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Country report - Romania

by Boldizsar Megyesi, Hetfa Research Institute and Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Centre for Social Studies (HAS-RCSS)

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: 288,261 hectares (In addition there are 1,082,138 hectares of wild collection areas.)
  • Operators:
    • Organic producers: 15,315
    • Organic processors: 105
    • Organic importers: 3
    • Organic exporters: no data
  • Retail sales: EUR 80 million (2011)

Area and operator indicatros data: Eurostat , Ministry of Agriculture MADR Romania; Market data: BCG-Global Advisors (2013) Romanian Organic Sector – Business Insight Booklet. The data were collected for work on the institutional development of organic agriculture in Romania, financed by the Bulgarian-Swiss Research Programme (BSRP) of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), project Addressing socio-economic regional disparities: the potential of organic farming for strengthening rural areas in Bulgaria (IZEBZO_142974).

History of organic farming

  • 1997: The first association of organic farming is founded – the Bioterra Association.
  • 2000: The first national legislation on organic farming is implemented (Emergency Ordinance of the Government O.U.G nr. 34 / 2000, followed by Law 38/2001).
  • 2001: The Bureau for Organic Farming (ANPE) at the Ministry of Agriculture (MADR) is established.
  • 2004: The first inspection and certification organisation, SC Ecoinspect, is founded.
  • 2005 - 2012: Several control bodies are established.
  • 2010: A conversion subsidy for farmers is established according to the Government’s decision 759/2010. This is intended to improve the quality of agricultural products

Key sector institutions

Production base: Land use and key crops

In 2012, of the 288,261 hectares of agricultural land

  • 166,806 hectares (57.8 %) were arable land,
  • 105,836 hectares (36.7 %) were permanent grassland and grazing areas, and
  • 7,783 hectares (1.8 %) were permanent crops.

The main arable crop groups were

  • cereals (106,149 hectares),
  • green fodder from arable land (11,083 hectares) and
  • oilseeds (43,923 hectares).

The main permanent crop groups were

  • fruit (4,668 hectares),
  • grapes (1,649 hectares), and
  • berries (327 hectares).

Market

The Romanian organic sector is highly export-oriented. In the last three years, conversion subsidies have made organic farming more attractive, leading to strong growth in the certified area.

There is little consumer awareness regarding organic quality among Romanians, who are rarely willing to pay a premium for certified organic products. Control organisations report that neither food processors nor consumers ask for certified products, even if they buy and use organic produce. There is a wide-spread assumption that home-grown products are in fact organic products.

  • Top-selling products: Cereals (wheat and maize), vegetables, honey and wine. (More information available from: BCG-Global Advisors (2013))
  • Market channels: Box-schemes, farmers' markets, specialised shops and supermarkets.
  • Exports and imports: It is generally acknowledged that the main driving force for the organic sector is the export market, plus, to some extent, the growing demand for healthy food among the wealthier middle class. The main export products are cereals, and collected wild mushrooms and berries. The main import products are processed food.

Standards, legislation, organic logo

EU legislation on organic farming and other regulations apply. The first national legislation on organic farming - the Emergency Ordinance of the Government O.U.G nr. 34/2000 - was issued in 2000. This was followed by Law 38/2001 in 2001. The legislation is up-to-date and follows EU Regulation (EC) No 834/2007. Organic producers must be certified by one of the registered control bodies. There is a national logo for organic products, which is owned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. It can be used for products that comply with the Romanian Organic legislation.

Policy support

  • National action plan: An action plan ran from 2004 to 2008: the Sustainable development strategy for the agriculture and food industry 2004-2008 MADR (Strategia de dezvoltare durabila a agriculturii si alimentatiei 2004-2008 – MADR). Work on a new strategy/action plan is currently in progress.
  • Support under EU rural development programmes: Subsidies for certified organic farmers are available through the agri-environmental measures of the National Rural Development Plan (Programul National de Dezvoltare Rurala). The first subsidies for organic agriculture appeared in 2004. Between 2005 and 2007 subsidies for organic agriculture were available through the SAPARD programme as agri-environmental support. Since 2007, there have been subsidies from a number of EU funds. Until 2011, no support was available for conversion to organic farming. As the strong growth in the area of organically farmed land and the number of producers shows, the conversion subsidies were attractive. However, they did not often bring about a sustainable change, with many farmers quitting organic farming when they realised the support was less than they expected.
  • Other policy support: The organic sector is specifically named in Romania’s export strategy.

Research & advice

The main institutions conducting research in organic farming are the National Agricultural Research and Development Institute (NARDI) and the Research Station for Vegetables Bacau (Statiunea de Cercetare Dezvoltare pentru Legumicultura Bacau) www.legumebac.ro.

A number of private sector organisations offer advice to farmers: the Bioterra Association and the Romanian Association for Sustainable Agriculture (ARAD) are especially active in promoting organic agriculture. Eco-Ruralis, www.ecoruralis.ro/web/en/ promotes the values associated with organic farming, as well as food sovereignty and direct producer-consumer links.

Challenges & Outlook

The challenges include in consistencies in compensatory payments from the national government as well as concerns GMO regarding adequate protection form GMO crosscontamination. The development and continued growth of large-scale farms reflects the ongoing challenges facing small to medium sized farms. Finally, the expansion of industrial and mining activities in mountain areas also poses a challenge to organic agriculture in Romania.

Further information

For other relevant websites, see the sections on key sector institutions and research & advice.

Contact

Boldizsár Megyesi
Hétfa Research Institute and Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Centre for Social Studies (HAS-RCSS)
Október 6. St. 19. IV/2
1051 Budapest
Hungary
megyesiboldizsar@no-spam.hetfa.hu

www.hetfa.hu