Ukrainian producers of organic products achieved something truly remarkable in 2022, the year that Russia launched its invasion and war, by increasing organic exports by 13%.
The extraordinary effort to achieve this uplift was supported and facilitated in signifiant part by the Switzerland-headquartered Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL).
Despite enormous difficulties, Ukrainian organic exporters also continue to have a strong presence at international organic trade fairs. This week, representatives from the country’s important organic sector have gathered at the Biofach trade show in Nuremberg, where they are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Ukrainian National Pavilion.
According to the analysis of the Ukrainian Certification Body Organic Standard, in 2022, Ukraine exported 225,814 metric tons of organic products to the EU and Switzerland, a 13 % increase compared to 2021.
One key to this success story lies in the financial support of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Switzerland, which finances the Quality Food Trade Program (QFTP), which is implemented by FiBL Switzerland and in partnership with SAFOSO. FiBL has been working in Ukraine to develop the organic sector for about 20 years and hasn’t stopped its support during the war.
“The work continued in 2022 and will be continued in 2023, also under the most difficult conditions,” says Tobias Eisenring, FiBL coordinator of the QFTP. The Ukrainian State Institution Entrepreneurship and Export Promotion Office (EEPO), together with the QFTP and other partners have brought 23 organic exporters to Biofach 2023.
“The brave resistance of Ukrainian organic farmers, their creative and flexible logistic solutions and a big wave of solidarity from international buyers led to the observed success”
FiBL expert Toralf Richter, who in the QFTP is responsible for the marketing activities of Ukrainian exporters, highlights the most important reasons for the export success under wartime conditions: “The brave resistance of Ukrainian organic farmers, their creative and flexible logistic solutions and a big wave of solidarity from international buyers led to the observed success.”
FiBL supported the efforts of Ukrainian producers with organisations dedicated to online business matchmaking activities, such as the organisation of Online Organic Export Days in November 2022, the international celebration of Ukrainian Organic Day in September 2022, an online conference “Organic export during the War” in June 2022 and the country’s large presence at Biofach. Additionally, FiBL organised online events and produced podcasts to update international buyers about the constantly changing export situation and export solutions.
Throughout this period it has been vital that the country’s organic farmers were not left alone, says FiBL. Together with the Ukrainian multi-stakeholder platform Organic Initiative, the QFTP coordinated financial support for more than 100 Ukrainian organic operators for USD 367,000. With this support, organic farmers could continue to be certified or buy organic inputs for the 2022–2023 seeding campaign.