Ukraine’s organic sector is in the news this week with the Minister of Agriculture opening the snappily titled first International Congress "Organic Ukraine 2017. Organic market development in Ukraine - from production to implementation."
The Minsters opening speech highlighted Ukraine’s organic sector has grown 90% in the last five years although 90% of very little is still not much but it does perhaps indicate a trend particularly now the government has identified organic as one of the key pillars for development.
I don’t think I would be giving anything away if I was to say I was a bit of fan of organic farming; it’s a great marketing opportunity for farmers around the world and it makes us question how we farm in the conventional systems which always has to be a good thing.
I used to teach an undergraduate module on organic farming in the breadbasket region of the UK and it would be fair to say I had my work cut out.
It was a challenge to get participants to even consider that organic farming could be an opportunity for some and that if their neighbour converted to organic it wasn’t a threat to their business so they should probably best just calm down a bit.
The usual argument was that we won’t be able to feed the world with organic produce because the yield just isn’t there.
Well yes and no. Organic wheat in the UK might yield considerably lower than a conventional system but that’s not necessarily the case in somewhere like Ukraine where the yield penalty would be small because conventional farming already is, in the main, a low input, low output extensive system.
And as we invest into organic farming research we will develop new techniques and technologies that will improve yields, it's not magic it's science.
Ukraine currently cultivates about 400,000ha of organic land and the Minister believes this will increase several fold on the back of increasing demand for organic produce.
He might just be right.