The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry proposes doubling state subsidies for farmers willing to practice organic agriculture, including organic beekeeping.
Responding to an inquiry from IPN, Marcela Stahi, department head at the Ministry, said that under the proposal, subsidies for the period of transition to organic farming methods for vegetables would increase from 3,000 to 7,000 lei per hectare in the first year and from 3,500 to 8,000 lei per hectare in the second year. The increase in subsidies will motivate more vegetable producers to grow organic products. It will also increase the number of beekeepers who will produce organic honey, said the ministry specialist.
The executive director of the National Federation of Farmers, Vasile Mârzenco, who is also a vegetable grower, said that even these increased subsidies will not be enough amid increasing seed material and fuel prices. However, it will make it easier to some extent for farmers to practice eco-friendly agriculture. “Farmers’ interest in growing eco-friendly products will also increase due to a recent increase in prices of fertilizers and pesticides used in conventional agriculture. In organic production, yields are lower, but the prices of organic vegetables are higher compared to those grown by conventional methods”, Vasile Mârzenco told IPN.
Ion Maxim, president of the National Association of Beekeepers, is also skeptical that the measure will greatly increase the number of organic honey producers. “There are many people who want to produce organic honey in Moldova, but it is problematic to meet all the conditions. It is very difficult, both financially, but also to find places where you can grow organic honey. You can’t be sure that the hives will not be stolen or that no source of pollution will appear later, which could ruin the whole organic beekeeping business. The hives for the production of organic honey must be at least 3 kilometers from polluting sources”, said Ion Maxim.
“If the Ministry hears us and stops authorizing imports of seeds treated with products harmful to both bees and humans, it is possible that we will have more producers of organic honey. True, these substances protect the seed, but they remain in the ground and in the groundwater for decades and, with the nectar collected by the bees, they affect the honey”, Ion Maxim said. He added that the Moldovan legislation contains shortcomings that would hinder beekeepers producing eco honey to sell their goods. “The Moldovan institutions that deal with the certification of organic honey are not recognized abroad, so beekeepers certified by these institutions cannot export this honey. On the other hand, beekeepers certified by the EU and internationally recognized institutions cannot sell their organic honey in Moldova. It’s a paradox,” said Ion Maxim.
According to the National Association of Beekeepers, there are over 7,800 beekeepers registered in Moldova and only 10 produce organic honey.