KEY INDICATORS 2012¹
• Organic agricultural area: 31904 hectares
• Organic operators: 1528
• Retail sales: EUR 104 million
HISTORY OF ORGANIC FARMING
• 1861: Rudolf Steiner, founder of bio-dynamic agriculture born in Croatia
• 1970s: First publications on organic farming by Pavao Krišković
• 1991: Establishment of BIOS, the first organic farming association
• 1996: Book, Organic Farming – Farming for the Future, published
• 2001: Law on organic farming adopted, followed by first certified production in 2002 and 2003<
KEY SECTOR INSTITUTIONS
• Association of Croatian Organic Agriculture Producers: www.eko-sever.hr
• Agricultural Advisory Service: www.savjetodavna.hr
• Bioinspekt (certification): www.bioinspekt.com
• Zadruga Agri Biocert (certification): www.agribiocert.hr
• Biotechnicon (certification): www.biotechnicon.hr/certifikacijsko_tijelo.asp
PRODUCTION BASE: LAND USE AND KEY CROPS
Of the total area of 31 900 hectares under organic cultivation, 56 % consists of arable crops, 24 % grassland, 13 % orchards and vineyards, 4 % herbs/medical plants and 3 % other crops. The key arable crops are cereals and oil crops (notably soya). Exact data is not publicly available. Cherries, sour cherries, apples and olives occupy the majority of the area of 2 800 hectares under fruit production. Grapes are grown on 634 hectares and herbs/medical plants on 1 160 hectares.
The organic market has been steadily growing over the last couple of years. Processing is still at an early stage of development, but is becoming more popular among organic producers. Most baby food in Croatia is organic, but nearly all is imported.
Top-selling products: There is no precise data on the best-selling products, but organic baby food, soya and cereal drinks are in high demand and can be found in nearly all supermarkets.
Market channels: There is no precise data on market channels, but the great majority of organic food and drinks are sold by general retailers. Two major Croatian traders with shops in the bigger cities dominate the specialised retail segment. Direct marketing is limited, partly due to complicated administrative procedures and controls. Internet sales are becoming more popular. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also sold at farmers markets.
Exports and imports: Data on exports and imports are not publicly available, but some estimates suggest that imported produce makes up approximately 60 % of the value of the organic food and drinks market.
STANDARDS, LEGISLATION, ORGANIC LOGO
The Law on Organic Farming Production and Sale of Organic Farming Produce (Official Gazette 139/10) and several by-laws are in place, and they are being implemented and enforced fairly well. Since July 2013, the EU legislation on organic farming and other regulations are applied.
There is a national organic logo in green and white, with the text: Croatian ECO produce.
National action plan: An Action Plan 2011-2016 was adopted in 2011, targeting use of 8 % of the total agricultural area for organic production by 2016. Its implementation is patchy, with no systematic monitoring, public reporting or funding available.
Support under EU rural development programmes: Croatia became a member of the EU on 1 July 2013. Organic farming payments have existed since 2005 and are approximately 30 % higher than conventional payments. However, organic farmers (like their conventional colleagues) receive these funds with a great delay of up to two years.
Other policy support: Funding by the central and regional governments for certain events, notably agricultural fairs and free extension services as part of the public extension service.
RESEARCH & ADVICE
Research on organic farming is marginal and practised only by individuals with a particular interest. Farmers can receive free advisory services and training through the public extension service.
CHALLENGES & OUTLOOK
Over the last ten years, the organically farmed area has increased by about 35 % per year, although in 2012, the organic area shrank by 0.4 %. This is because a significant number of farms, including some major producers, were no longer granted in-conversion status in 2012. There are significant subsidies for organic production, and effective organic advisory, inspection and certification services. EU membership will offer new funding opportunities and will further ease trade to and from EU countries.
• Organic Eprints for Croatia: www.orgprints.org/view/projects/Croatia.html
• Ecologica, with information for organic farmers and producers: www.ecologica.hr
• BioBio, a leading specialised retailer: www.biobio.hr
• Garden, the second largest specialised retailer: www.garden.hr/o-gardenu
• Ministry of Agriculture, organic farming pages: www.mps.hr/default.aspx?id=6184
For other relevant websites, see the section on key sector institutions.
Written by Darko Znaor, Independent Consultant, darko [at] znaor.eu
¹Area and operator data: Ministry of Agriculture; market data: Darko Znaor.
Want to learn more?
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