Organic in Croatia: plenty of room for improvement

Hrvatski eko proizvod - EU Organic Logo

Unfortunately, “Croatia belongs to the group of rare countries where organic agriculture is underdeveloped”, according to the group of authors from the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Agronomy and the “Marko Marulić” Academy in Knin.

In a paper[1] on organic agriculture in Europe and in Croatia (2011), K. Batelja Lodeta, J. Gugić and Z. Čmelik explain: “One of the major limiting factors for the development of organic agriculture is the market that is not organized and the lack of appropriate knowledge and skills. The developing potential is in young educated people interested in organic production and the growing number of consumers aware of organic production.”

To look on the bright side, according to the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture data, over last 10 years the number of organic producers has multiplied 10 times: from only 130 in 2003 to 1528 in 2012. That could draw to a conclusion that the increase in organic land area would follow, but instead… In 2012, the share of agricultural surfaces dedicated to organic farming was only 2.45% (32,000 hectares out of 1,300,000 overall), what shows that there is still a lot of room for improvement.

The organic land in Croatia consists of:

  • Fields (animal feed, grains, oil crops and pulses) – 68.8%
  • Grassland – 14.1%
  • Orchards – 8.9%
  • Medicinal plants – 20%
  • Olive groves – 1.6%
  • Vineyards – 1.3%
  • Vegetables – 0.5%

The gap between the growing demand (both in Europe and Croatia) and the lack of production is planned to be decreased by taking actions on a national level. Following the model of the 2004 European Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming, in 2011 the Government has set out the Action Plan for Organic Development in Croatia. Its main goal is to raise the share of organic land to 8% by 2016. Other aims are mostly focused on encouraging rural development and raising awareness of the quality of organic products and their benefits for consumers and the environment.

In addition to the national legislation on organic production, as of 1 July 2013 the Common Agricultural Policy is in power in Croatia as well as the European Union organic regulation:

The term “ekološki”  was inserted in the Reg. (EC) No 834/2007 to indicate and label organic products in Croatia and the EU import rules do not apply to Croatian products anymore, thus breaking the last barrier to increase the export of agricultural goods with focus on their (organic) quality.

[1] Kristina Batelja Lodeta, Josip Gugić, Zlatko Čmelik: Organic agriculture in Europe and in Croatia with emphasis on pomology, Pomologia Croatica (scientific publication issued by the Croatian Association of Agronomists) vol. 17 – 2011 (no. 3 – 4), 2011


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