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Organic Products

More and more organic products are referred not only in Greece but all around the world. Recent scientific information about several benefits of organic products to human health and the environment contributes to this direction.
 

In General

By the term organic products, we refer to those products that are a result of land cultivation with natural processes and without using any fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Organic crops aim to protect the environment and human health, and therefore any plant diseases and soil problems are addressed with natural methods (plants or animal species that are disease-resistant and adapted to the conditions of each production place).
 
Organic products contain 30% less water than conventional food and have larger amounts of vitamins, enzymes, minerals and proteins based on their production method.
 
A product in order to be considered as organic, it must be the result of organic farming of at least a period of three years and it must have the special sign and code on it that was assigned by the certification organization. The use of any genetically modified organisms or materials is prohibited. Strict controls conducted at all process stages ensure that organic production is friendly to the environment, animals and consumer health. European Commission Regulation 2092/91 contains all the principles referring to organic farming. In organic livestock production, animals must be fed with organic feed and within specific environments in order for the resulting product to be considered as organic. In addition, there are conditions that have to be met at all production and cultivation stages along with processing and standardization stages for a product to be considered as organic and there has to be a control at all these stages.
 
There is an upward trend in Greece in recent years about organic farming and consumer demand for organic products. Some street markets selling only organic products have been operating in Athens and Thessaloniki. As consumers express a growing demand for organic products based on information they receive on the higher nutritional value of these products, several stores begin to open. Supermarkets across Greece include organic products in their rooms. In the exports sector, Greek organic olive oil is exported to several countries around the world. Considerable efforts are made to promote Greek organic products abroad helped by the strict controls to maintain quality and certification.
 
Bio-Organic
 

Advantages

Nowadays organic products can guarantee original taste and quality. People who have a healthy diet are satisfied with organic products and more people are turning to these products mostly because organic products:
  • Ensure better life quality based on their cultivation without fertilizers, pesticides, hormones and other chemical substances.
  • Provide protection to consumers since their quality is certified by competent bodies.
  • Maintain their taste and flavor and their nutrients.
  • Finally, they are environmentally friendly throughout their production process.
This reliability of organic products is based on strict control system according to which every organic farmer is being monitored at all production stages until the distribution of the final product to consumers. Agronomists check farmlands taking special tests during cultivation, harvest and standardization assuring that the necessary requirements are met. There are also independent but state accredited bodies that monitor product cultivation and processing in order to certify by stamp that each product is organic. Packers and retailers are required to be respectively certified in order to be able to process products in “bulk” form. All these controls guarantee to consumers that the products they buy are fully Organic, as long as they are certified by accredited bodies.
 

Disadvantages

Organic crop cultivation is a recent field in agriculture and livestock breeding, especially in our country, and this is a disadvantage by default since there is a lack of information, training and coordination at production stages. Another problem is the smaller quantity of organic products in relation to conventional food in markets as an organic cultivation requires more time and work to reach its production point and along with a series of strict controls to ensure product quality. This leads to the fact that organic products are more expensive than other food when reaching the shelves or the consumers.
 

Statistcs

According to a recent survey (2012) under FiBL & IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements), there are 37.5 million hectares of agricultural land managed for organic products by 1.9 million producers in a total of 162 countries with official data. Oceania (32%), Europe (30%) and Latin America (18%) are the regions with the largest areas of organically managed farmland globally. The countries leading the way in organic agricultural land are Australia, Argentina and the United States. The countries with the largest number of producers engaged in organic farming are India, Uganda and Mexico.  Bhutan in the Himalayas is the first country in the world that produces entirely organic products.
 
In Europe, 5.4% of agricultural land is used for organic farming. Spain, Italy and Germany are the countries with the largest areas for organic farming. Liechtenstein, Austria, Sweden, Estonia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Latvia are countries in which organic land is more than 10% in each one. The European Union defines which products should be considered as organic based on common criteria for all member states, although each country has the right to adopt its own legislation on domestic consumption. A product in order to be considered as organic, it must have the relevant certifying indications that its production mode was organic in accordance with the applicable Regulations (EC) 834/2007, 889/2008 and (EU) 271/2010 referring to agricultural cultivation products, aquaculture and livestock breeding.
 
In Greece there are about 460,000 hectares used for organic farming and about 22,000 producers engaged in organic farming. Various certification organizations for organic products are operating in Greece. Main products concerning organic farming in Greece are olives and cereals, organic vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers, organic fruits such as oranges and apples, eggs and meat although there is a big variety in products grown in all prefectures of Greece.
 

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