In 2020, appeals for subsidies by organic food producers have twice exceeded the amount of allocated funds in the national budget, which testifies to strong interest among farmers to engage in this type of production, but also the need to have local governments involved in encouraging organic production.
- The period when organic producers need the most help is the very beginning, when they are starting the conversion and certification process, and this period can last up to three years, depending on the type of production. The subsidies for organic plant production are currently four times higher compared to conventional agriculture, and 40% higher in the field of husbandry. Over the past ten years, the areas used for organic production have been increased by 236%, but they still account for only 0.6% of the total farming land - said Jelena Milić, Head of Group for Organic Production in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management at the online conference „How to improve the development of organic farming on the local level“.
The webinar was organized by NALED in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro Cluster from Novi Sad, within the Public Private Dialogue for Growth project supported by USAID, with the aim of overcoming the obstacles that hinder the development of organic production in Serbia.
The event highlighed the high initial investments and demanding administration as the key obstacles faced by organic producers. Novi Sad is an example of local government that handled the fear of achieveing return on investments by refunding full expenses of the control and certification process, and providing support for the procurement of seeds, protective equipment, education and promotion. This year, five million RSD has been allocated for this purpose. A similar approach has already been announced by other local governments such as Kruševac and Dimitrovgrad.
Ratko Aksentijević from the association of organic sheep and cattle breeders „Golija“ said that the inentives are highly impotant for the breeders, since the administrative requirements in this field are much higher compared to plant production, highlighting the need for encouraging group certification of producers, so as to enable a large number of farmers to engage in organic production.
The webinar announced the adoption of the new Law on organic production during next year, and there are also plans to enable refund of certification costs for producers doing placement in the EU market (with a possibility of expansion to the markets of USA and Japan).
Organic production in Serbia is most commonly used for fruits (raspberry, blackberry and apple concentrate), grains (corn and wheat) and industrial plants (soy and sunflower), as well as poultry and sheep. Compared to 2012, the numbr of producers has been increased from 1,000 to 6,260, but only 534 are certified, while the rest refer to cooperators in group certification system. Around 90% of production is intended for exports, and the value of goods placed abroad is nearly 30 million euros.
Production of organic wines for the first time in Serbia
The new Regulation on the control and certification in organic production, adopted in July this year, for the first regulates the possibility of producing organic wines in Serbia. It also expanded the list of plant protection and nutrition resources in line with the EU regulations, which will ease the production in the field that does not allow the use of hormones and GMO, as well as strictly limited use of plant protection means and antibiotics.