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Organic farming in Bulgaria and Croatia expanding quicklyThe two countries have seen the highest rate of expansion in their organic farming sectors in the whole of the EU in recent years.
Bulgaria and Croatia are the EU member states with highest growing organic farming sectors in the 28-nation bloc, according to the latest data from European Statistics Agency, Eurostat. While the total area of organic production in the EU grew by 18.7% from 2012 to 2016, in Bulgaria the growth rate was over 310%, and in Croatia it was 193.4%.
The two states also hold the largest shares of areas of land under conversion to fully organic land, which shows a large potential for growth in this sector. Despite these record growth rates, however, organic farmers in both countries still face challenges compared to their competitors in the earlier EU member states.
Albena Simeonova, president of Bulgaria’s Association of Bioproducers, confirms organic farming in Bulgaria has boomed in the recent years. “In 2009, when we created the Association, we were 25 people. Now, the number of registered Bulgarian organic producers is between 7,100 and 7,200,” she said. However, Simeonova acknowledged that thousands of those people are just the owners of meadows that in reality do not produce anything organic. And this distorts the data. “The state has allowed the funding of farmers who do not produce anything.”
This limits the amount of funding available for genuine producers, which makes them less competitive against both conventional farmers in Bulgaria and organic producers in the rest of Europe.
According to balkaninsight.com, in wealthier Croatia, where the average monthly salary is about 800 euros, the relatively higher price of organic produce in comparison to conventional produce does not seem to worry shoppers. Croatia had 4,751 certified organic producers in 2017, which was 20% more than the year before.
“There is much more demand now for such food than there is either producers or the food,” said Snjezana Zidanic-MIhaljevic, a producer of organically grown vegetables from a village close to Zagreb.
Publication date: 1/31/2018
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