The term â€śorganic agricultureâ€ť was first used by Lord Northbourne in his book â€śLook to the Landâ€ť, published in 1940. It is based on his concept the farm as an organism, and denotes a holistic, ecologically balanced approach to agricultural production, contrary to what he called â€śchemical agricultureâ€ť (artificial fertility that does not represent an organic whole).
Organic production is increasingly becoming the chosen method of production, and the first choice of consumers. That is why it is important to establish a wholesome and sustainable system of organic production. It is necessary to regulate this area in FBiH, in order to have regulations on organic production, rules on labeling organic products, a regulated market with official registries, a system for control and oversight and labeling of organic products.
Another proof of how necessary it is to develop the policy and law on organic production in FBiH, is the conclusion from the session of the Council of Ministers held on December 8, 2014, wherein competent ministries are recommended to continue developing legislation regulating the area of organic production in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and its harmonization with the regulations of the EU.
This law would regulate the production of agricultural and other products through using methods of organic production, methods, control, and certification in organic production, processing, labeling, storing, transporting, trade, importing and exporting organic products, and other issues relevant to organic production.
It is also important to note that many EU member states recognized the potential of organic production, which affected both their quality of life and agricultural output. Many countries, such as Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Ireland, increased the surface of arable land and plant nurseries; therefore, this law might help address the problems we have with unutilized arable land, especially with regards to growing medicinal plants and cereal crops, areas where Slovenia, Ireland and the Czech Republic are the largest producers, participating with more that 90%. Because the law was well implemented, the number of producers increased over the last decade by up to 9% in many countries, and the surface of arable plots of land in the Czech Republic increased from 89 to 239 in a very short time span, etc.
Developing new technologies in agriculture increases the productivity and efficiency of production, and reduces the use of energy and natural resources. Technological development is reflected in improved economic performance: efficiency, i.e. producing the same volume with fewer expenses, or, to put it succinctly â€śdoing things betterâ€ť; effectiveness, i.e. â€śdoing the right thingsâ€ť, results expressed in absolute units, e.g. BAM/kg. Organic production calls for a social consensus. Increased investments pay off only after the product has been launched on the market, and after attracting consumers aware of the potential health hazards of consuming food produced in extremely commercialized systems. The most important issue is the guarantee of quality, which would be facilitated with the passing of this law.
Also important besides measurable economic effects is: taking into consideration the culture, habits, and buying power of customers; strengthening the creative potentials of producing and launching products of higher quality; professional training for employees, initiating business cooperation with institutions in the region and strengthening the profile of cooperation and associations of producers. Universally acknowledged criteria for evaluating the effects of agricultural production are: originality; added value; return on investment; coherence with current activities; creativity and innovation; increased market participation; planned cash flow and cost-effectiveness.
Another reason for introducing this law is to incentivise rural households. There are 500,000 of such households in BiH, out of which 150,000 are registered as agricultural producers. However, data shows that more than 30% of homesteads with such potential have been abandoned. Realistically speaking, this is so because youth are abandoning rural areas in favor of cities, where jobs are scarce, whereas in rural areas they could have a significant and stable source of income, resulting in less unemployed persons and an increase in potential in FBiH and the rest of BiH. Strategic products, very important on the market are milk, cheese, wheat, buckwheat and different type of meat products, all of which should be substantially incentivised, because that approach would address and permanently reduce unemployment, thus preventing the population from leaving the country, as well as preventing extreme urbanization which adversely affects the quality of life.
Different experiences from around the world are prompting us to try and regulate this area, because doing so will improve the quality of life and income in every segment, since a US-based study spanning two decades (1982-2002) showed that organic farm use 50% less fertilizer, 99% less pesticide and save up to 53% energy. Summer crops during unpredictable droughts has 20%-40% higher yields than in conventional production, and natural disasters have less of a devastating effect on organic crops. It is also worth noting that the unemployment rate in some EU member state decreased, while the surface of arable land and income increased, making the EU one of the leaders in organic production, with 29%, with a continued growth trend. It must also be said that the 2001 organic product market was worth only 20 billion, whereas in 2012 it reached 63 billion worldwide.
