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Country report - Czech Republic

by Andrea Hrabalova, Institute of Agricultural Economics and Information (IAEI)

This article was originally written for the publication "Organic in Europe", published by the IFOAM EU Group in collaboration with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Switzerland, and the Mediterranean Institute for Agronomic Research CIHEAM-IAM, Bari, Italy.

 

 

Key indicators 2012

  • Organic agricultural area: 488,658 hectares
  • Operators.
    • Organic producers: 3,934
    • Organic processors: 545
    • Organic importers: No data
    • Organic exporters: No data
  • Retail sales: EUR 66 million (2011)

Data: Institute of Agricultural Economics and Information (IAEI).

History of organic farming

  • 1993: The first national directive for organic farming, including an inspection and certification system, is established, and the national BIO label is introduced
  • 2001: Act No. 242/2000 on organic farming comes into force and the Ministry of Agriculture entrusts KEZ o.p.s. with inspection and certification
  • 2004: Support for organic farming is implemented as a part of agri-environmental measures within the Rural Development Plan (2004-2006); Action Plan for Organic Farming to 2010 is approved
  • 2006: New control bodies start to operate: ABCert AG and Biokont CZ
  • 2010: Action Plan for Developing Organic Farming in 2011-2015 is approved, and UKZUZ (Central Institute for Supervising and Testing in Agriculture) starts to carry out official statecontrols of organic farming

Key sector institutions

Production base: land use and key crops

Of the total organic agricultural area of 488,658 hectares (2012)

  • 83.1 % consists of permanent pasture and grazing areas,
  • 11.8 % arable land,
  • 1.6 % permanent crops, and
  • 3.5 % is given over to other uses (hedges, boundaries, landscape features, trees, avenues, etc.).

The key arable crops (2011) are

  • green fodder from arable land (25,500 hectares) and
  • cereals (24,400 hectares).

The key permanent crops (2011) are

  • fruit (6,300 hectares, 2,300 of which are apples),
  • grapes (1,000 hectares) and
  • hops (11 hectares).

Market

After a significant increase in the organic food market in 2005-2008, turnover has stagnated in recent years (increase in 2011 was 4.6 %). The share of organics in total food and beverage consumption remains below 1 %, and the average per capita consumption in 2011 did not rise above EUR 6. Even so, the Czech organic food market is one of the most advanced among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

  • Top-selling products: Milk and dairy products (19.6 %; EUR 13.0 million), baby food (16.0 %; EUR 10.6 million) and fruit and vegetables, including juice (13.6 %; EUR 9.0 million).
  • Market channels: General retailers (supermarkets/hypermarkets; 65 %), specialised shops with health and organic food (20 %), direct marketing, mainly from farms and other forms of direct sale (5 %), pharmacies (5 %), drugstores (3 %), independent small food shops (1 %), and gastronomy (1 %).
  • Exports and imports: In 2011, around 25 % (EUR 23 million) of the total turnover of Czech organic operators came from exports – mainly to Austria and other countries of the European Union (EU) not bordering the Czech Republic (estimated figures only).

The share of total organic consumption taken by imported organic foodstuffs is 46 % for processed food. This figure rises to 60 % if foodstuffs for further processing are included. The main import products are processed foodstuffs from Germany and Austria, mainly baby foods (more than 50 % of imports) and processed fruits and vegetables, including juice, coffee, tea, chocolates and non-alcoholic drinks.

Standards, legislation, organic logo

In the Czech Republic, organic farming has its own law (Act No. 242/2000 on organic farming), which came into force in 2001 and remains valid. Decree No. 16/2006 sets out the rules of usage for the national organic logo.
The Czech Republic has a national organic logo, the Bio zebra. There is a discussion on the future of the Czech logo. With the mandatory use of the organic logo of the EU, the two logos (national and EU) communicate the same information to the consumer. Therefore, it was decided that a national logo should be used only for domestic Czech organic food production.The realisation of this strategy is not finished yet.

Policy support

  • National action plan: The Action plan of the Czech Republic for the development of organic farming 2011-2015 (Akčni plan ČR pro rozvoj ekologickeho zemědělstvi v letech 2011-2015) runs from 2011 to 2015. It has six main targets, the first being to achieve a 15 % share of all agricultural land – including a minimum of 20 % of arable land – for organic farming. More information available at: http://eagri.cz/public/web/file/93837/Akcni_plan_2011_2015_EZ.pdf
  • Support under EU rural development programmes: Support for the establishment of organic farms was first made available as early as 1990–1992. State support for organic farming was renewed in 1998. Until 2003 it was provided on the basis of a government regulation that specified programmes to support non-productive functions of agriculture. Since 2004, support for organic farming has been provided under the agri-environmental measures of the EU rural development programme. Since 2007, companies registered in organic farming can also utilise their bonus points for further measures within Axes I and III, and they have a much greater chance of getting their projects approved and financed. Advice on organic farming issues is one of the areas supported under the measure Use of advisory services within Axis I.
  • Other policy support: Support from the Ministry of Agriculture for promotional and education events, such as the Organic Food Month, the Bioacademy Lednice, training for the staff of control bodies, participation in trade fairs, the printing of the Yearbook on Organic Farming (more information available at: www.eagri.cz/public/web/file/186838/Rocenka_EZ_2011_web.pdf) and other promotional materials, and the collection of organic farming data for Eurostat. Support is also available to NGOs (Bioinstitut, PRO-BIO Association, PRO-BIO League) and the Czech Technology Platform for Organic Agriculture.

Research & advice

Research on organic farming is provided in fragmentary form by several research institutions, universities and NGOs. There is no research institution with a focus purely on organic farming. To improve coordination in research, the Czech Technology Platform for Organic Agriculture was established at the end of 2009. The Institute of Agricultural Economics and Information (IAEI) is the institution responsible for organic farming data collection for the Ministry of Agriculture and for Eurostat.
Advisory services for organic farms are carried out by professional organisations (PRO-BIO Association and its regional centres, EPOS Association of Consultants in organic farming, Bioinstitut, etc.) and by private (accredited and non-accredited) advisors. The accredited advisors are listed in the Ministry of Agriculture’s register of consultants, and since 2007 the cost of seeking their agricultural advice has been reimbursable under measure 114 (Use of advisory services) of the Rural Development Programme. In 2011, there were 30 advisors accredited as organic farming consultants (of a total of 211 agricultural advisors), but only 10 of these are involved in organic farming full-time.

Challenges & outlook

One of the key challenges is the need to increase organic production and improve the availability of Czech organic processed foodstuffs. The low levels of production have been criticised, as organic farmland already makes up a large share of total agricultural land, and considerable subsidies are spent on organic farming.

Further information


For other relevant websites, see the section on key sector institutions.

Contact

Andrea Hrabalová
External consultant for Organic Food and Farming
Krymská 15, 625 00 Brno, Czech Republic
Tel. +420 737 852 515
ahrabal@no-spam.upcmail.cz