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Country report Portugal 2011

Catarina Crisóstomo

The present report is adapted from the author’s MSc thesis “Organic Farming Policy Network in Portugal”. This thesis was produced within the framework of the Masters course in Mediterranean Organic Agriculture at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (IAMB): part of the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM). The study was conducted in the 2010-2011 academic year under the supervision of Patrizia Pugliese (IAMB), Marie-Reine Bteich (IAMB), and Heidrun Moschitz (FiBL).

Update: Organic farming in Portugal 2013


Organic farming in Portugal has developed considerably since its beginnings in 1985. In 2010, there were 2,434 organic farms cultivating 210,981 hectares, corresponding to 6 percent of the total agricultural land. Growth has been triggered by the introduction and direct application of EU regulations concerning organic standards and financial support since 1993, and the area-based support for organic farming is currently maintained under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.

However, the organic support scheme has been closed to new entrants since the beginning of 2011 and, although rapid growth is expected, the market share for organic produce is still small (0.2 percent of the total food market in 2010).

In order to sustain the future growth of organic agriculture, a national organic action plan is currently being developed by the organic farming community.

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History and development of organic farming in Portugal

Organic farming in Portugal first became formalized with the foundation in 1985of AGROBIO: the Portuguese organic farming association. At that time, AGROBIO created its own set of organic production standards, established a formal certification procedure, and developed its own organic label. Later, in 1995, AGROBIO outsourced inspection and certification, as EN 45011 determined that these activities were incompatible with giving advice and providing consultancy services. Nowadays, it remains a highly active organisation in promoting and practically implementing organic farming and consumption.

As organic farming became an instrument of agricultural policy, in the end of the 1980s, the Portuguese government officially recognized organic farming: integrating it within a state department responsible for all the food quality schemes. Over time, this department has had different names and has been part of different public agencies: from 1989 to 1992: IQA - Instituto de Qualidade Alimentar (Food Quality Institute); from 1993 to 1996: IMAIAA - Instituto dos Mercados Agrícolas e da Indústria Agro-Alimentar (Agricultural Markets and Agro-Food Industry Institute); from 1997 to 2002: DGDR - Direcção Geral do Desenvolvimento Rural (Directorate-Generale for Rural Development); from 2003 to 2006: IDRHA - Instituto de Hidráulica, Engenharia Rural e Ambiente (Institute for Rural Development and Hydraulics).

However, since 2006, an interlocking set of public agencies has been involved in organic farming, headed by DVQ/GPP (Quality Valorisation Unit of Bureau of Planning and Policies). DVQ/GPP is the Competent Authority for the purpose of Regulation (EC) 834/2007.

Between 1985 and 1992, the number of certified organic farmers grew slowly, with growth accelerating after the implementation of Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91 in 1993 and the introduction of support payments for organic farming under the agri-environmental measures established by Regulation (EEC) 2078/92 at the end of 1994.

Boosted by RURIS, the Rural Development Programme 2000-2006, the number of organic farms and the area of organic land continued to rise until 2007. Afterwards, these figures started to decline; probably due to the strict eligibility requirements of the organic support scheme and the competition of alternative agri-environmental options available under PRODER, the current Rural Development Programme 2007-2013. Finally, in 2010, the Portuguese organic production sector reacted and reversed this trend.

During the past decade, in parallel to the development of the organic farming sector, the number of organic farmers’ associations and private companies offering specialized technical support also increased. Today, there are eight officially recognized private organisations that carry out organic inspection and certification in Portugal.

Another landmark in the history of the national organic farming movement was the creation of INTERBIO (Inter-professional Organic Farming Association) in 2005. As its name suggests, INTERBIO gathers professionals from the whole organic agri-food chain and aims to be the organic sector’s umbrella organisation.


In the last few years, the organic sector has managed to gain increased political support from the Ministry of Agriculture:

  • INTERBIO, along with the main general farming organisations, was invited to represent the farmers’ interests at the Technical Committee for the Evaluation of Agri-Environmental Measures of PRODER 2007-2013 created in 2008.
  • Although it never materialized, the Portuguese agricultural minister and the Spanish environmental minister signed the “Iberian Agreement for Sustainability and Development of Organic Farming”, also in 2008.
  • In 2009, the EU-funded School Fruit Scheme programme was implemented with an additional eligibility clause stating that at least 50 percent of fruits and vegetables provided should be certified quality products (organic included).
  • In 2010, the Minister of Agriculture formed the “Agriculture and Rural Development Advisory Committee”, and AGROBIO and INTERBIO were invited to represent alternately the organic farming organisations.
  • In 2011, the Portuguese State formally joined the Mediterranean Organic Agriculture Network (MOAN), which is coordinated by the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute in Bari (IAMB), Italy.
  • In 2012, a delegation of the Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture attended BioFach for the first time.

