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CHANNEL

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European organic production is expected to grow between 5%-20% by 2006, and Eastern countries have the potential to take the lion's share. In Hungary, for example, the area under organic agriculture is growing by 30% a year and 6% of arable land will be organic by 2006. In many cases, companies based in western Europe are managing exports of organic produce from accession states. But there is insufficient information about the state of organic agriculture in these countries - its regulation, its techniques or its supporting research, which is leading to mistrust. A Specific Support Action, coordinated from Hungary and involving ten Accession States and Candidate Countries (including those that became new Member States on 1 May 2004), will create a database of information about organic agriculture in these states with the aim of breaking down barriers to communication, and integrating these central and eastern European countries in the international organic research community.

KEPT IN THE DARK

There are serious barriers to communication with many Accession States. Information technology is underdeveloped, and language can be a problem. Even neighbouring countries that were once a political unit tend not to know what is happening next door. In the 'old' Member States, which generate much of the market for high-premium organic food, there is a lack of information about the state of organic agriculture in the new Member States. Eastern Europe has long been committed to conventional agriculture - maximum production at the expense of the environment. Its rapid conversion from this to small-scale, environmentally aware organic agriculture, in response to a burgeoning market, looks suspicious to many.

DISPELLING SUSPICION

The Specific Support Action, known as CHANNEL, is offering accession states a chance to dispel these fears, to communicate their achievements, and to become involved in international research networks on organic techniques. It will hold meetings and seminars in Accession and Candidate Countries to discuss the state of play and identify research needs. The widest possible range of stakeholders will be invited, from farmers to pressure groups to research institutes.

Key issues in organic farming will be covered: soil fertility, weed management, plant protection, seed and propagation material, animal husbandry, and agro-technology. Through these meetings, and other research on the ground, the project will compile a database of organic agriculture activities in each Accession and Candidate Country, which will be made available on the internet.

LOCAL SCIENCE

Organic farming works with the local environment, and as such, requires local research to support it.

For example, in conventional farming, soils are made fertile by the standard use of mineral fertilisers, and farmers can neglect good practices to preserve natural soil fertility. Organic farmers must work with their soil to improve it. Much of eastern Europe has low precipitation and dry soils which call for specific, optimised cultivation measures. The production of seed for organic agriculture, which has not been pretreated with pesticides and fertilisers, is completely lacking in many Accession States. Research is needed to recommend varieties and develop technologies to produce suitable seed locally.

The CHANNEL project will promote itself extensively. Hopefully, by the end of its 18-month period, the organic research community in these Accession and Candidate Countries will be sufficiently well connected to increase the possibilities to participate in EU Framework Programmes and thus able to fulfil the research needs which have been highlighted.

List of Partners

  • Budapest University of Economic Science and Public Administration (Hungary)
  • Central Service for Plant Protection and Soil Conservation (Hungary)
  • National Institute for Agricultural Quality Control, Budapest (Hungary)
  • Institute for Small Animal Research, Budapest (Hungary)
  • Centre for Agricultural Landscape and Land Use Research, Müncheberg (Germany)
  • Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft, Vienna (Austria)
  • Federal Agricultural Research Centre, Braunschweig (Germany)
  • Nikola Poushkarov Institute of Soil Science, Sofia (Bulgaria)
  • University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice (Czech Republic)
  • Biokontroll Hungaria, Budapest (Hungary)
  • Association of Hungarian Small Animal Breeders for Gene Conservation (Hungary)
  • Agricultural University of Wroclaw (Poland)
  • Institute of Agricultural Research and Development, Fundulea, Calarasi (Romania)
  • University of Veterinary Medicine, Kosice (Slovakia)
  • Slovak Agricultural University, Nitra (Slovakia)
  • University of Maribor (Slovenia)
  • Estonian Agricultural University, Tartu (Estonia)
  • Institute of Botany, Vilnus (Lithuania)
  • Lithuanian Institute of Agriculture, Kedainiai (Lithuania)
  • Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari, Valenzano (Italy)
  • Univerity di Lecce (Italy)
  • Agricultural Research Institute of Cyprus, Nicosia (Cyprus)
  • The Genista Foundation, Kalkara (Malta)
  • University of Kassel, (Germany)
  • Prekuli State Plant Breeding Station (Latvia)
  • University of Kassel, (Germany)
Acronym:
CHANNEL
Full title:
Opening channels of communication between associated candidate countries and the EU in ecological farming
Contract n°:
003375
Website:
http://www.channel.uni-corvinus.hu
Project co-ordinator:
Laszlo Radics,
Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration
lradics@omega.kee.hu
EC Scientific Officer:
Daničle Tissot
daniele.tissot@ec.europa.eu
EU contribution:
€ 392,850
Call:
FP6-2002-Food-1
Type:
Specific Support Action

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top