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Ukrainian green way from farm to fork: organic production

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(based on the online Discussion platform held on April 16)
The online event has attracted over 200 participants: experts and practitioners, representatives of international projects and organizations from Ukraine, Germany, Belgium. The discussion was held as a part of the International Congress “Organic Ukraine”, since the well-developed organic production can become a locomotive and driving force for the introduction of a new agricultural policy in Ukraine.

The implementation of the European Green Deal in Ukraine – particularly in a field of so important for us agriculture, is a complex issue, which requires wide public discussion involving many people from various backgrounds. For while the EU’s transition to the Green Deal is a build-up on the previous policy, for Ukraine it is a rather dramatic shift from current trends which poses a significant challenge.

Implementation of the European Green Deal, Farm to Fork Strategy, EU Organic Production Action Plan shall bring many changes. What will be the effect of increased amount of land managed and number of operators on Ukrainian producers? Would we maintain our leading position in the EU market? How shall the shortening of the supply chains affect our market? And how can we benefit from the new opportunities and minimize the losses during the transition?

The new EU policy includes not only provision for the significant enlargement of organic production in the EU, but that also for the increase of consumers’ demand for organic products. The panelists of the discussion agreed that increased demand will allow Ukrainian producers to continue exporting their produce to European neighbors. Moreover, special funding to support research and development of new technologies will be available to our farmers.

However, the key to success, for both European and Ukrainian producers, is to change the practices in order to adapt to the new demands.

As stressed Miguel de Porras, head of the office of the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture, FiBL, in Brussels, today the whole paradigm of agriculture is changing. Organic production is in a very good position at the moment, but it is not the only alternative that exists; organic production is only one of the first steps in a longer process.

As we all know the changes in agricultural policy and the whole direction of the EU’s priorities is caused by climate change and the global need for greening our lifestyle. Experts from the TNA project have studied the climatic impact of agriculture in Ukraine and for mitigating the impact offered to the farmers’ solutions of mainly technological nature, specifying that in general, the concept of organic production provides less pressure on the environment and climate compared to conventional farming.

However, as mentioned by Mykola Shlapak, expert of the TNA project, experts are still debating on the effect of reduced yield of organic production compared to conventional practices: the GHG release of organic production may be higher due to the need to increase land use to achieve the same amount of produce. That is why it is important for producers to understand the actual level of emissions on their lands. This may play a crucial role in many future developments, for example, in climate financing mechanisms. In general, the expert believes, the figures indicated in state programs have little importance to the business compared to the state policy and tools that are embedded in it and can provide benefits and support to producers. However, Ukrainian farmers are seriously concerned: the transition to the latest technologies offered by environmentalists requires considerable funding.

Obviously, these issues need to be carefully discussed further together by both environmentalists and agricultural producers.

“We need the cooperation of relevant ministries and broad involvement of business,” insists Olena Korogod (Berezovska), head of the Organic Ukraine NGO.

Climate-friendly technologies, consumption of local products, smart logistics and transportation, reduction of food waste – all this is important for the environment and climate. Traditional approaches rapidly become a thing of the past, as the conventional agricultural practices are no longer part of the solution to current challenges.

Dr. Stefan Dreesmann, Team Leader, German-Ukrainian Cooperation in Organic Agriculture, said that it is a fact now: the general attitude has changed, and many people today are concerned about the environment. We need to talk about this constantly: what will be our next steps, where will we take the money for it.

The main driving force for changes today are people.

People who have the right to a healthy diet, a prosperous environment, a decent job. At the heart of new European programs today is the peoples’ personal needs and worries, the overall well-being and well-being of small farmers. The programs include provisions to create bio-regions – the first examples of which are already available in the European Union. Organic production in Ukraine, according to Sergiy Galashevskyy, director of the Organic Standard certification body, is also mostly small and medium-sized farms. Therefore, development of the organic sector means additional jobs in villages (because organic production requires more labor), improving the economic prosperity of rural areas. Also a lot depends on the people on the ground: implementing new technologies, offering quality and honest produce, contributing to local social development.

In our blitz survey on the impact of organic production on the local community, the vast majority of participants voted for “Contributes to the social and economic development of the village”.

Mr. Dresmann cited examples from Germany regarding the development of rural areas through organic production. He also noted that there are two ways to support organic farming in Ukraine: exports and regional development. We have to state that now rural farmers think, first of all, about their own income, and then about the climate or pesticides. However, organic farms are setting an example and gradually gaining popularity and support from local authorities and the communities.

For example, this is what happens in the Rivne region, explained Konstantin Sichnoy, Deddens Agro LLC: “For us, the introduction of the European Green Deal felt like a breath of fresh air… It is a driver for our further research and development. Scientists say that Ukrainian lands can store up to 30% of carbon. That is, we can act as a carbon bank that might bring serious economic opportunities in exchange on guarantee of stable climatic conditions. And I feel that we will not be left alone”.

Tamara Malkova, Information Center “Green Dossier”, OrganicInfo.ua

Event materials:

  • Connection of the From Farm to Fork Strategy with other European Green Deal program documents (Kateryna Shor, Information Center “Green Dossier”) – Ukrainian version
  • Main tasks of the EU Organic Action Plan and some thoughts about future of third countries (Miguel de Porras, FiBL Europe) – Ukrainian and English versions
  • Conclusions of the study on the introduction of climate-friendly technologies in agriculture in Ukraine (Mykola Shlapak, TNA project) – Ukrainian version
  • Video recording of the event: Ukrainian and English versions

For information:

  • This event took place in the frame of the “Ukrainian Green Way from Farm to Fork: step by step” project implementing by Information Center “Green Dossier”. More information about project available by link.
  • V International “Congress Organic Ukraine” – is an international event established both to unify the Ukrainian organic community and to develop international partnership in Ukraine. This event is initiated and supported by Organic Ukraine NGO participants.
    This event is organised under the patronage of the Ministry for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine and with support of:
    – Switzerland in the frame of “Swiss-Ukrainian Program “Higher Value Added Trade from the Organic and Dairy Sector in Ukraine” is funded by Switzerland and implemented by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL, Switzerland) in partnership with SAFOSO AG (Switzerland), www.qftp.org.
    – Project “German-Ukrainian Cooperation in Organic Agriculture”.

This publication was produced with the support of the European Union and the International Renaissance Foundation within the framework of the EU4USociety project. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union and the International Renaissance Foundation.

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