However, Portugal has not yet implemented a national organic action plan. An organic action plan was published in May 2004, but, due to a change of government eight months later, it was never put into practice.

In the beginning of 2011, INTERBIO took the initiative of drafting a new organic action plan and started a round of talks with the Ministry of Agriculture, political parties, and organic farming sector representatives to promote the plan. This initiative raised the formal interest of the agricultural ministry, and DVQ/GPP organised a meeting to discuss this document and its further development. In the meantime, a new government took office, and, by the end of the year, a conference organised by INTERBIO on the future national organic farming policy was attended by officials from the agricultural ministry and foreign experts (Otto Schmid of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Switzerland, and Nicolas Lampkin (The Organic Research Centre Elm Farm, UK). Finally, and coinciding with the next financial framework for 2014-2020, it appears that the process of a national organic action plan is ready to be brought to a successful conclusion.

In spite of the determinant impact of EU support policies on the development of Portuguese organic farming, the domestic organic food market, although very small, has been growing continually since the early 1990s and more remarkably over recent years.

The first shop in Portugal selling exclusively organic food dates back to 1991. This shop opened in the premises of AGROBIO, in Lisbon, and soon (in 1993) became a more formal structure, with the foundation of BIOCOOP, the Organic Agriculture Products Consumers Cooperative. More recently, there has been an increase of the number of small and medium-sized specialized organic retailers at the national level.
In 2004, AGROBIO inaugurated the first open air organic market in Lisbon, an initiative that successfully spread all over the country.

Since 1993, organic products can also be found in conventional supermarkets located in the main cities and, from the middle of the last decade, the organic product range and volume has increased visibly.

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Milestones in the history of organic farming in Portugal

Themilestones in the history of organic farming in Portugal can be briefly summarized as follows:

  • 1985: Creation of AGROBIO, one of the most important national organic farming organisations.
  • 1989: Integration of organic farming in the state structure – IQA (Instituto de Qualidade Alimentar / Food Quality Institute).
  • 1993: Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91 came into force; BIOCOOP, a cooperative of organic products consumers, was formed in Lisbon.
  • 1994: Area-based support for organic farming granted under the agri-environmental measures established by Regulation (EEC) No. 2078/92.
  • 1995: SOCERT (rooted in the French ECOCERT) became the first private inspection body officially recognized to certify organic products.
  • 1999: AGROSANUS, the first exclusively organic consulting firm, was launched.
  • 2000: Regulation (EC) No. 1804/99 was implemented; SATIVA, a new private inspection body, was approved.
  • 2001: RURIS (RDP 2000-2006) continued provision of support payments for organic farming under the agri-environmental Regulation (EC) No. 1257/99; Foundation of AGRIDIN, the national biodynamic association.
  • 2003: Most of the regional organic farmers associations emerged during this and the following year; CERTPLANET increased the list of organic inspection bodies to three.
  • 2004: A national organic action plan was published but never implemented; Inauguration of the first organic farmers market in Lisbon; Approval of two other inspection bodies for organic production.
  • 2005: Creation of INTERBIO, a new national organic farming organisation; recognition of one more organic  inspection body.
  • 2006: The goal of achieving a 10 percent organic share of total agricultural area by 2013 was included in the “National Strategy for Sustainable Development”.
  • 2007: PRODER (Rural Development Programme 2007-2013), maintained organic farming support under the agri-environmental Regulation (EC) No. 1698/2005; DVQ/GPP was set up as the competent authority and coordinator of the other public agencies with competencies in this field; Mainstream supermarket chains became more involved in organic food distribution, and specialized organic shops started to open in Lisbon at a rate of one per year. Two inspection bodies were recognized.
  • 2008: Creation of the Technical Committee for the Evaluation of Agri-Environmental Measures (INTERBIO participates in this Committee). The “Iberian Agreement for Sustainability and Development of Organic Farming” was signed (although without any further development).
  • 2009: Regulation (EC) 834/2007 came into force; The School Fruit Scheme was launched, decreeing that preference should be given to fruits certified under quality schemes.
  • 2010: AGROBIO and INTERBIO were invited to participate in the new agricultural minister’s advisory committee.
  • 2011: INTERBIO drafted a proposal for an organic action plan and raised awareness about the need for an improved public organic farming strategy; Portugal became an official member of the Mediterranean Organic Agriculture Network (MOAN).
  • 2012: A delegation of the agricultural ministry attended BioFach for the first time.

