The Eastern Partnership Panel on Organic Agriculture was held on 25-26 April in Tartu, Estonia. The VII Eastern Partnership Panel was organised by the European Commission and hosted by the Ministry of Rural Affairs of Estonia.
“The aim of the meeting is to exchange ideas on the development of organic farming in the European Union and in Eastern Partnership countries and to establish contacts between countries in order to support the ambitions and development of Eastern Partnership countries with regard to the EU,” Deputy Secretary General for Food Safety, Research and Development of the Ministry of Rural Affairs, Toomas Kevvai, commented on the panel.
“Environmentally friendly production is increasing rapidly throughout the world, including Estonia. Consumers’ demand for organic products is becoming greater with more and more new organic producers entering the market. This also increases the area of organic farmland,” Deputy Secretary General Kevvai added in his introduction to the panel. In Estonia, nearly 21% or 210 033 hectares of agricultural land was organic in 2018, which places Estonia second among EU countries. The export of organic products has surged together with the increase of organic farmland, doubling since 2013. In 2013, the export of organic products made up 5.9 million euros, while in 2015 this had increased to 15.6 million euros and made a massive leap to 27.2 million euros by 2017.
Organic farming in Eastern Partnership countries is still in early stages. In 2017, the total size of organic farmland in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova was 360 000 hectares, with most of it located in Ukraine. The main products include fruit, vegetables and grain.
The Eastern Partnership Panel hosted officials from the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission, as well as Estonia, with participants from Eastern Partnership countries and Estonian organic farming organisations.
The Eastern Partnership Panel on Organic Agriculture was preceded by the VII International Agroforum Mare Balticum on 23-25 April organised by the Ministry of Rural Affairs and the Estonian University of Life Sciences and their partners, which focused on agroecology as a driver for sustainable food systems.