The Organic Initiative is a platform of key Ukrainian organic stakeholders, established in April 2020, which aims to contribute to organic sector development in Ukraine and promote organic trade on the domestic and international markets.
Since 24 February 2022, the beginning of active hostilities on the entire territory of Ukraine, we have been collecting the requests from Ukrainian organic producers for necessary aid and international partners willing to help the Ukrainian organic sector; we are continuing communication with organic market operators and planning to support them in these difficult times.
We consider it necessary to continue supporting the organic sector, which, being a part of the agri-food sector of Ukraine, affects food security as well as environment and biodiversity suffering from hostilities.
Current situation in the Ukrainian organic sector
Ukraine is a leading global supplier of agricultural products and plays an important role in ensuring a sustainable food system and global food security. Ukraine has the largest area in Europe (603.6 thou sq. km), a significant share of agricultural land (about 70% of the country’s total area), favourable geographical location and labour resources for farming.
Active development of organic production started at the beginning of 2000s; even then Ukraine was considered to be one of the important organic suppliers to the EU market. For many years Ukraine has been a reliable supplier of organic products and maintained its position during the COVID-19 pandemic when supply chains were disrupted. In recent years, Ukraine has been among TOP 5 leading suppliers of organic products to the EU.
Based on 2020 results, Ukraine ranked 4th among 123 countries by the volume of organic products imported to the EU, with the share of 7.8%.
In 2020, Ukraine exported 217,210 tons of organic products to the EU. The key product categories are cereals and oilseeds (the largest exporter to the EU), soybeans, honey, fruit and vegetables and the products of their processing. The total organic export from Ukraine in 2020 amounted to 332 thou tons and USD 204 mln1.
Since 24 February 2022 (the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine) the organic sector as well as the entire agrarian industry have been suffering from aggression.
The biggest problem in many regions is access to land. A significant share of organic agricultural land is situated in the battlefield or occupied:
- Kherson oblast (about 81.5 thou ha) – a leader by the area of organic agricultural land in Ukraine; the oblast is currently almost entirely occupied by the Russian troops;
- Zaporizhzhia oblast (about 44.5 thou ha);
- Kharkiv oblast (about 4 thou ha);
- Chernihiv oblast (about 10 thou ha).
In total, based on 2020 results, Ukraine had 462,225 ha of organic land (organic and in-conversion)2, i.e. the access is limited to at least 30% of land resources.
The results of the survey of the Ukrainian organic business3, carried out by Organic Ukraine NGO on 10-15 March 2022, shows the current situation as follows:
- 30% of operators claimed to have suspended their business with 15% being on the verge of it;
- 32% operate partially and only 7% have no changes;
- 15% of operators are giving their organic products to support the Ukrainian army and population, and some of them are selling their organic products at the price of conventional (without premium).
There is objective understanding that demand for organic products is very low, as there is a critical need for providing basic foodstuff to the Ukrainian population, supply chains have been disrupted, loyal consumers have moved, and there has been a rapid decline in the purchasing power. Meanwhile, some organic producers are continuing their operation and are not planning to abandon organic production. In particular, livestock complexes, i.e. dairy and meat production, poultry production, etc, are playing an important role.
We remain committed to the European Green Deal and stand on the position that organic production is one of the flagship initiatives in transition to sustainable agriculture in Ukraine.
At the time of war in Ukraine the EU is introducing new measures to strengthen food security. In particular, on 23 March the European Commission presented a range of short-term and medium-term actions to enhance global food security and to support farmers and consumers in the EU in light of rising food prices and input costs, such as energy and fertilisers, accelerated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The proposed measures are aimed at the agricultural supply chains becoming more resilient and sustainable in line with the Farm to Fork strategy.
Support to organic production in Ukraine and implementation of the measures provided for in the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies may ensure sustainability in general productivity of agriculture.
How to support the Ukrainian organic sector now
Some organic producers have organic products in stock which they are ready to sell and restore their production; some organic producers need support to export their products and find sales channels, because export has almost stopped with the beginning of hostilities and blocking seaport via which the majority of organic products used to be exported. Other organic producers are already going to the fields and starting spring soil cultivation in spite of existing problems with fuel in Ukraine.
Almost 70% of the surveyed producers need financial support – access to cheap credit, investments and/or dedicated support. 15% need support with export and 7% need support with promotion on the domestic market.
Domains in focus of the Organic Initiative and international support in the nearest time:
- Non-repayable financial assistance to organic producers:
- Financial assistance to the Ukrainian operators,
- A large-scale involvement of numerous organizations and private individuals to support the Ukrainian organic sector,
- Purchasing organic products from organic producers and passing them to the army, internally displaced persons, vulnerable population, etc,
- Compensation for the cost of organic certification,
- Support to organic producers who provide shelter for displace persons at their facilities.
- Support with access to plant protection products, fertilizers and other inputs permitted in organic production, seeds, and other support related to organic technologies.
- Support to the Organic Initiative’s coordination centre: legal and accounting advice, export consultancy, information support, etc.
- Support to the image of Ukraine and Ukrainian organic producers in the international arena via communication with mass media, organizations of international organic movement, international technical assistance projects and donor organizations.
Contacts for communication and support:
Immediate financial assistance to organic sector
Kateryna Shor, Information Centre “Green Dossier”, +380 67 440 5937 (WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Signal), +49 16 091 468 987 e-mail: email@example.com.
International cooperation and fundraising for organic sector
Olena Deineko, Director of Organic Business School, +48 573 816 280 (Poland), +380 050 944 1242 (Ukraine), +380 067 103 9694 (WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 Organic business here means operators, i.e. organic producers and processors, whose products were present in the Ukrainian retail chains till 24.02.2022. About 50 companies provided their responses.