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Key institutions and organisations

> State institutions

Quality Unit of the Office of Planning and Policies (DVQ/GPP) and further institutions

The Quality Unit of the Office of Planning and Policies (DVQ/GPP) is the state department in charge of agricultural product quality policy. The Office of Planning and Policies (GPP) is a subordinate body of the Ministry of Agriculture, whose mission is to support the Ministry of Agriculture in policy formulation and implementation and to ensure its international relations. The department in charge for organic farming is the Quality Unit (DVQ), directly under DSPMA (Directorate of Agricultural Production and Markets), one of the eight Directorates of GPP. It is in charge of organic farming, Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG), and other particular production methods such as integrated production. As such, it is responsible for implementing Regulation (EC) 834/2007 and coordinating the different public agencies with competencies in the field of organic farming (see table on right).

DVQ, the competent authority at the national level, also establishes the control system. It is in charge of the approval and supervision of control bodies, reception of operators’ notifications (see article 28 of Regulation (EC) 834/2007), and the collection of relevant statistical information.

An official of GPP represents Portugal at the meetings of the Standing Committee on Organic Farming (SCOF) and the Mediterranean Organic Agriculture Network (MOAN).
On the website of GPP, a section dedicated to organic farming is available and frequently updated, see www.gppaa.min-agricultura.pt/Biologica. The website is available in Portuguese only. Here, the electronic system for notifications (see article 28 of Reg. (EC) 834/2007), EU regulations, national procedures, statistical data and other useful information can be found.

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> Organic farming organisations

Portuguese Organic Farming Association - AGROBIO

Founded in 1985, AGROBIO was the first, and for many years the only, national organic farming organisation. In 2011, it had almost 5,600 members, including consumers, producers, processors, retailers, technicians and students.
This organisation continues to pursue its original objectives of promoting and disseminating information about organic agriculture: namely through marketing support, technical advice, research and experimentation projects, training courses, environmental education workshops, dissemination of information, organisation of seminars, open days, an annual fair, as well as a library and a bookstore.
In the past decade, AGROBIO emphasized the social and environmental roles of local organic farming and consumption by promoting farmers markets, organic meals in schools, and urban organic vegetable gardens in several localities.

On its website www.agrobio.pt, information such as news, activities and useful links are available. Organic consumers can find the list of the eight organic farmers markets promoted by AGROBIO. Farmers thinking about converting to organic may find some guidelines. Finally, it provides a classified section, where its associates can purchase and sell organic real estate, equipment, produce, etc.

AGROBIO has a long-standing and regular presence on the international organic scene. It has been a member of IFOAM since its beginning; it participates regularly at the IFOAM General Assemblies and conferences and at the meetings of the IFOAM EU Group. Additionally, it has attended BioFach since 1995, representing the country and the organic products of its associates.

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Inter-professional Organic Farming Association - INTERBIO

INTERBIO was founded in 2005 to protect and represent the interests of the organic operators.

Its inter-professional character is reflected in its membership composed of 98 members, (both individuals and collective entities): Producers, processors, distributors, and retailers, as well as organic advisory and inspection firms.

INTERBIO takes on an overtly political role, including direct lobbying, policy initiatives, monitoring of the competent authority’s activity and contributing to revisions of the EU Regulation and the Rural Development Programme. The most recent example was the presentation of a proposal for an organic action plan in 2011.

Previously, among others things, it promoted the signing of the “Iberian Agreement for Sustainability and Development of Organic Farming” together with its Spanish counterpart CAAE (Andalusian Committee for Organic Farming), organised national organic product tastings for the President of the Republic and members of Parliament. It also launched a petition to demand the priority of organic products in the School Fruit Scheme.

