Eight players in organic farming in the European Union have been rewarded at the first edition of the Organic Awards of the bloc of 27 members.
The awards were announced during the European Organic Day celebrations. Key EU institutions supported the events to promote an organic approach to farming while promoting biodiversity and its farm-to-fork strategy.
These winners inspire those working to make our food and agriculture system more sustainable.
From innovative techniques for growing and propagating mushrooms in Spain to bio-intensive gardens in old Croatian farms, the awards recognized specific organic farmers, projects and retailers.
Entire regions where organic farming thrives have also been rewarded. Occitanie, a region in southwestern France, won the award for best organic region, while Cilento, the first of the so-called “bio districts”, received a homonymous award. Incidentally, both are home to many organic olive groves.
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A jury made up of representatives from various institutions, including COPA-COGECA, a farmers’ union, and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), selected the winners.
“These winners, and those shortlisted, inspire those working to make our food and agricultural system more sustainable, using the potential of organic farming,” said Eduardo Cuoco, Director of IFOAM Europe. “Some of the award criteria were based on the holistic principles of organic care, health, ecology and equity.
Among the drivers of the Organic Day celebrations is the ambitious target set by the European Commission to have 25% of its agricultural land under organic farming schemes by 2030.
Some of the most relevant olive oil producing countries are moving in this direction. According to data from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, nearly 11% of the country’s usable agricultural land is under organic diets.
In addition, agricultural land under organic cultivation increased by 16% in 2021. The area of organic olive groves in the country also increased by 16%, reaching 256,510 hectares.
In Italy, more than 17% of the country’s usable agricultural land is under organic regimes, according to the Federation of Organic Producers (FederBio).
However, reaching the 2030 target will require a substantial acceleration of conversion to organic practices in many countries.
According to IFOAM, 14 million hectares – 9% – of agricultural land was organic across the European Union in 2019. Between 2014 and 2019, the area under organic farming in the bloc increased 8.6% per year.
“Based on these scenarios, the 25% target by 2030 is challenging but achievable and would require a three- to five-fold increase in spending,” IFOAM said.
In the EU, over 340,000 farmers have adopted or converted to organic diets and are responsible for over €38.8 billion in retail sales. About 3.2% of retail sales of agricultural products come from organic products.
“Today we celebrate organic production, a type of sustainable agriculture where food production is done in harmony with nature, biodiversity and animal welfare,” Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said during the introduction of the first European day of organic farming.
“I am happy that together with the European Parliament, the Council and the key players in this sector, we can launch this annual European day of organic farming, a great opportunity to raise awareness of organic production and to promote the key role that it plays in the transition to a food system”.