b'Not So Frequently Asked QuestionsPart 1ALL YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN EUROPE. BY: MARCEL BRUINSN ot so long ago, I was fortunate enough to moderate theLong Term field Experiment) has been going on 20 years now. Workshop on Potentialities and Challenges of BreedingCardi mentions that four years crop rotations, including cash and for the Vegetable Organic Systems in Almeria, Spain.cover crops, and intercropping experiments are being performed This allowed me to dive into this niche, yet steadily growingin the framework of several national and international projects, sector in the EU. Did you know that in 2018, organic farmingmonitoring their effect on chemical and biological quality of covered 13.4 million hectares of agricultural land in the EU-28,soils, and on productivity and nutritional/organoleptic quality which is about 7.5 % of the total utilised agricultural area? Theof crops. Furthermore, participatory and conventional breeding countries with the highest shares of organic land were Austria,programmes are being carried out in tomato to select genotypes Estonia and Sweden. With a steady growth in demand and aadapted to organic systems.recent update to the EU Regulation on Organic Production, itEuroseeds is the voice of the European seed sector, says was time for European Seed to dive into this sector.Gonzalez. We therefore represent the interests of those active And rather than posing a few standard questions aboutin research, breeding, production and marketing of seeds of agri-organic breeding and organic agriculture, (a format that hascultural, horticultural and ornamental plant species. Euroseeds been applied several times before already), it felt more interest- represented companies are the biggest suppliers of seeds for ing to confront the workshop speakers with some deliberatelyorganic farming, with approximately 90 to 95% of the market.thought-provoking statements which are often used by critics to undermine the organic sector. I wanted to allow the various pre- ES: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO DEVOTE MORE senters to provide their own answers to such criticism, so I spokeATTENTION TO ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN EUROPE?with Jaime Prohens, Director at the Institute for the ConservationDuring the last years, there has been a constant increase of agri-and Improvement of Valencian Agro-diversity (COMAV) at thecultural land dedicated to organic farming in Europe as a reflec-Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) in Spain, Teodoro Cardi,tion of the evolution of the EU organic market, says Gonzalez. Director of the Research Centre for Vegetables and OrnamentalThis has led to more companies active in the sector and an Crops in Italy, and with Csar Gonzalez, Manager Public Affairsincreased availability of high-quality seeds suitable for organic at Euroseeds in Brussels, Belgium. farming. By doing so, breeders respond to a genuine demand from farmers and consumers, he says. However, more atten-EUROPEAN SEED (ES): CAN YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN IN Ation should be put on the fact that with increasing pressure on NUTSHELL YOUR ORGANIZATION, AND HOW YOU AREagricultural land and organic food demand on rise, the yield CONTRIBUTING TO THE IMPROVEMENT OF ORGANICgap with conventional farming should be reduced. Otherwise, AGRICULTURE. imports of organic food will continue rising which has negative Prohens shares that the Polytechnic University of Valencia inconsequences on GHG emissions.Spain is a public university devoted to education and researchFor Prohens, the main reason is there is a clear increase in mostly in technological subjects. My contribution to organicdemand by consumers and because of the higher prices, it can agriculture is through breeding vegetable cultivars specificallycontribute to maintaining rural communities.adapted to organic conditions and with improved water andAgri-systems in Europe are quite diverse, in terms of envi-nutrients use efficiency and more resilient. ronments, crops and markets. In recent years, customers have The Research Centre for Vegetable and Ornamentalpaid more attention to product quality and aspects related to Crops is part of CREA (Council for Agricultural Researchecological impact of agriculture and were ready to pay higher and Economics), says Cardi. It has four sites, with research,prices for what they perceive high quality products, says Cardi. albeit focused on vegetables and ornamentals, spanning fromAlthough, in a general sense, high quality agriculture is not genomics and biotechnology-based breeding, to development ofrelated only to organic agriculture, it is true that the latter is innovative agronomic systems, including soilless ones, and eco- perceived as a major component to obtain healthier and more friendly methods for pest and disease management. A number ofsustainable products, he adds. research lines are particularly devoted to organic horticulture.In a highly diversified agricultural context, organic agricul-The centre has a certified organic experimental farm inture can play a significant role to increase the value of agricul-Monsampolo del Tronto in Central Italy. Therein, a long-termtural chains and the income of farmers, at least in some areas. experiment (MOVE-LTE, MOnsampolo organic VEgetable -Nevertheless, more attention is needed in research aimed to 44IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'