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Though still at an early stage of development, biodynamic agriculture  and the work of AGRIDIN, the biodynamic association, deserves special mention. It was founded in 2001, and from 2006 onwards it has been organising workshops and seminars conducted by foreign experts, producing and supplying biodynamic preparations, providing technical assistance and publishing technical notes. In late 2007, the first DEMETER certifications of a few wine and olive oil makers were carried out.

Consequently, since 2008, AGRIDIN has been a guest-member of DEMETER. In 2011, the association and some of its associates were present at the BioFach Organic Trade Fair in Nuremberg, Germany.

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> Organic farmers associations

The majority of the Portuguese organic farmers are members of an association that provides technical support, including advice on organic cropping practices, regular farm visits, farm plan elaboration, and issuing notifications to the competent authority.

AGROBIO, AGRIDIN and twelve regional organic farmers associations are the most representative, comprising approximately 1,100 organic farmers. Their distribution over the national territory, size and affiliation is presented in the map below.

The Portuguese organic farmers associations are mainly confederated under the Portuguese Farmers Confederation (CAP): a major general farming organisation, and under INTERBIO, although to a lesser extent due to its relatively recent existence.

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> Control bodies

In Portugal, inspection and certification according to Regulation (EC) 834/2007 standards is carried out by eight private organisations, accredited according to ISO Guide 65/EN 45011 by the Portuguese Accreditation Institute (IPAC).

SOCERT, formed in late 1994, was the first authorised inspection body under Regulation (EEC) 2092/91. It was a mixed capital company, formed by Portuguese associates that were formerly inspectors of AGROBIO, and ECOCERT, a French company.

By 2000, SATIVA, a national company, was approved to verify compliance with organic standards. In 2003, CERTIPLANET was founded, after a split from SOCERT, which in turn became fully an ECOCERT subsidiary, named ECOCERT-Portugal.

These three control bodies are the most symbolic because of their seniority, representativeness, scope and nation-wide presence. While ECOCERT-Portugal and CERTIPLANET are exclusively working on organic certification, SATIVA is the largest control body; it certified 1,303 organic operators in 2011. They also provide specialized certification services, such as organic textiles and cosmetics, traditional salt, and compliance with the US National Organic Programme (NOP), the Brazilian and DEMETER standards. CERTIPLANET and SATIVA also provide certification for organic inputs: a service they created to overcome doubts that organic farmers normally face about the suitability of some fertilizers for organic production. They are all members of IFOAM.

In 2004, two other inspection bodies named AGRICERT and CERTIALENTEJO (both based in Alentejo) were approved to carry out organic inspection and certification, followed by “Tradição & Qualidade” (Tradition & Quality) in 2005 (based in Trás-os-Montes). They answer to the general demand of certification of quality products (organic, Integrated Oest Management (IPM), Integrated Crop Management (ICM), Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG), voluntary labelling); organic certification is a minor part of their revenue. Nevertheless, CERTIALENTEJO (since 2009 CERTIS), broadened its geographical scope and was able to become the second biggest organic control body in the country. It certified 556 organic operators in 2011.

Finally, in 2007, CODIMACO and SGS ICS were recognized as inspection bodies for organic production. The first was established in the West Region and operates the usual quality products certification schemes. The latter is part of the Swiss-based multinational, certifying a wide range of products and services. SGS ICS and ECOCERT-Portugal are the sole foreign organic certification firms operating in Portugal.

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> Production data

Statistical data on organic production for Portugal Mainland has been officially available since 1993, as required by Reg. (EEC) No. 2092/91.

The graph below illustrates the growth of organic agriculture from 1993 to 2010.
Between 1993 and 2007, the number of organic farms increased from just 73 to 1,949, and the farmland under organic management (i.e. fully converted and under conversion) grew from 2,799 hectares to 233,475 hectares. This growth is directly related to the introduction of support policies in 1994 (Regulation (EEC) 2078/92), which were continued under the Rural Development Programmes in 2001 and 2007.
The year 2007 represents the peak of organic farming development in Portugal in which the land under organic management was 7.0 percent of the total agricultural area.

After 2007, the number of organic agricultural holdings and the area devoted to organic farming started to decrease. The eligibility requirements for organic farming support under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 became stricter, resulting in a lower recruitment rate. At the same time, the introduction of support payments for integrated production of a wider variety of crops motivated organic farmers to switch to that farming system.

