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The Warsaw Voice » Society » December 21, 2011
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Organic Food Valley Cluster by Krzysztof Jończyk, PhD, project coordinator
December 21, 2011   
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The Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation—State Research Institute (IUNG) in the eastern Polish city of Puławy is one of the oldest agricultural research centers in Europe. Its history dates back 150 years. Over this period, the institute has conducted research in all agricultural science disciplines.

At present, the institute focuses on problems of sustainable development, and on supporting decision making by businesses and central and local government. The institute conducts research into a wide range of problems associated with plant production and the impact of farming on the environment. Among the institute’s interests is organic farming. The first research studies on this system of production date back to the early 1990s—these were analyses of organizational and economic aspects of organic farms and the evaluation of the potential for the development of organic farming in northeastern Poland. The institute’s staff took part in the process of adapting Polish organic farming to European Union regulations. Another research area covers studies designed to improve techniques of cereal and fodder crop production, and to assess the production and environmental results of organic farming. The research studies are conducted as part of foreign projects, and as projects funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and numerous individual grants. Thanks to them, the institute is able to share experience and establish cooperation with other research centers in Poland and abroad. The institute has a competent staff of specialists, extensive research resources and experience in conducting research in the areas mentioned above.

This experience helped the institute receive funding for a project entitled The Development of the Organic Food Valley Cluster. The main objective of the project is to build in eastern Poland a supraregional platform of cooperation for developing and promoting organic food products. The cluster is Poland’s first institution which brings together organizations whose mission is to promote and develop organic food. Any institutions interested in the development of organic food production based in eastern Poland, that is in the Lublin, Podkarpacie, ¦więtokrzyskie, Podlasie and Warmia-Mazuria provinces, are welcome to join the cluster.

What is organic farming? It is a system of farming which relies on natural mechanisms present in the environment. In Europe, it is developing the most rapidly in areas with difficult natural conditions, that is places where competition with conventional farms is hard or impossible. In these areas, apart from producing food, organic farming also performs a protective role, such as preserving environmental assets, biodiversity and cultural values.

In Poland, organic farming has been developing very rapidly. In the period from 2004-2010, there was a sixfold increase in the number of organic farms and their total area. Data for the end of 2010 indicates that the total number of certified organic farms or farms in the process of transition into eco-production exceeded 20,000, while the total area of agricultural land used by these farms exceeded 500,000 hectares, or 3 percent of all agricultural land in Poland. The Polish organic food market is estimated at zl.400-500 million. A large part of organic food produced in Poland is exported to other countries. Experts predict that organic food sales may go up by as much as 10-15 percent in 2012.

The cluster takes part in the most important events held at home and abroad to promote organic food, including Biofach in Nuremberg, the Organic Marketing Forum, NaturaFood and the Eko Gala. It promotes organic food producers and defines and solves their problems. Additionally, it provides information and training at periodical meetings called Eko Forums.

You are welcome to work with the cluster. More details at www.dolinaeko.pl

Organic Food Valley Cluster
Office: ul. Nadbystrzycka 44a, 20-618 Lublin
tel. +48 81 538 46 68
e-mail: biuro@dolinaeko.pl
Project coordinator: IUNG-PIB
ul. Czartoryskich 8, 24-100 Puławy
tel. +48 81 8863421 ext. 360
e-mail: dez@iung.pulawy.pl
Project manager: Krzysztof Jończyk, PhD
kjonczyk@iung.pulawy.pl
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