Who are the potential producers for organic agriculture?
Apart from favorable conditions, organic agriculture in Serbia is underdeveloped. There are a number of reasons for this that our producers encounter when switching or engaging in this production.
As Svetljana Jerinić, associate for farming and vegetables at the Agricultural Advisory Services of Serbia (Poljoprivredne savetodavne službe Srbije — PSSS) in Valjevo, writes for the PSSS portal, the biggest problem for our agricultural producers is large initial investments. During the conversion period, investments are higher, and the product cannot be sold at a higher price as organic.
— Also, a big problem for our farmers is insufficient information about organic production and lack of professional knowledge. Organic production is still a big unknown and that is the reason why farmers find it harder to decide to engage in this production. Insufficient education about the differences in organic and conventional production technology is evident. For that reason, it is necessary to work on the education of all participants in organic agriculture, from agricultural advisors, through agricultural producers and consumers — says Jerinić.
One of the problems is the lack of input for organic production. Seed material and means of protection are almost non-existent on our market.
— The situation with mineral fertilizers has improved a lot lately and some fertilizers can be found not only in large centers, but also in smaller places, where they are more accessible to agricultural producers. There are no registered herbicides in organic production, which requires a greater share of human labor, especially in the production of fruits and vegetables — he points out.
What is a problem for our producers is the slightly more complicated documentation compared to conventional production.
— Namely, the application for certification, product labelling, requirements for the use of seeds from conventional production, field bookkeeping and many other documentation is one of the factors that discourages our producers in the process of deciding to switch to this type of production — the advisor notes.
Organic agriculture in our country, despite numerous problems, is a great opportunity and a good solution for small family farms. Large farms, which specialize in certain productions, can hardly reorient and adapt their mechanization and equipment to engage in organic production.
— The Agricultural Advisory and Expert Service Valjevo gives advice to small agricultural farms, which due to the necessary large investments cannot grow into larger or medium farms, to transfer all or part of their production from conventional to organic. Also, the advice is for these to be farms that have their own labor and mechanization available, so they can be sustainable in such business conditions — concludes Svetlana Jerinić.