However, in 2010, signs of a turnaround emerged. The total organic land area accounted for 210,981 hectares, managed by 2,434 holdings. This constituted 6 percent of the total agricultural area but still less than 1 percent of all agricultural holdings.

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> Land use

The organic agricultural land in Mainland Portugal has been always dominated by pastures, meadows and forage, olive groves, and arable crops. In 2010, these crops still represented 87 percent of the total organic land surface.

As grassland is a very significant part of the total organic area (73 percent), it is not surprising that, in 2010, 38 percent of all organic farms were engaged in organic livestock production (corresponding to 937 producers).

The dominant land use determines the large average size of Portuguese organic farms (approximately 87 hectares  in 2010).

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> Regional distribution of organic farms

In 2010, 75 percent of the organic farms and 87 percent of the organic land surface were located in the regions Trás-os-Montes, Beira Interior and Alentejo. Here low input large farms dominate, and traditional production methods prevail.

Generally speaking, it can be said that the large extensive grassland-based farms, located in the interior of Mainland Portugal, are those which convert to organic production.

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> Processing data

There are  no official data on the number of organic processors. INTERBIO (2011) estimated that there were 270 organic processors in Portugal in 2010.

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> Retail market value

In Portugal, there is no data collection system for organic market data in place at either governmental or private level. The retail sales value for organic food products was estimated by INTERBIO, in 2010, to be 20 to 22 million Euros, which corresponds to a market share of less than 0.2 percent of the total food market. The average annual per-capita expenditure for organic products is about 2 Euros.

INTERBIO (2011) further reported an average annual growth rate of over 20 percent. This strong growth trend for organic food has been visible over the last few years in the rising number of organic specialized shops, the successful spreading of organic farmers markets and the increase of organic sales in mainstream supermarket chains

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> Marketing channels

The Specialized Organic Retail Report Europe 2008 indicated that specialized retail held a 52 percent share of the domestic organic food market, but this value is considered to be underestimated. The bulk of organic sales pass through three medium-size organic retailers: BIOCOOP, Miosótis and Brio.

BIOCOOP is a cooperative of organic consumers, founded in 1993 with approximately 3,500 members. For a long time, BIOCOOP was the only organic specialized supermarket.

It was joined by “Miosótis” in 2007 and “Brio” in 2008, which opened one and four more stores, respectively, in the following years.

These are all large outlets (sales space between 150 and 500 square metres) located in the Lisbon Region, and they offer a full range consisting exclusively of certified organic products and other services such as butcher, bakery or cafeteria.
The largest concentration of consumers buying organic products is in Lisbon, the capital city, but during the last twenty years, demand for organic food has grown gradually throughout the more densely populated coastal regions. About 60 shops selling organic food products are now established in the main cities (e.g. Lisbon, Oporto, Braga, Coimbra, Cascais). These are normally of small dimensions (around 50 square metres) and not all specialized in organic food products, with a considerable part being health food, fair trade and gourmet shops.

In Lisbon, a few organic bakeries and a butcher also emerged. In addition, some restaurants, normally vegetarian or macrobiotic, offer organic meals.

Organic products can also be found in conventional supermarkets located in the main cities. The mainstream supermarkets chains with organic sections are “Sonae Distribuição”, “Jerónimo Martins”, “El Corte Inglés”, “Auchan”, “Lidl” and “Supermercados Apolónia” in Algarve.

Direct sales through farm-gate sales, farm stores, box schemes and e-commerce play a subordinate role. Nevertheless, open-air markets devoted to organic products are becoming increasingly popular. Organic farmers markets can be found in the main cities of the country (Lisbon, Oporto, Braga, Aveiro, Coimbra, Cascais, Oeiras, Algés, Amadora and Loures), and are normally held on a weekly basis.

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> Trade

Nowadays, organic consumers can find a wide assortment of both Portuguese and of imported fresh and processed organic products. Most of the organic meat products, fresh fruits, and vegetables are produced in the country.

However, with the exception of olive oil, wine and bread, organic food processing is still relatively underdeveloped and almost all organic processed products are imported.

Domestic rice and milk production is also insufficient. Imports come mostly from Spain, France and Germany, and to a lesser extent, from Italy, Switzerland, UK, and Austria.

