Bulgaria and Croatia are the EU member states with highest growing organic farming sectors in the 28-nation bloc, the latest data from the European Statistics Agency, Eurostat, show.
While the total area of organic production in the EU-28 from 2012 to 2016 grew by 18.7 per cent, in Bulgaria, the growth rate was over 310 per cent, and in Croatia it was 193.4 per cent.
The two states also hold the largest shares of areas of land under conversion to fully organic land, which, according to EU data, shows the potential for growth in the organic sector.
In Bulgaria, this share is 77.5 per cent of all organic lands; in Croatia, it was nearly 69 per cent.
Despite these record growth rates, however, organic farmers in both countries still face challenges compared to their competitors in the older EU member states.
Albena Simeonova, president of Bulgaria’s Association of Bioproducers, says organic farming in Bulgaria has boomed in the recent years.
“In 2009, when we created the association, we were 25 people. Now, the number of registered organic producers is between 7,100 and 7,200 in Bulgaria,” she said.
At the same time, Simeonova acknowledged that thousands of those people are just owners of meadows that in reality have no production, which distorts the data.