Experience and statistics show that if we adopt and implement the law in time, thus protecting out production, decreasing unemployment and providing a long-term effect on our economy, it would constitute a turning point in our society, because our country has potential and a comparative advantage in this sector.
Rural communities do not have vocational high schools because of high expenses that are not justified by the number of potential students attending the school. Most high school students go to school in nearby cities, outside their communities. This is an important aspect of social influence, if we consider the fact that mostly younger persons engage in agricultural production in EU member states, while conventional and integral production is mostly the domain of older generations. Young people with potential are leaving rural areas in FBiH, in search of a stable, structured community. This is often a problem when families cannot afford such education. All of it contributes to making rural life unattractive to youth and entrepreneurs who would invest in organic production. The National report on human development for 2013 â€śRural development in Bosnia and Herzegovina â€“ Myth and Realityâ€ť, among other things, states that FAOSTAT data shows a migration of rural population, from 60% in 1989 to 51% in 2010, still a significant percentage. The same source states that the percentage of rural population dropped by 10-11% during 21 years, i.e. in 1989 in the Western Balkans, 54% of the population lived in rural areas, while the most recent data estimate the percentage at slightly over 45%. (pg 60). In August and September, 2011, The Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports of the Government of RS conducted the Survey on the position and needs of youth in rural areas. The goal of this programme was strengthening the standard of living of youth in rural areas, and examining the respondentsâ€™ attitudes on issues of employment, familial relations, rural life, education, mobility, social status and leisure. The research was conducted in several rural areas in the municipalities Mrkonji?-Grad, Trebinje, Vlasenica, Bosanska GradiĹˇka and Bosansko Petrovo Selo. Respondents were 18-30 years old. Approximately one half (50.5%) finished high school. 22% are still in college, 9.1% finished college, and 12.7% are still in high school. The biggest problems they mentioned were youth unemployment, general poverty and corruption, financial dependence on parents. Results of the research show that most respondents in rural areas (83%) would leave BiH, whether permanently or for a shorter or longer period. At the moment in FBiH there is not official source of information, which would provide credible data on the number of young persons working in organic production. Data provided by certification organisations, available online, do not offer information on certified producers, nor an age-based analysis. There are excellent prerequisites for preferential treatment of youth in development plans. In some cases, EU member states tried to provide youth with preferential treatment when it comes to other priorities as well. Preferential treatments in EU policies ensure a balanced allocation of public funds and resources, and provides all groups with equal opportunities, as required by the European Convention on Human Rights (non-discrimination) and documents specific to each development sector.
An example of preferential treatment is the Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EPFRR), Section 1: Measures aimed at promoting knowledge and improving human potential, Article 22: Setting up of young farmers â€“ providing support to persons who are less than 40 years of age and are setting up for the first time on an agricultural holding as head of the holding, possess adequate occupational skills and competence, and submit a business plan for the development of their farming activities. The amount of financial support for setting up farmers is 55,000 Euros.
The legal framework should stipulate ways of introducing and promoting an increased involvement of women and youth, as well as introducing information technologies in promoting and selling organic products, especially with regards to a more active involvement of women and youth in organic production and sales. One way of achieving this is defining a minimum percentage of women and youth participating in funded programs as one of the criteria. Preferably, there should also be a system for overseeing and evaluating the efficiency of these measures, with an appropriate database.
Since organic production started developing, the EU has seen continuous growth of economic indicators relating to organic products, and uses different measures to actively influence the society, ensuring that marginalized groups such as women and youth are motivated to engage in organic production. This begs the question of the future role of BiH and the Federation of BiH in the process of developing organic production in Europe.
By reviewing the key characteristics of the rapidly expanding organic agriculture in the EU, policy-makers in FBiH can note priority areas to ensure that FBiH is in step with the EU trends.
Developing the policy and law on organic production in FBiH is supported by the USAID Project Strengthening Governing Processes and Institutions (SGiP).