Regarding exports, olive oil and wine play a major role in which most of the production is sold abroad: mainly to other European countries. Fresh vegetables are also gaining importance, being exported to meet seasonal shortfalls.

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> Labels

Organic products produced in Portugal are labelled with the EU logo for organic food. Additionally, AGROBIO’s logo, with the symbol of the ladybug, is still being used by its associates on their products since it has become familiar to consumers. 

Due to the predominance of imported organic processed food products, Portuguese consumers are also acquainted with other organic labels: AB (France), Bio-Siegel (Germany) and Demeter (biodynamic agriculture).

More recently, some mainstream supermarket chains  launched their own organic private labels (Continente of Sonae Distribuição and Pingo Doce of Jerónimo Martins).

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On January 1, 2009, Regulation (EC) 834/2007 as well as the associated implementing rules laid down in Regulation (EC) 889/2008 entered into force, and so far, Portugal follows them exclusively.

DVQ/GPP intends to propose national legislation for organic farming in the near future. This national legislation should implement Regulations (EC) 834/2007 and (EC) 889/2008 and detail some aspects related to the allocation of roles among the different State institutions. It will not, however, seek to be stricter or have a more extended scope.

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Government support

Since 2007, support for conversion to and maintenance of organic farming is provided through three territorial Rural Development Programmes for 2007-2013: one for Mainland Portugal (PRODER) and two for the Autonomous Regions - Madeira (PRODERAM) and Azores (PRORURAL).

PRODER - Rural Development Programme for Mainland Portugal

PRODER covers the bulk of the national territory. It comprises direct support measures for organic farming and the certification of quality products.

Area payments for organic farming vary between different land uses and, though maximum payment limits were not implemented, payment rates decrease in relation to the size of the organic area (see table below).

During the conversion period, the payment rates increase by 20 percent, as long as the beneficiaries have never benefited from this support before. Furthermore, the level of payment for pastures depends on livestock density, to a maximum of 1 hectare per livestock unit.

The eligibility requirements to enter into the organic farming support scheme are:

  • full farm conversion (including livestock) to organic or integrated production;
  • marketing the production of the supported area;
  • certification according to Regulation (EC) 834/2007;
  • undertaking a five-year commitment;
  • implementing cross compliance and good farming practices;
  • keeping field records;
  • leaf and soil analysis;
  • maintaining a minimum tree density.

In 2010, 113,955 hectares  of organic land were supported under PRODER, encompassing 1,481 beneficiaries. However, from January 2011, the organic support scheme is closed to new entrants due to budget restrictions. However, the expansion of up to 20 hectares for existing contracts as well as transition from integrated production to organic farming are allowed.

Inspection and certification

Financial support for quality products certification (i.e. organic farming, integrated production, PDO, PGI and TSG products) is provided directly to farmers through the reimbursement of a variable amount per hectare (see table below), up to an annual limit of 3,000 Euros per farm.

In 2009 and 2010, 15 percent of the total 15,553 applications submitted for certification support were from organic farmers. However, in January 2011, this support measure was also cancelled as the budget had overrun.

Other support measures

PRODER 2007-2013 also includes support for marketing and promotional activities, research and experimentation, and training of technical advisors. These measures, although not exclusively targeting the organic sector, financed organic farming organisations’ promotion campaigns, one organic research project and training courses for organic farming advisors.

The total budget of these measures is not exhausted, and calls for submission of applications are still open.

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Research, advice and training

> Research, experimentation, demonstration and extension

Since the mid-1990s, research in the field of organic farming started to be carried out at public research and higher education institutions. However, until the present, a research strategy for organic farming is yet to be defined, and only individual actions carried out in a dispersed way can be pointed out.

From the five Regional Directorates for Agriculture and Fisheries (DRAPs) existing in Mainland Portugal, the work on demonstration and experimentation developed by DRAP of North Region (DRAPN), Central Region (DRAPC) and Algarve (DRAPALG) is summarized in the table below. Although there are no organised extension services, DRAPs are also available to provide technical information and support in the field of organic farming whenever requested (see table 4 above).

In the Madeira Autonomous Region, the Services Directorate for Development of Organic Farming and Livestock (DSDAPB) deserves special mention. Since 2005, seven full-time technical advisors support the organic producers of these islands. At the same time, there are six organic experimentation and demonstration centres, consisting of 45 hectares of pasture and forage for livestock production based on local breeds, 2 hectares of tropical fruit trees, a composting facility, and a nursery for organically grown vegetative propagating material.

