Trends in the development of organic agriculture in the EAEU

Consumer demand for organic products is growing every year all over the world. However, the rate of development of such production in the Eurasian Economic Union remains not the highest: the share of areas involved in organic agriculture does not exceed 1% of the total arable land. Lack of uniform legislation slows down the arrival of new players in the industry.

There is a steady dynamic growth of the organic market in the world. According to data published this year by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the global market in 2019 grew by 10% compared to 2018 and reached the € 106 billion mark. Organic production now accounts for about 1.5% world farmland; in 2019, their area increased by 1.1 million hectares and amounted to 72.3 million hectares. There are about 3 million manufacturers of such products in 187 countries.

Production growth drives demand

The dynamics of the development of organic agricultural production in the Eurasian Economic Union is slightly behind the world indicators; however, positive dynamics can also be traced and will increase due to the adoption of special legislation in all countries of the Union. Thus, the area of ​​organic farmland in the EAEU already exceeds 1 million hectares, including 674 thousand hectares in Russia. Nevertheless, so far this is only less than 1% of all agricultural land, which means there are broad prospects for growth.

Another feature of organic agriculture in the EAEU countries is the raw material nature of the products it produces. The producers of the Union supply organic grains, oilseeds and legumes, wild plants to European countries, mainly for their further processing. However, this trend is typical for this stage of the sector's development, and subsequently, as the domestic market and consumer culture are formed, processors ready to produce value-added products will appear more and more often. The EAEU organic producers themselves note a significant potential for the development of such production in the Union due to the large number of unused agricultural lands free of pesticides and agrochemicals.

Regulatory issues

The relatively low volumes and growth rates of organic production in the EAEU member states are the result of the lack of legal regulation in this area. Armenia legislatively started regulating organic agriculture back in 2008. In Kazakhstan, the corresponding law was adopted only seven years later - in 2015, in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan - in 2019, and in Russia it came into force on January 1 2020.

The organic production standards adopted at the national level by the members of the Eurasian integration association also take into account the main regulatory provisions of the international Codex Alimentarius standard. At the same time, for the purposes of international recognition, it is important to confirm the compliance of national standards with the general goals and requirements of organic standards (Common Objectives and Requirements of Organic Standards - COROS), as a result of which, in accordance with the general principles of organic agriculture, they are included in the family of standards of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

At the meeting on July 14, the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission agreed on a draft "road map" for the formation of a common market for organic agricultural products in the territory of the Eurasian Economic Union. The document is planned to be approved at the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council in August 2021, according to the message of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation. "Integration measures for the development of organic agriculture will form an additional export potential for goods from the Union countries, create conditions for increasing their competitiveness in foreign markets," the ministry said. The document provides for the adoption of an international treaty within the Union for approximation of national legislation in this area, including in terms of requirements for the production and labeling of organic matter in accordance with international standards.

What needs to be done?

As part of the work on further expansion and growth of the organic production sector of the EAEU Member States, it is first of all necessary to develop economic incentives to attract more organizations, farmers, farms and processors to the "organic" category. In the context of the Eurasian integration project, such a stimulating factor is the common market of the Union and the free circulation of organics on it, as well as the possibility of exporting such products to the markets of the EAEU, creating conditions for expanding supplies to the European Union, the Middle East and China. Of particular importance is the formation of a clear understanding of the differences between organic products and those having similar in perception names (farm, natural, etc.) among the consumers of the Union countries. The ”road map” should resolve these issues and ensure the smooth circulation of organic agricultural products within the Union.

Fresh organic vegetables

The development of organic agriculture requires adaptation of agricultural technologies, including the techniques of precision farming, development of specialized crop rotations with widespread use of green manure crops, the production of new forms of bio fertilizers, effective biological products for plant protection, introduction of tolerant and resistant plant varieties, adapted animal breeds. For development and implementation of scientific and technological solutions in organic agriculture, the potential and capabilities of research organizations of the EAEU can also be used, which can become an additional impetus for scientific and technological development.

Organic Farming in Russia

The Law on Organic Food entered into force on the first of January 2020. Three more regulations have been adopted to implement the law: GOST R 56104 2014: Organic food, terms and definition; GOST R 57022 2016: Production of ecological products. Procedure for voluntary certification; GOST 33980 2016: Products from organic farming, rules for production, processing, labelling and sale. Thus the Russian Federation has created a foundation which is based on the rules of European legislation.

The farms which have successfully completed the control procedure are to be published on the website of the Russian Ministry of Agriculture. Processing plants can label their products with a QR-Code. This code can be scanned by a consumer and is then entered in the Central Register of Certified Companies. To identify Russian organic products as such, the “ORGANIC” logo is used:

Russian Organic Logo

In the meantime, five private inspection bodies have been approved for certification according to Russian standards and also accredited by "Ross Accreditation". The Russian standard is still in its early stages and needs further elaboration. On the one hand, a reliable certification system should be established by creating a state monitoring system. On the other hand, organic producers should receive state support, not only financially but also by promoting infrastructure, transparency and acceptance, both among Russian consumers and on the international market. The Russian Standard is in the process of being accepted into the IFOAM family of eco-standards.

Apart from the fact that the law on organic farming came into force on 1.1.2020, there is currently no nationwide state support. There are, however, areas such as Yaroslavl, Tomsk, Mordovia and Voronezh, where organic farming is supported regionally.

National Organic Union and Union of Organic Farming are the associations acting to support development of Russian organic market. The main purpose of National Organic Union is to provide comprehensive support for creation and development of the national market for organic products in Russia and assistance in creating organizational, economic, legal and social conditions necessary for the development of domestic production of organic agricultural products. The Union of Organic Agriculture is an independent professional association, an official partner of the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia, the Federal State Budgetary Institution "Rosselkhoztsentr". The association brings together pioneers and managers of organic farming, agricultural producers, specialists, scientists, inspection bodies, producers of organic plant protection products and fertilizers. This association is a member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture IFOAM.

Russian Eco market

The size of the country and the long distances between producers and consumers alone make the organic market in Russia special. About 70% of the turnover of organic products is generated in Moscow and almost 30% in Saint Petersburg. The turnover in the remaining areas is marginal.

The classic way to buy organic food is still to go to a supermarket with a wide range of products. Here superfoods and organic products are usually offered in a "healthy corner". Organic dairy products are also offered by national producers, but are often sold out very quickly due to the low volume of production and high demand. The following supermarket chains offer a comprehensive organic range, both Russian products and imported goods: Azbuka Vkusa, Auchan, Globus.

Organic in Supermarket

It is important to invest in the infrastructure of Russian organic farming. The following points are particularly important:

  • Creation of a broad advisory system with exchanges between the parties in order to design new processing and distribution channels;
  • Promote organic farming in education and research;
  • Further development of the national standard by creating a transparent and effective control system;
  • Creation of acceptance among consumers by explaining and promoting the national standard.

LAN-Team Moscow

Sources: Agroinvestor, Organic Farming Union,  EkoConnect