Organic agriculture is a system focused on improvement and promotion of agricultural production, whereby land improvement is considered as a key factor for production of high quality and ecologically clean food, which is also facilitated by increased demand. Organic production does not use toxic substances, stable pesticides, chemical fertilizers, artificial substances and irradiation, instead organic fertilizers (mainly manure) are used and the pest and disease control is carried out only with plant preparations.
Organic agriculture aims to obtain ecologically safe and natural agricultural products that are safe for human body, at the same time properly using natural resources with the obligatory condition of their continuous replenishment.
Presently organic agriculture is considered to be one of the fastest growing branches of the food industry, and organic food products occupy their stable place in the world food market. It is considered a profitable sector, for organic food has a higher price than products obtained from intensive agriculture.
Organic agriculture is widespread throughout the world, and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), operating in more than 100 countries, promotes and supports the development of organic agriculture around the world.
As of May 12, 2020, about 58 business entities have been certified to operate in organic agriculture in Armenia, whereas there is a great potential for its development in the Republic of Armenia. A number of local and international organizations do a lot of work focused on development of organic agriculture in Armenia, among which the activities of the following are worth mentioning: Agribusiness and Rural Development Center, Green Lane, Women for Health and other organizations, which, with the aim to contribute to the development of sustainable and organic agriculture in Armenia, cooperate with the RA Ministry of Economy and the RA Ministry of Environment and implement numerous projects and initiatives by emphasizing and supporting the production of ecologically clean agricultural products.
It should be noted that the legislative framework for organic agriculture in Armenia is fully established. The RA Law “On organic agriculture” and a number of by-laws ensuring the execution of the law are in force. An entity for certification of organic agriculture and food production is also operational – EcoGlobe LLC, which has international accreditation and carries out organic certification in the areas of soil, plant and animal products, as well as collection of wild fruits, beekeeping, wine, and other areas for various markets: the Republic of Armenia, European Union, Switzerland, USA, Canada, etc.
According to the statistical data, the number of both organic food producers and consumers in the world is growing rapidly.
In order to promote organic agriculture in Armenia, a three-year EU-funded Organic Agriculture Support Initiative (OASI) grant project launched in September 2015, which was co-financed and implemented by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The project facilitated the successful sale of Armenian organic products in local and international markets by improving the legal and regulatory framework and providing comprehensive support for marketing. The total budget of the project was 3.3mln Euros. The Organic Agriculture Support Initiative (OASI) project established links between Armenian farmers and processors and Armenian buyers and interested European and other international companies. In addition, Armenian organic producers had the opportunity to participate in international organic produce fairs. Support functions, including training and certification services, were provided through training courses of entities supporting organic agriculture. Farmers, farmer groups, cooperatives, and processors were provided with financial and technical assistance, leading to a significant increase in the number of participants engaged in the organic products value chain and its volume.
On March 4, 2020, the “EU Green Agriculture Initiative in Armenia” (EU-GAIA), the largest EU-funded assistance project in the field of agriculture in Armenia, was officially launched in Yerevan. The project is funded by the European Union, co-financed and implemented by the Austrian Development Agency and partly by UNDP Armenia. The project partner on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Armenia is the RA Ministry of Economy. The goal of the “EU Green Agriculture Initiative in Armenia” (EU-GAIA) project is to support the development of sustainable, inclusive, innovative, and market-oriented agribusiness, particularly in the northern Marzes of Armenia: Lori, Tavush, and Shirak. The total budget of the project is 11.7mln Euros. One of the major components of the project is provision of direct technical assistance to producers and processors in the form of grants. Demonstration sites will be created within the project framework to show usage of modern infrastructures and green technologies. At the effect of the equipment and services provided by the project, the selected agricultural producers and agribusinesses will become more competitive in local and international markets.
The RA Ministry of Economy currently holds discussions on legislative reforms and development of projects for promotion of organic agriculture.