France has been on the forefront of organic farming for years now and things don’t look like they’re going to change anytime soon. There has been a 115% increase in organic farms from 2007 to 2013 and the number of people that consume organic products regularly has increased from 37% in 2003 to 65% in 2016.
The stats are startling, and more consumers are moving towards the organic route due to the increased health risks and scandals around GM crops. The high demand from the consumers necessitates a move towards organic farming.
What does it take to become an organic farmer in France?
The organic industry in France has got a tight set of rules.
For starters, no agrochemicals should be used. Instead, farmers need to opt for more natural techniques such as biological control where other animals or insects are used to control pests.
Organic farmers also have to turn their backs on GMOs. However, their produce would be termed as organic as long as they don’t exceed the 0.9% threshold. Traces of GMOs could be present during the production, transportation, and processing where mixing between different shipments could occur.
Maintaining soil fertility by using husbandry techniques such as crop rotation as opposed to artificial fertilisers is another requirement.
Challenges to organic farming
But all these requirements don’t even scratch the surface. A farmer intending to practice organic farming needs huge machinery when it comes to taking care of the crops and limiting weeds. A lot of resources and labour is also required and this equipment could cost up to $20,000 Euros.
Generally, the conversion period constitutes the time takes before a product can be branded as organic. This period lasts up to 3 years, as this is the time it takes for chemical residues and pesticides to be absorbed into the soil.
Generally, organic farmers need to be financially stable before diving in.
The future is organic
Despite the immense resources required to switch to organic farming, more than 21 organic farms have been created each day within the first 6 months of 2016. More organic produce is hitting the shelves of France, and the prices are continually dropping.
Businesses and retailers are at the forefront of these reduced prices. Largescale production and bulk orders are continually bringing these organic products to the shelves of supermarkets all across France. The reduced process has even led to a higher rise on the demand of organic foods as almost anyone can now afford them. Supermarkets have reported a double digit growth in organic sales and there is a 25% increase in specialist organic sales.
Yes, the prices have reduced, but the fact remains, organic products cannot be as cheap.
Producing organic products is tedious. More workers are required, post-harvesting of relatively small quantities of organic products limits the economies of scale, and environmental measures to get the land ready for organic farming also use up a lot of capital. But the end result is worth it. Clean, green food. As more and more farmers switch to organic produce, the prices are expected to drop drastically.
The consumer is more aware of their health now and they’re willing to pay a little higher for food that is green and won’t harm them. The future of
organic farming in France is bright and the government is funding farmers and supporting them to switch to organic.