Science - April 11, 1996

Organic agriculture in Poland

Organic agriculture in Poland

Count Karlowski was the first in Poland to introduce organic farming, when he converted his estate to a biodynamic farm in 1931," explains Sylwia Zakowska-Biemans. In a guest lecture on March 25 at the Department of Ecological Agriculture she elaborated on the history and present state of affairs of organic agriculture in Poland. Zakowska-Biemans is a teacher assistant at the Department of Ecological Methods of Food Production from Warsaw Agricultural University.

In 1986 the department of ecological food production was established and three years later scientists together with farmers, who were in favour of ecological farming, founded EKOLAND. The organisation now operates nine regional centres, which provide information and training to promote organic food production. EKOLAND acts as the national certification body which checks that food production is in accordance with international standards for ecological agriculture. By 1994, 235 farms, covering an area of 5,000 hectares held certificates from EKOLAND.

According to Zakowska-Biemans Polish agricultural policy is strongly influenced by modernization paradigms and not very supportive of ecological production. Furthermore, there are no subsidies available and interest rates on loans are as high as 30%. Infrastructure in the rural areas is poor, which leads to high distribution costs. Zakowska-Biemans believes that there certainly is a market for ecological products in Poland: Food in Poland is expensive anyway. The fact that there is little difference in price between conventional products and ecological products is an advantage to the sector."

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