The False Organic Farmers E1
Portuguese Association of Organic Farming (AGROBIO), P-1300 Lisboa
|The fast increase in the number of organic
farmers in Portugal, registered after the implementation of environmental regulations,
gave rise to certain fears about the real motivation of the new-comers. Indeed, although
Portugal has good conditions for this type of agriculture, its importance either in what
concerns the area occupied, final production and people involved was irrelevant until
1993. And if irregularities among some organic farmers were already detected at that time,
when many farmers adopted organic farming regulations as an expression of their concern
towards environment and public health, it seems realistic to believe that the new farmers,
most of them without prior experience and purely moved by the material incentives offered
by EU and higher prices in the market, will still feel more tempted to disrespect the
However, this is not the only threat impending over the organic farming. Lack of more effective technical support, practical courses and even recommended products for treatment and fertilization, together with illiteracy and deficient farms (in terms of size, slope, soils, water supply, labour, etc.) contribute to a poor panorama, which claims for a fast intervention of every board involved with organic farming, in order to assure the quality of the production and improve the productivity, promoting at the same time the environment and the local welfare of the populations. Nevertheless, the increase in the number of farmers interested in organic farming is a positive factor as long as there is demand, as it is the case, and effective control of the quality. However more strict, but necessary, measures to ensure a genuine organic production, which are already being implemented, and delays in the payment of subsidies, beyond some arbitrarities concerning financial support committed by certain publicity dependent of the Ministry of Agriculture, will most probably contribute to the reduction in the number of organic producers in the future, unless the prices compensate these disadvantages.
Firmino, A. (1996): Some Reflections on Sustainable Development in Portugal. Proceedings of the third plenary meeting of the EU-concerted action: »The Landscape and nature production capacity of organic/sustainable types of agriculture«, Agricultural University Wageningen, p. 85-96.
Soeiro, A. (1995): Ajudas a Agricultores e Certificacao - o exemplo domodo de producao biologica. III Encontro Nacional de Proteccao Integrada, November 1995.