16th European Organic Congress (16-17 June 2022, Bordeaux, France, over 260 participants from 26 countries) paid special attention to the guests from Ukraine.
On the first day of the Forum the Ukrainian delegation together with the Congress organizers held a press conference during which they called the organic world to join in supporting the organic sector of Ukraine and Ukraine as a whole.
“Together with European, national and regional levels, we wanted to express our strong solidarity to the organic Ukrainian sector, to the farmers and to the companies that need help and need to produce and to harvest”, said Philippe Lassalle St-Jean, President of INTERBIO Nouvelle-Aquitaine, one of the Congress organizers this year. He continued: “We do support the Organic initiative platform that gathers the funding and the detailed requests of the organic operators from Ukraine. We think we should already be prepared for cooperation during the post-war period to maintain and develop the organic production in the country and to keep together the European targets of 25% of organic land in 2030”.
Since the beginning of the full scale russian invasion of Ukraine there have been numerous changes in the Ukrainian organic sector, same as in other sectors of economy. At the beginning of active hostilities almost a third of organic land sustained damage or was occupied.
About 30% of producers immediately declared a complete cessation of their activities and the same number – partial. A part of territories has been deoccupied, but about 1/5 of all organic land in Ukraine remains occupied, these are mainly the territories of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts. And even in the areas free from active hostilities, the risk of occupation and shelling remains and mines and missile debris endanger agricultural producers.
However, despite the difficult situation, we are already thinking about post-war recovery of Ukraine – this should be a full-fledged redevelopment and integration into the European community, based on sustainable development principles and taking into account the European Green Deal. Especially now, when Ukraine has been granted the EU candidate status.
Kateryna Shor, spokesperson of IFOAM Organics Europe’s Ukrainian members said: “The war in Ukraine demonstrates vulnerability of intensive production and long supply chains. Transition to local and sustainable food systems can ensure a stable income for local producers, lower food’s price, its carbon footprint, improve the quality of food and improve food security on local and regional level”.
Eduardo Cuoco, IFOAM Organics Europe Director, also highlighted this, as organic farming is the blueprint for an agroecological and social model of agriculture which is more independent from external inputs, resilient, fairer, healthier, knowledge-intensive and based on shorter supply chains.
“The EU Farm to Fork Strategy sets the right mid- and long-term objectives to ensure food security in an uncertain and volatile world and remains the only relevant political direction to transform our food system”, says Eduardo Cuoco.
In the frame of the Congress the Ukrainian delegation had a number of meetings where it specifically discussed the opportunities of post-war cooperation with Alain Rousset (in the centre), President of New Aquitaine (fr. Nouvelle-Aquitaine).
New Aquitaine is not only the biggest region in France by area, but also one of the richest ones. The region, famous for wine production, also actively develops organic production.
According to the recently published study of L’Agence Bio, the French Agency for Development and Promotion of Organic Farming, as of the end of 2021 New Aquitaine had the second largest organic areas in France, i.e. 360,136 ha, which is 9.2% of the total agricultural land in the region. Overall, there are about 8,800 organic farms. (To compare: according to the 2020 results Ukraine had 462,225 ha of organic land and 419 organic farms).
New Aquitaine actively promotes organic production through the organic territory development projects and introduction of organic food in public canteens. The indication system TERRITOIRE BIO ENGAGED introduced by the Association INTERBIO Nouvelle-Aquitaine has been extended to the majority of regions in France.
During the Congress we also witnesses the award of Saint-Emilion municipality with the mark “organic territory”, whose main activity is related to wine production.
In general, the New Aquitaine experience of organic production development can be a good example for recovery and further development of organic production in Ukraine, especially in the regions with similar climatic conditions.
Kateryna Shor, Project manager at Information Center “Green Dossier”, coordinator of the OrganicInfo.ua
- The official press release of the Congress (in Ukrainian and English)
- The media overview after the Congress: