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Going Organic
May 7, 2015   
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Organic farming has grown steadily in Poland in recent years. Statistics point to an increased number of organic farms and of plants processing such produce. The amount of farmland used for the production of organic crops has also grown, while such food has become more widely available on the market.

In 2014, the number of organic farms throughout the country, at 24,834, was 11 times that in 2003. According to the European Union’s statistics office, Eurostat, in 2012, Poland ranked third in the European Union in terms of the number of organic farms. In 2014, the area of farmland used for organic farming, at 656,000 hectares, increased 11-fold in relation to 2003. Such a large number of organic farms can be regarded as a key strength because all these producers are knowledgeable on the rules of organic farming and the requirements in this sector.

Due to the large number of meadows and pastures, Poland’s organic farming sector has significant potential for further development.

In 2014, the number of plants processing organic produce in Poland, at 477, was 18 times higher than in 2003. These plants process not only domestic produce, but also produce from abroad. This is due to the fact that Poland neighbors countries with high demand for and spending on organic produce.

Most of the processing plants active in Poland in 2014 processed fruit and vegetables, followed by grain, coffee and tea, meat, and milk. Around 25 percent of plants processed other farm produce and foodstuffs, such as cocoa, chocolate and confectionery goods.

Another strength of Poland’s organic farming sector is that agricultural production here has been carried out with little use of pesticides and fertilizers for many years. Thanks to this many Polish agricultural producers know how to protect their crops using environmentally-friendly methods.

Many small farms in Poland promote biodiversity conservation. All these farms are naturally predisposed to embark on organic production. This is particularly important because Poland offers a great diversity of natural and climatic conditions favoring biodiversity conservation in rural areas and increasing the tourist appeal of the Polish countryside.

Other strengths of Poland’s organic farming sector include continually growing environmental awareness among farmers. Food producers are increasingly knowledgeable about the rules of traditional crop rotation and other natural methods of maintaining and increasing the biological activity of soil. Farms involved in the production of organic food are most often run by well-educated people who know how to cope even in difficult agricultural conditions and are open to innovation and collaboration with researchers.

Since 2004 farmer environmental awareness and innovative ecological products have been supported in Poland with special grants for research related to organic farming and through the promotion of research results in publications specializing in popular science. Over the past several years, a group of researchers has emerged with a strong track record in conducting research related to organic farming.

Yet another strength of Poland’s organic farming sector are special advisory units operating alongside research institutes and academic institutions with access to agricultural know-how and new solutions. Moreover, Poland’s organic farmers benefit from the expertise and skills of a network of organic farming inspectors.

As consumers grow aware of the impact that agriculture in the broad sense and food production and distribution have on the environment, they are increasingly capable of appreciating the benefits of organic food, which translates into rising demand for produce from this segment of agriculture.

An additional incentive for Polish organic farmers to develop further is an annual “competition for the best organic farm.” Also popular among producers is the Practical Training Center and a network of demonstration farms where best organic farming practices are implemented. Such initiatives, designed to promote the dissemination of information about organic farming, add to the demand for organic produce.

All these efforts result in improved cooperation between producers and environmental organizations. They also enable collaboration and the exchange of practical skills between science and business, help integrate the sector, and promote joint projects.

Considering the growing role of organic farming and the organic food market, a “Framework Action Plan for Food and Organic Farming in Poland for 2014-2020” has been drawn up to outline specific measures aimed at spurring this segment of agriculture.
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