The project German-Ukrainian Cooperation Organic Agriculture (COA), implemented by AFC Agriculture and Finance Consultants GmbH, Germany, participated in one of the world's leading trade fairs for organic food, BIOFACH in Nuremberg, Germany, from July 26-29, 2022.

The BIOFACH conference brings together international organic stakeholders, including regulators, policy makers and companies, to discuss the latest industry trends.

At this year's BIOFACH Summer Edition, much of the focus was on Ukraine. Not only was the country represented with two pavilions - which, incidentally, were also visited by German Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir as part of the official opening ceremony - but many exhibitors showed solidarity with Ukraine in a variety of ways: with blue and yellow flags, peaked caps, pins and badges, and not least by wearing the famous Ukrainian embroidered shirts, the Vyshyvanka.

The congress program also focused on Ukraine, with the main event being "Organic farming in Ukraine 5 months after the beginning of the war - status quo and outlook ", organized by the project German-Ukrainian Cooperation in Organic Agriculture (COA). More than 100 participants wanted to get first-hand information on the current situation, especially with regard to the trade of Ukrainian organic goods and the prospects for this year's harvest.

The event was also politically high profile: the State Secretary of BMEL Dr. Ophelia Nick gave the opening speech and the First Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Agricultural Policy and Food of Ukraine, Mr. Taras Vysotsky, greeted the attendees with a video message. 

Next was the presentation of a 10-minutes video, which had been produced by an Ukrainian film team in Ukraine especially for this Biofach event. The film reports on organic farming in Ukraine and gives a voice to farmers who are directly affected by the war. The way these people overcame their initial shock and found pragmatic and innovative solutions for themselves, their farms and their village communities is one of the most impressive moments of this event.

Mr. Sergiy Galashevskyy, CEO of the Ukrainian organic control body Organic Standard then presented the facts about the current situation on production in and trade with Ukraine. Currently, about 20% of Ukraine's territory is occupied by Russia, including organic farmland and production facilities. Additionally, many organic farms in the north and south of the country, are still suffering from the damage they had to face during the occupation of these territories in the early days of the war. The biggest challenges for organic farms at the moment are the lack or high cost of transportation, fuel, and personnel, the destroyed infrastructure, the burden of refugees on farms, and limited freedom of movement.

Certain amount of Ukrainian organic grain is currently in warehouses on occupied territory, some grain is in the blockaded seaports. Using alternative means and routes of transportation, Ukrainian exporters are trying to deliver the available commodities to Europe by rail, road and river vessels. But these capacities are limited, costly and lengthy.

During a panel discussion with prominent experts from production (Shiva Semlya), trade (Tradin Organic, EEPO Ukraine), associations (Organic Federation of Ukraine) and politics (European Commission DG Agri) this difficult situation was examined from different perspectives. Even if there can be no central solution to the problems, solidarity-based cooperation between producers, sellers and buyers and political representatives always opens up possibilities and ways to maintain trade with Ukrainian organic goods even in times of war. 

At the end of the event, Nicolai Fuchs, board member of GLS Treuhand, presented the "Emergency Aid Ukraine" of Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft. This fundraising campaign initiated by COA for Ukrainian organic farms has already generated and disbursed more than 550,000 euros in support, making a remarkable contribution to the organic movement in Ukraine.

At the end, the visibly touched visitors received small packets of Ukrainian herbal tea in the dominant colors of blue and yellow, which had been created by the Chaipotutory ShivaSemlja company as a tribute to the "wide sky of Ukraine".


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