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Country report - Lithuania 2012

by Prof. Dr. Vytautas Pilipavicius

Recent developments

The certified organic area in Lithuania has grown from 42,955 hectares in 2004 to 162,655 hectares in 2012. This substantial increase was promoted by the rural development programmes (2004-2006 and 2007-2013) of the Lithuanian government and the European Union after Lithuania joined the EU in 2004.

The share of organically farmed land was 5.5% of the total agricultural area in 2012.

History

In order to develop organic agriculture in Lithuania, the necessary documents/resolutions of the government and an ecological-organic programme  started in 1987.The initiative of the professors of the Lithuanian Academy of Agriculture (later Lithuanian University of Agriculture and since 2011 Aleksandras Stulginskis University) and farmers established the Lithuanian Association of Organic Agriculture “Gaja” in 1990. Gaja promoted organic agriculture, prepared the first standards for organic farming, and provided an advisory service as well as certification for organic agriculture.In 1993, the Lithuanian government established a non-profit organization, the foundation “Tatula” (since 1997 “Tatula program”) to implement the ecological program [WH1], a programme dedicated to the ecologically sensitive karst region in North Lithuania (Karst topography is a landscape formed through the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum.).

As required by international certification standards for organic agriculture, the independent public body “Ekoagros” was founded in 1997. Gaja was no longer responsible for organic certification as the same organization cannot be active both as a sector organisation and a certification body.

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Current statistics: Organic land

From 2004 until 2012, the organic agricultural area in Lithuania increased almost fourfold to 162,655 hectares in 2012. However, the highest increase in organic area was between 2004 to 2010. Since then, growth has been more slow and balanced. The increase of organically certified agricultural area from 2010 to 2011 was 8899 hectares (+5.9%), and, from 2011 to 2012, the organic area increased by 4660 hectares (+-2.9%).

The organic share of the total agricultural land was 5.2% in 2010, 5.4% in 2011, and 5.5% in 2012.

Current statistics: Organic farms

Other than the organic land, the number of organic farms tended to decrease since 2007. While there were 2855 organic farms in 2007, there were 2511 farms in 2012. The decrease of the number of organic farms and the increase of the total certified organic area led to an increase of the average farm size (including the areas of aquaculture farms) of certified organic farms to 64 ha in 2012.

Land use, productivity and animal husbandry

The most common crops in Lithuanian organic agriculture are cereals (oats, rye, spring and winter wheat, barley) and, in farms with animal husbandry, perennial grassland. In organic farms without animal husbandry, permanent grassland is absent as there are no subsidies for permanent grassland. Leguminous crops constitute 10 percent of the cropland. Organic vegetables and permanent crops, such as orchards and small fruit plants, are less popular for growers even though consumer demand for these crops is high.

In total, 76,693 tons of organic cereals were produced in 2011. A total of 26,614 tons of oilseed rape and protein crops were produced in 2011. Of vegetables, 669 tons were harvested while potatoes yielded 3684 tons in 2011.

The highest number of certified organic livestock farms was reached in 2012. There were 888 livestock farms, and they constituted 35% of the total certified organic farms. The main livestock types are dairy cows, beef, sheep, poultry, and pigs. In organic farming, on average, a cow produced 5.52 tons of milk (2011 data), while in conventional farming 4.90 tons of milk per cow was produced. Thus, the productivity of organic milk cows was 12.6 percent higher. Organic fish production as well as different types of organic apiculture products were also popular.

Processing and marketing

There were 94 enterprises and farms engaged in the processing and marketing of organic products. The activities of organic processing enterprises in 2013 focused on:

  • Grain storage and trading (19 enterprises)
  • Processing (drying, tea production) of medicinal and potherbs (14 enterprises)
  • Wholesale (14 enterprises)
  • Processing of grain products (12 enterprises)
  • Milk procurement and processing (7 enterprises),
  • Marketing of  vegetables (6 enterprises),
  • Marketing of  fruit, berries and mushrooms (6 enterprises),
  • Public catering (4 enterprises),
  • Seed packing and marketing (3 enterprises),
  • Animal slaughtering and meat processing of meat products (3 enterprises)
  • Fish processing (3 enterprises).
  • Oil production for human consumption (2 enterprises).

Further activities of Lithuanian organic processing enterprises include the production of spices, chocolate products, tomato sauce,mayonnaise, infant food, and dumplings. Dumplings are a special Lithuanian food. Lithuanian dough dumplings are called "koldūnai" and "virtiniai". There are also potato dumplings called "cepelinai" or "didžkukuliai", filled with meat or curd inside, served with sour cream.
The first certificate for organic imports from third countries was issued in 2013. At the end of the year 2013, four importers were certified (in 2014: 6) that imported, for instance, cranberries, from Belarus and the Ukraine, or coconut oil from Sri Lanka.



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Organic farming organisations

The organic sector is represented by the Lithuanian Association of Organic Agriculture “Gaja”, which was founded in December 1990 (officially registered on 18th July, 1991).  It is a professional organisation for organic producers and other supporters of organic agriculture. Information is available on their homepage, http://www.lgi.lt/gaja/.