A large number of public universities and agricultural higher schools also carry out research in the field of organic farming, whether funded from their own resources, private companies or by FCT (Foundation for Science and Technology): the national research funding agency (see table 5).

AGROBIO, in partnership with two private agricultural enterprises and Évora University, is conducting an experimentation and demonstration project (2010 to 2014), co-funded under PRODER. The project assesses yield and disease resistance of regional rice varieties under organic management.

AGROBIO is also involved in projects to develop curricula on social farming. At the international level, AGROBIO participates in the project “Multifunctional agriculture in Europe – Social and ecological impacts on organic farms” (2011 to 2013), a Leonardo da Vinci project coordinated by Thüringer Ökoherz e.V. At the national level, two projects were carried out during 2010/11 in collaboration with CERCICA, a cooperative for the education of mentally retarded citizens. They were funded by the National Institute for Rehabilitation (INR).

Dissemination of research findings is done through conferences and seminars. INTERBIO organised the Organic Farming National Congress in 2006, 2008 and 2010, and the Portuguese Horticultural Association (APH), held the Organic Horticulture National Colloquium in 2003, 2007 and 2011. The 2011 colloquium was co-organised with the Portuguese Association of Animal Husbandry (APEZ), thus coinciding with the first National Colloquium on Organic Animal Husbandry.

A striking scientific event was also the 28th International Horticultural Congress in Lisbon, 2010, which included a symposium on organic horticulture where many Portuguese scholars presented their research work.

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> Education and training

Public universities and agricultural higher schools have already included organic agriculture in their curricula. The table below lists the current MSc. and BSc. on organic agriculture and other related subjects. Furthermore, both at the universities ISA/UTL, UTAD and FCUP, and at other agricultural school of higher education (ESA/IPCB, ESA/IPV and ESA/IPS), organic agriculture is taught as a mandatory or optional module for several BSc and MSc Agronomy degrees.

Two-year post-secondary courses entitled “Technological Specialization in Organic Agriculture” have been available since 2010/11 at Madeira University and are starting in 2011/12 at ESA/IPV.

At basic and secondary level, organic farming modules are offered in the scope of the youth and adult education and training system (organised in units of 25 to 100 hours). Funding is based largely on the Operational Programme for Human Potential (POPH), co-funded by European Social Fund (ESF).

There are also training courses on organic farming, which are not financially supported by the state.

AGROBIO has always represented a reference in this field offering a wide range of courses: for technical advisors (140 hours), for farmers (68 hours), specialized short courses (1 day) and workshops for the general public.

AGRIDIN also provides short courses (1-3 days) on organic and biodynamic agriculture. In 2011, it also offered a course for organic farmers (68 hours).
Recently, there was a boom of 2-5 day organic vegetable gardening courses with a strong practical orientation. Among many, QUERCUS (in collaboration with Biobrassica), the Biosite Cooperative, LIPOR, Valorlis, and Fundação Biológic@ are those with a more regular offer.

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> Technical advice

There is a national system for the recognition of organic farming technical advisors. It is  handled by DGADR - Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. In June 2011, 256 organic advisors were registered. From these, an unknown number are still working in the organic sector, integrated in organic farmers associations, certification bodies and public administration, or as freelancers.

Besides the abovementioned organic farmers associations, three private companies provide technical advisory services to organic farmers.

BIOSANI, created in 1994, is specialized in biological control and in supplying products and technical support to organic and integrated management farmers.

AGROSANUS, founded in 1999, exclusively provides technical assistance in organic farming. Moreover, AGROSANUS and EDIBIO (a publisher created in 2002 and co-owned by the same person), are the sole private organisations producing technical publications on organic farming such as brochures, pocket books, manuals, and authorized inputs guides.

BIOSANI, AGROSANUS, and EDIBIO are all members of IFOAM.

FRUBIO, established in 2007, provides technical advisory services exclusively in organic fruticulture, horticulture and viticulture.

All these consultancy firms are located in or within a distance of 50 kilometres from Lisbon.

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Promotion initiatives

There are two highly visible events in Portugal designed to promote organic production and consumption.

