The organic farming may seem a return to the past at some point, to traditional methods of agriculture and to the Middle Ages. While the world is desperately struggling with GMO on stores’ shelves and some species of insects extinct due to pesticides, organic farming shows realistic and safe ways of agriculture development.
Yakov Lyubovedsky, a member of the Organic Farming Union told our portal about the peculiarities of this type of agriculture, its advantages and intricacies.
How organic farming can help to achieve UN goals on the sustainable development? (elimination of hunger, climate change, conservation of ecosystems?
Organic agriculture solves those problems and issues that traditional agriculture cannot. It has a totally different approach, which is based on refusal from pesticides, GMOs, growth hormones, antibiotics, food additives. Organic farming does not pollute the soil, ground waters, the environment - it is based on natural fertility and nature-like technologies. The fundamental principle of organic farming - health of soil, ecosystems and people. The organic agriculture uses adaptive varieties and species, special crop rotation, green manure crops, biological systems of plant protection, probiotics, various biotechnologies based on wholesome microorganisms. This is a fundamentally new, innovative "nature-like technology that does not damage the surrounding world, but coexists in harmony with it and allows to restore the balance between the biosphere and the technosphere disrupted by human beings" – pointed out by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his speech at the General Assembly of UNPO on September 28, 2015.
In this sense, Russia urges to look at the issue more globally, to go beyond the basic goals of sustainable development of the United Nations (hunger, climate change, ecosystem conservation, etc.). It will allow to create fundamentally new and innovative technologies not only to solve tactical problems, but also to change the strategic approach to the relations between human activities and its effects on the environment.
What concerns the specific contribution of organic agriculture to sustainable development, we can mention the following tasks:
- Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which is consistent with the UN goals on the sustainable development. According to the Rodale institute, greenhouse gas emissions from organic agriculture are 40% less than those from the traditional one.
- Reducing energy consumption in the production sphere. According to the Rodale Institute of Organic Agriculture, organic systems use 45% less energy than intensive agriculture.
- Improvement of agro-biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. For example, the United States annually loses about 15 billion US dollars due to the mass extinction of bees and other pollinators. They are dying also because of pesticides and GMO crops.
- Savings from non- mandatory technical operations, which in Russia can be estimated at 30-50 bln. rubles, according to the Federal State Unitary Enterprise "Research Institute AgroEcoInform".
- Reducing the main consequences of environmental risks of agricultural land use (agrogenic land degradation, soil contamination, agricultural products, air, surface and groundwater), reduced economic losses from the recovery environment.
According to the WHO report (2011), the economic losses from environmental problems associated with intensive agriculture (estimated impact on water, soil, air, biodiversity and landscape, health) in the United Kingdom in 1995 amounted to 117 197 million rubles, Germany - 61.551 million rubles. According to estimates of the Union of Organic Farming, economic damage from intensive agriculture in Russia exceeds 3 bln. rubles per year.
What is your view on the prospects of development of organic agriculture in Russia?
At the moment, the turnover in the field of organic agriculture in the world is 85-90 billion dollars per year.
Experts predict that by 2020 this figure will reach 200-250 billion dollars. According to the forecasts of the Union of organic farming, Russia may take 10-15% of the market.
According to calculations of Federal State Unitary Enterprise "Research Institute AgroEcoInform" Russia's potential in organic farming by 2020 is 600-700 bln rubles annually. This number includes domestic sales - 300 bln rubles and 300-400 bln rubles as export potential.
The development of the organic agriculture in Russia is reasoned by two main factors - the demand that far exceeds the supply, and the presence of unique natural resources.
According to the Romir research center, 58% of Russians are ready to buy organic products. According to the Post-Crisis World Fund, 21% of the population of Russia is well aware what organic and environmentally friendly products are and are commited to buy them. Organic products in Russia are mostly purchased by housewives, mothers for their children and loved ones - 45%, the followers of a healthy lifestyle - 30%, those who have to eat healthy food for health reasons (allergies, dieters, pregnant, nursing, etc.) - 10%. And only 10% - a luxury segment 5%. (TNS).
Russian natural resources for the organic agriculture have no analogues in the world. 40 mln of hectares of fallow farmlands that have not been polluted with chemicals for more than 20 years. This can be compared with a total area of organic land of the world (43.1 million hectares). 20% of fresh water in the world, 9% of the planet's arable land, 58% of world reserves of black soil. Organic products are made exclusively on renewable resources - is an inexhaustible source of exports.
What is the government’s position on the GMO issue and the support of organic farming?
In the summer of 2015, Russia adopted a National Standard GOST R 56508-2015 "Organic production. Rules of production, storage and transportation."
According to Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, a federal law on organic agriculture has a high degree of readiness and may be adopted in the nearest future.
Some regions have their own regulations in the sphere of the organic farming - Ulyanovsk region, Krasnodar, Voronezh region. Bioagriculture as one of the important components of organic farming is being successfully implemented in the Belgorod region, the Altai Territory, Altai Republic Buryatia and other regions.
With the adoption of the regulatory framework in the field of organic farming, Russia will move from first initial stage of the development to the second stage - the formation of a civilized market.
A characteristic feature of this stage of the launch of the legal acts in the market, clearing from counterfeit products, the start of the rivalry on the market. In general, the organic agriculture in Russia lags behind all over the world for 10-15 years.
What concerns GMOs, the organic agriculture does not have any relation to it. In organic farming, GMO is not used in any way.
What are the goals and objectives of your organization?
The Union is an independent, not biased non-governmental organization in the field of organic farming. The main objective of the Union - the comprehensive development of the organic agriculture in Russia, improvement the economic situation of small and medium-sized forms of agricultural producers and the sustainable development of rural areas, aiming to improve the quality of life in rural areas.
Today the Union is the leading social platform for sharing knowledge and experiences, elaboration of consolidated decisions and coordinated activities in the field of sustainable development of organic agriculture in Russia.
There also exists the Expert Council at the Union, which includes leading scientists, experts, public figures. The Union is working closely with federal and regional authorities, is engaged in the promotion of healthy food, organic food, environmental protection among the population.