The organic sector, especially in the north of Lithuania, is supported by the non-profit organization, Tatula (“Tatulos Programa”). The Tatula program has 183 shareholders (farmers, companies, etc.). Their activities (since 1995) include, for instance, the organisation of eco fairs and markets.
Tatula is involved in the following programmes:

  • Lithuanian Environmental Strategy Action Programme Implementation Strategy for the United Nations Convention on Climate Change
  • Biological Diversity Strategy Strategy for Development of Protected Areas
  • The Law on Agrarian Farming and Rural Area
  • Development of the Republic of Lithuania Rural Support Program of the Ministry of Agriculture
  • Special Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (SAPARD (2000-2006). For information on SPARD see
    europa.eu/legislation_summaries/agriculture/enlargement/l60023_en.htm
  • National Rural Development Plan for 2004-2006 and General Programming Instrument for 2004-2006

Information about the Tatula programme can be found at http://www.organic.lt/en/

 

 

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Certification

The control bodies are accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture. In Lithuania organic farms and further operators are certified by the public body, Ekoagros, established in 1997. At the moment, it is the only body that certifies organic agriculture in Lithuania. Its headquarters is in Kaunas, and there are branch offices in Utena and Telšiai.  Information is available at their homepage http:/www.ekoagros.lt/

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Training and advice

The Lithuanian organic sector does not have a specialized advisory service devoted to organic agriculture. Therefore, the Lithuanian Agricultural Advisory Service works for both conventional and organic agriculture. The advisory service consults farmers in many aspects of organic farming and organizes trainings and field days.  Information is available at their homepage http://www.lzukt.lt/
The training courses for farmers are administrated by the Centre for the LEADER Programme and Agricultural Training Methodology under the Ministry of Agriculture.
The main objectives of the centre are to:

  • Organize vocational training, education and outreach activities targeting farmers, local action groups, rural communities and other rural development actors.
  • Improve the qualifications of people employed in agricultural and rural development sector.

During 2008-2013 more than 5700 farmers interested in organic agriculture were trained (in more than 12 organic training courses). Compulsory trainings on „Background of organic agriculture (for beginners)" for new organic farmers were delivered to about 2200 participants.
The tasks of the educational course programme „Background of organic agriculture“ is to convey to farmers scientifically and practically validated recommendations on organic agriculture, to provide background on organic production and to acquaint them with the main requirements of organic agriculture. Information is available at their homepage
http://www.zmmc.lt/en/about-us.html.

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Research

There are two main research institutions that have activities within organic agriculture:

At both institutions organic research is carried out on organic certified plots.

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Legislation

The main document regulating organic agriculture in Lithuania is, "Regulations of Organic Agriculture: production, processing, realization and marking,” which is continuously improved and renewed.

It is in conformity with Council Regulation (EC) No. 834/2007 amended by (EU) No. 1030/2013, which has set up a comprehensive framework for the organic production of crops and livestock and for the labelling, processing, and marketing of organic products, while also governing imports of organic products into the EU. The detailed rules for the implementation of this Regulation are laid down in Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 amended by the implementing regulation (EU) No 392/2013.

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Support for organic agriculture

Lithuanian organic farmers can receive financial support according to one of the  „Agrarian environmental protection “programmes, as for instance „Organic agriculture“. The task of the programme is to support organic agriculture as a system that secures the production of high quality products with good perspectives on the market.
Support for organic agriculture is provided only for the organically certified area. Payments depend on type of crop:

  • for cereals 742 Lt ha-1,
  • for vegetables and potatoes 1519 Lt ha-1
  • for medicinal herbs 1688 Lt ha-1,
  • for berries and orchards - 1781 Lt ha-1
  • permanent  grassland and meadows (only if there is certified organic livestock on farm) – 438 Lt ha-1
  • (Note. 1 Lt = 0.290 €; 1 € = 3.4528 Lt.).

An individual organic farm can obtain a maximum support of 400 thousand litas (2007-2013 programming period).
To enhance the impact of organic farming on the market, the actual production for the market is compulsory. Realization of organic production needs to be proven with relevant documentation. Only then financial support is provided for organic farms in the form of subsidies.

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Further reading

  • Agriculture in Lithuania 2012 (2013). Statistics Lithuania under the Government of the Repuplic of Lithuania. Publication prepared by the Agriculture and Environment Statistics Division. ISSN 2029-3658. Vilnius. 64 p.Organic crop production and horticulture: vocational training study material for counsellors of organic agriculture in Baltic States. Compiled by A. Motuzas, V. Pilipavičius, V. Butkus. Akademija, Kaunas distr. Lietuvos žemės ūkio universitetas, 2006. 111 p. ISBN  995544844X. http://www.asu.lt/tracoecobalt/files/outgrowth/books/lzuu_en/index.htm
  • Pilipavicius V., Grigaliunas A. (2014) Lithuanian organic agriculture in the context of European Union. In organic agriculture. Rijeka: In Tech, 2014. ISBN 980-953-307-1113-6. http://www.intechopen.com/ (in press)
  • Regulations of Organic Agriculture (2013) / Ekologinio žemės ūkio taisyklės (2013). Valstybės žinios. LR žemės ūkio ministro 2000 gruodžio 28 d. įsakymas Nr. 375 (LR žemės ūkio ministro įsakymo Nr.222, Nr.190, Nr.3D–253, 3D–324, 254, 284, 3D–436, 3D–82, 3D–156, 3D–368, 3D–391, 3D–61, 3D 199, 3D–11, 3D–496, 3D–695, 3D–717, 3D–876, 3D-348, 3D-11 (2013 05 16 actual edition).
  • Statistics Lithuania (2014). Statistikos departamentas prie LRV (2014). M5010302: Agricultural crops in country / Žemės ūkio augalai šalyje. Available from: <http://db1.stat.gov.lt/statbank/default.asp?w=1280 

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Websites

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Country report from "Organic in Europe"

Short country report about organic farming in Lithuania, originally written for the publication "Organic in Europe" by by Virgilijus Skulskis, Lithuanian Institute of Agrarian Economics (LIAE).