• Jo Harper

Slovenia’s organic farming sector notes healthy growth

Slovenia's organic farming sector continues to grow slowly but steadily, with 3,320 agricultural holdings registered as organic farms in 2018, a 4 per cent increase over 2017.

The farms produced more organic vegetable and fruit in 2018 than the previous year, which was a bad year for farmers due to extreme weather conditions. Farms holding the status of organic producers represented 4.8 per cent of all farms in Slovenia.

The country’s total organic produce grew by 27 per cent last year compared to 2017, amounting to over 29,000 tons, while the amount of produced vegetables (over 1,800 tons) increased by 21 per cent compared to 2017, the Statistics Office said.

The production of grapes (over 1,500 tons) and olives (over 550 tons) increased as well, by 15 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively. The 2018 organic production of fruit was almost six times bigger than in 2017, weighing more than 5,000 tons.

The number of animals in organic farming was mostly lower in 2018 than in the previous year — on average by 9 per cent — with the exception of honey bee colonies (up by 31 per cent to 2,863), other animals, such as game reared in pens (up by almost 9 per cent) and cattle (up by almost 2 per cent). The total amount of organically produced meat grew by 26 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017.

The production of organic milk in 2018 mostly increased compared to 2017 — organic cow’s milk was up 20 per cent to 6,900 tons, sheep milk was up by almost 2 per cent to 181 tons, while goat milk was down 13 per cent to 139 tons.

Agricultural areas intended for organic farming increased in 2018 — by 1,320 hectares or 7 per cent compared to 2017. The organic vineyard area grew by 37 per cent, organic orchards by 14 per cent and olive groves by 13 per cent, while the area for organic production of vegetables increased by 11 per cent. In 2018, 21 per cent more organic vegetables produced in Slovenia than the year before

Some 21 per cent more organic vegetables were produced in 2018 than in 2017. After the fall of the quantity of produced vegetables by 14 per cent in 2017 compared to the previous year, in 2018 almost 4 per cent more was harvested than in 2016.

Organic farms light the way

Agricultural holdings in the system of control of organic production in 2018 (3,741) represented 5.4 per cent of all agricultural holdings in Slovenia; those that already reached the status of organic producers (3,320) represented 4.8 per cent of all agricultural holdings in Slovenia. The shares of both increased in 2018 by 0.2 of a percentage point.

In 2018, the area of organic vineyards increased by 37 per cent (or by 124 ha), followed by orchards and olive groves (by 14 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively or by 183 ha and 26 ha, respectively). The area with organic production of vegetables increased by 11 per cent, which is only 22 ha.

The share of permanent pastures and meadows in organic farming is decreasing though, but at a slow pace — the share was at 82.8 per cent in 2017 and 81.7 per cent in 2018.

Given the extremely low fruit output in 2017 due to adverse climatic conditions, in 2018 the highest increase was recorded in organic production of fruit, almost 6-fold (5,029 tons in 2018 and 895 tons in 2017). The total organic production in arable land and gardens was 27 per cent higher than in 2017 (weighing 29,216 tons); vegetables increased by 21 per cent (weighing 1,834 tons). The output in organic vineyards was higher by 15 per cent (weighing 1,505 tons) and in olive groves by 31 per cent (weighing 552 tons).

In 2018, the number of individual species of animals in organic farming was mostly lower than in 2017, on average by 9 per cent. Only the number of honey bee colonies increased by 31 per cent (from 2,182 to 2,863), of other animals (game reared in pens) by almost 9 per cent and of cattle by almost 2 per cent.

In 2018 the total weight of meat from organic farming increased by 26 per cent over the previous year. The weight of cattle meat increased by 27 per cent and of pig meat by 19 per cent, while the weight of sheep meat decreased by 41 per cent and of goat meat by 57 per cent. There was no equidae meat in 2018. The weight of poultry meat increased by 29 per cent and the weight of other animals’ meat (game reared in pens) by 238 per cent.

The production of organic cow’s milk in 2018 was 6,868 tons or 20 per cent more than in 2017, sheep milk 181 tons or almost 2 per cent less than in 2017, and goat milk 139 tons or 13 per cent less than in 2017.

Compared to 2017, in 2018 there was an increase also in the production of honey (by 41 per cent) and eggs (by 26 per cent).

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