It is almost a myth; organic food is what our grandparents called Food. It might be, or maybe not. Naturally grown does not mean organic. The standards applied in agriculture, particularly bio standards, are an entirety of rules and specifications which define the precise conditions for production, processing, transport, certification and control of agricultural products.
The product is not organic, only because you purchase it in a farmer who swears he is selling fresh vegetables or fruits from the garden. It is crucial to have more information about the location of the farm or garden, where these products were grown, what has been used to fertilize the soil, is it polluted from waste deposited very close to the farm and in which way these products were transported to you.
Organic in Albania
Rich farmland, warm weather, mild climate and fertile soil make Albania an ideal source of organic production. Yet Albania’s organic sector is embryonic. Productivity in the sector is persistently low. The main problems are a scarcity of investment capital, outdated production methods and lack of information and access to markets. Nevertheless the organic sector in Albania is developing dynamically.
According to the World of Organic Agriculture - Statistics and Emerging Trends 2015 Report, Albania has 662 hectares of organic land with a share of 0.1% of the total agricultural land. According to the data published referred to 2013, in Albania there are 46 organic producers, 27 processors, 4 importers and 20 exporters. But the organic agricultural land in 2013 increased with 29% compared to 2012.
Data from World of Organic Agriculture - Statistics and Emerging Trends 2015 Report
The Bio certification is a crucial instrument for the Albanian farmers especially for their products’ exports. Yet they are sceptic. “Bio” does not exist” the owner of “Mrizi i Zanave” Farm in Lezha, Altin Prenga says for agroweb. Instead of organic I would rather use the terms natural, seasonal, fresh and local products so I’m fair enough with the costumer.
‘Organic is not sustainable, he says, explaining the main issues he considers as obstacles; lack of organic seeds, expensive cost for testing the product as organic and the fact that is impossible not to use any chemical pesticide to protect safe growing products.
The fact that Mr.Prenga does not export his farm’s products is another reason he maybe has no need yet for a bio certification. But exporters do.
In Albania there are 38 certified Organic Farms, according to the data available by Albinspekt for agroweb. Albinspekt, is the control body which secures a service of inspection and certification of the organic products, according to the national, private and European standards in Albania. Albinspekt provides services of inspection/certification and information, in accordance with the guidance and the methods of organic producing and is the certification body of 70% of the total certified companies in Albania.
Source : Albinspekt
According to the FiBL’s organic sector study, Albania’s organic sector has rapidly gained importance in these recent years (link). The success of organically certified wild collection is particularly impressive.
edicinal plants, chestnuts, mushrooms and wild berries are collected on nine per cent of the national territory. An innovative processing industry now specialises on refining these natural resources. This has major economic relevance for the development of rural areas. On the demand side, the domestic market is also expected to expand. Key incentives for converting to organic management come from Agriculture Ministry’s recently introduced financial support scheme for organic production, but also from the growing interest within Albania in healthy, locally produced food.
Despite several successful regional and international cooperation projects and the efforts of a few producers, organic products are sold in only a few specialty shops or markets. The producers' current inability to provide a wider range of products does create big differences on a seasonal basis and makes it hard to achieve large, organised distribution.
Increasing interest on the Albanian organics
‘Albania must be oriented toward organic agriculture’, the president of the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food of Germany, Hanns Christoph Eiden said during a recent agreement between Albania and Germany. According to him, there’s lots of potential in the German market for organic food.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, Edmond Panariti, Albania has a bright prospective for the growth of organic products as the country has around 200 high potential organic farms, but in order for them to export; they must also have international accreditation, in order to be recognized as such in foreign markets (link).
For the consumers it is becoming highly important having a detailed knowledge of the products. That is why they are predisposed to search for products which have been cultivated naturally, have been grown using organic products and have been processed and transported according to the criteria, defined by the responsible institutions.
To trade in a European and international market, where customers are informed and quality oriented, the Albanian Farmers will have to take the necessary measures to fulfil the requests and expectations and to get the necessary certificates. Organic either natural you have to prove it.