Relevant representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture from 7 countries from SEE, representatives from National Associations of Organic producers and appointed members from the recently established Balkan Organic Network – BON, jointly discussed the current situation in the organic agriculture in the region with specific focus to trade procedures and recognition of national organic certificates between the SEE Countries.
Being introduced with the current EU legislation related to the Organic Production and Trade as well as with the requirements for labeling and marketing of organic products in the region, the participants agreed that the regional cooperation/network between the SEE countries on their way to EU integration (potential candidates and candidate countries) is crucial. They concluded that improved regional cooperation, aiming to protect the competitive values which are in favour to the Organic agricultural production and to create sustainable market for organic products is an appropriate tool to stimulate the development of the organic agriculture in the Region.
The following are some concrete proposals and next steps which need to be undertaken for future facilitation of the regional cooperation in trade (but also in organization, research, extension, biodiversity and environmental protection) with Organic products between SEE countries:
- Establishment and Institutionalization of a coordination body to support and develop the initiative for regional cooperation in the Organic sector is necessary!
- NGO and business sector should have crucial role in the initiation and realization of the initiative through strong lobbying in front of the National authorities
- The existing cooperation between the departments for Organic Agriculture in the decision making institutions (Ministries of agriculture on the first place) and their cooperation with NGO-s, private/business sector, research, advisory institutions and other stakeholders is a benefit which needs to be further strengthened
- Bilateral and multilateral agreements for trade/exchange with organic products (following the CEFTA example) need to be signed between non EU member countries from the SEE region
- List of Certification Bodies working in the region – accredited by the National or International bodies and with national authorisation need to be prepared
- Positive examples from the region (case of Bulgarian producers selling OP in the region), “open door” for import of OP (case of Serbia) etc, should be analysed
- All kinds of media need to be involved in order to promote the idea for regional cooperation in the Organic Agriculture
- A web-site to support the exchange of all information and networking in the sector should be created
- The participants of the TD will meet again in March 2012 during the International conference on Organic Agriculture in Sarajevo
At the end, the participants expressed their highest appreciation for the support provided by the SWG through the SWG – GIZ/ORF project “Improving the competitiveness of companies and organizations from South-eastern Europe in the agricultural and food sector through the implementation of food quality standards and increased regional networking” through which the TD was realized.
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