One is the annual organic farming national fair organised by AGROBIO, called "Terra Sã" ("Healthy Earth”). It has been organised by AGROBIO in Lisbon since 1988 (20th edition in 2010). It was also held in Oporto between 1999 and 2006, and it took place again in 2011. It comprises a large range of national organic products, and it also presents specialized equipment and services for the organic sector, organic restaurants, exhibitions and seminars.

The other is a national level event called “SEMANA BIO” (BIOWEEK), which has been organised annually by INTERBIO since 2006. During one week, organic operators and farmers associations, furthermore schools, municipalities, and other entities are mobilized to carry out initiatives all over the country, such as seminars, sales promotions, markets and fairs, organic products tastings, visits of organic farms and processing units, workshops, exhibitions and publicity in the mass media.

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Competent authority

Organic farming organisations

Organic retailers

Control bodies

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  • Cristóvão A., Koehnen T., Strecht A. and Vilas Boas D. (2000). Study on the quality of agricultural products and the protection of the environment : tining, knowledge dissemination and certification in Portugal. CEDEFOP Contract 200155, Final Report. UTAD, Vila Real
  • DGADR (2011). Modos de produção sustentável. http://www.dgadr.pt/
  • Domingos T., Neves A.O. and Marta-Pedroso C. (eds). (2011). Avaliação contínua do programa de desenvolvimento rural do Continente 2007-2013 (PRODER) : relatório intermédio da avaliação contínua de 2010. IST, IESE and IPB, Lisboa and Bragança.
  • DVQ/GPP (2011). Modo de produção biológico.  <http://www.gppaa.min-agricultura.pt/Biologica/>
  • Firmino A. (2000). Organic farming in Portugal. http://www.organic-europe.net/country_reports/pdf/2000/portugal.pdf>
  • GPP (2009). Plano de actividades – 2009. GPP, Lisboa.
  • INTERBIO (2011). Política nacional para a agricultura biológica. INTERBIO, Lisboa.
  • Lampkin N., Foster C. and Padel S. (1999). The policy and regulatory environment for organic farming in Europe : country reports. Organic farming in Europe: economics and policy, Vol. 2. Universität Hohenheim, Stuttgart.
  • Osch S., Schaer B., Strauch C. and Bauer C. (2008). Specialised organic retail report Europe 2008 : practical compendium of the organic market in 27 European countries. Organic Retailers Association (ORA), Vienna, ECOZEPT, Montpellier/Freising and BioVista, Ettlingen.
  • MADRP (2007). Programa de desenvolvimento rural : Continente 2007-2013. MADRP, Lisboa.
  • MADRP (2010). Programa de desenvolvimento rural : relatório de execução 2009. MADRP, Lisboa.
  • MADRP (2011). Programa de desenvolvimento rural : relatório de execução 2010. MADRP, Lisboa.
  • Mendes A.M.S.C., Cunha M.R., Ribeiro R.M., Sottomayor M., Campos R. and Costa L. (2001). Organic farming take off in Portugal. In: Proceedings of the 72nd EAAE Seminar on organic food marketing trends, Chania, Crete, June 7-10, 2001.<http://repositorio.ucp.pt/bitstream/10400.14/3855/1/trab-int_2001_FEG_1262_Costa_Leonardo_07.pdf>
  • Ministério da Agricultura, do Desenvolvimento Rural e das Pescas de Portugal (2006). Decreto-Lei No. 209/2006 de 27 de Outubro. Diário da República, 1.ª série, No. 208 of 27/10/2006: 7492-7500.
  • Ministério da Agricultura, do Desenvolvimento Rural e das Pescas de Portugal (2008). Portaria No. 229-B/2008 de 6 de Março. Diário da República, 1.ª série, No. 47 of 6/03/2008: 1434(8-22).
  • Ministério da Agricultura, do Desenvolvimento Rural e das Pescas de Portugal (2009). Portaria No. 1242/2009 de 12 de Outubro. Diário da República, 1.ª série, No. 197 of 12/10/2009: 7479-7482.
  • PRODER (2011). Programa de Desenvolvimento Rural. <http://www.proder.pt/>
  • Truninger M. (2010). O campo vem à cidade : agricultura biológica, mercado e consumo sustentável. Imprensa de Ciências Sociais, Lisboa.

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Catarina Crisóstomo
MSc. Mediterranean Organic Agriculture
PhD. candidate in Agro-Ecology
University of Milan