Thirsty for Organic Farming

Organic farming has become more and more popular in Romania, in the last years. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the number of certified organic farmers has increased from 3.400, in 2006, to 14.500, in 2012. In the same period of time, the certified organic farmland has increased from 45.600 ha, to 288.200 ha.
Although the data in this field became bigger and bigger, there is no electronic centralization of these farmers, their lands or their organic products.

The only detailed information you can find about organic farms in Romania is the scanned certificates released by private institutions that verify if an operator respects the principles of ecological agriculture. BSC Oko-Garantie, Cert Organic or Icea Romania are just a few of them. So if you want to find out who is cultivating what in your area, you have to go to the Ministery of Agriculte website, search for organic farming (See map), and then take these institutions one by one. Many documents you find here show nothing about the crop, the position or the surface being farmed.

When it comes to the national popularity of organic farming (See map), we find in Tulcea, a region situated in the South-East of Romania, the biggest certified organic farmland. Timis county, from Western Romania, is ranked the 3rd in the country.

This is the first one in the country when it comes to the surfaces that where bought by foreigners and to the lands that are not farmed at all.

The certificates that state the organic farming have different formats from one institute to another and no geographical indicators but the city or village where the activity is done. Analyzing them one by one and looking at the map below it is visible that the biggest surfaces where organic farming is done are the ones next to the border with Hungary and Serbia. Cereals are cultivated on all these lands and exceed 200 ha.

According to the Ministery of Agriculture and Rural Development in Romania, when it comes to the distribution of products, the biggest surfaces are cultivated with winter wheat (26.2%), sunflower (15.2%), corn (8.1%), soya (7.8 %). Vegetables and fruits are on the last positions in the ranking.

According to the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture, there were 99 certified organic farmers in Timis county, in 2012. Looking at the chart of the organic stages, we can see that the most of the surfaces are in the second year of conversion from conventional to organic farming. Another conclusion from these charts is that the foreign companies are the ones working most of the land in Timis, based on organic principles.

One of the main challenges Romanian farmers have to deal with is the lack of support when it comes to bringing their products close to the consumers. The prices are higher than the ones of the products obtained from classical farming and the supermarkets are full of products coming from abroad.

On the map of organic farmers, we can find Ioan Jivu, from Belint, growing vegetables on 6 ha, in the 3rd year of conversion from conventional to organic. He explains that the production is about 30-40% of the regular one, which uses chemicals. While trying to find a way to sell its carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, he was contacted by the representatives of CRIES (Ressources Center for Ethical and Solidarity), an NGO that launched ASAT (Association to support peasant (=small scale sustainable family) agriculture) local&solidarity-based partnerships for healthy food, aiming to help farmers get their products near the people living in the city.

He joined “The Vegetable Basket” and each week, he comes to Timisoara to deliver a basket full of fresh organic products to 300 families. “Organic farming is much more difficult than the classical one because the investment is bigger. Organic products mean organic from seed to the fruit, without any pesticide. Everything is done manually”, said Ioan Jivu.
On the same map that shows where the organic farmers from Timis County are, we also find Lia Aron. An accountant, she decided to invest in a small farm, where she plants tens of species of salad, mustard, tomatoes. She is trying to create a “seeds’ bank”. “Every year, I’m gathering seeds from my own crop,
she explained. People contact me on the internet and I give people seeds, wishing they will plant them and the give some to the others”, says Lia Aron.

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