What is encouraging or discouraging farmers to use organic seed in the organic supply chains? Findings from LIVESEED farmers survey available
The new EU Organic Regulation 2018/848 will apply from 1 January 2021. By January 2036 it will phase out the option for farmers to use untreated conventional seeds, if organic seeds are not available. While this creates an opportunity for the organic seed market to develop, farmers might face a restriction in the choice of varieties if the challenges to use organic seeds are not resolved.
To identify the challenges, the LIVESEED project partner Organic Research Centre (ORC, UK), investigated factors encouraging or discouraging farmers to use organic seeds. This research is the first to consider the farmers’ point of view by surveying 839 certified organic farmers across 17 European countries and all crop sectors.
The survey revealed that the following factors are influencing organic seed use:
- Geographical location: Farmers in Central and Northern Europe report a high availability of organic seeds for the varieties they need. Their main source for seed supply are seed companies. Farmers in Eastern and Mediterranean countries often use farm-saved seeds;
- Marketing channels: Farms selling directly to consumers or to organic farms have a higher share of organic seed use than farms that sell to supermarkets;
- Crop sector: The use of organic seeds is higher in arable and forage farms in comparison to fruit-oriented farms;
- Seed quality: Farmers are mostly satisfied with the quality of seed. Some report problems with germination, pests and diseases, but cannot clearly attribute these problems to the origin of the seed.