITHUANIAN FARMS
Agr. Techn. P. Riesinger, Department of Ecology and Crop Production Science
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Email: email@example.com
A student of the Swedish University of Agriculture, Paul Riesinger, carried out some research on ecological farms in Lithuania. Case studies were carried out on four Lithuanian farms with different enterprise structures and farming systems. The farms are used within a unifying concept which aims at a description of the present situation, the implementation of efficiency parameters and suggestions regarding improvements of the overall efficiency and sustainability of Lithuanian agriculture.
The parameters used in this investigation are microeconomic profitability for the economic viability, nitrogen balances for the environmental impact and energy productivity for the long-term sustainability. The demand for social acceptance is satisfied by following the approach of Participatory Rural Appraisal.
The profitability of Lithuanian agriculture can be improved by rationalization, cooperation and own processing. Investments have to take into account future structural changes. The negative environmental impact of agriculture can be decreased by investments in the manure handling chain and by good agricultural practices. An improvement of the energy efficiency of agriculture has to aim at a favourable transformation of inputs to yield, a decrease in the use of fossil fuels, a higher degree of integration of animal husbandry in cropping systems and a decreased share of livestock production in relationship to crop production.
We can expect development of research on Lithuanian organic farms in the near future.