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Organic is bio-logical for Belarus

Organic agriculture holds enormous economic, environmental and health potential for the Republic of Belarus, participants have heard at a major conference taking place as the country prepares legislation on the topic.

The Fourth International Conference on Development of Organic Agriculture served as an important stock-taking event in collecting information and finding common ground for future elaboration of the Republic of Belarus’ organic law, ‘On the production and handling of organic products’.

The green light to draft the legislation was recently approved by the President of the Republic of Belarus and is being supported by UN Environment through the EU-funded "Greening Economies in the EU's Eastern Neighborhood countries" project.

Taking place on 24 November at the country’s State Academy for Agriculture in the town of Gorky, the meeting provided a timely opportunity to review the economic and environmental case for promoting organic agriculture in Belarus. Local farmers as well as policy makers underlined the tremendous opportunities offered by the growing global organic market.

It was concluded that the human health and environmental benefits resulting from organic production, without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, also outweigh possible reductions in yield compared to conventional agriculture.

Belarus already boasts 11 large producers of organic food and six large-scale exporters. The fact that a large proportion of Belarussian agriculture has been handled without synthetic inputs for decades underlines that the country’s presence on international organic markets has yet to reach its full potential if more local farmers gain access to reputable organic labels.

During the meeting, Belarussian stakeholders learned a number of important lessons of how to align their organic criteria and evaluation methods with those of neighbouring Russian and European neighbours’ legislation.

Organic agriculture already features as a major component of Belarus’ national sustainable development strategy for 2030 and plays a pivotal role in Belarus’ broader transition towards a Green Economy.

UN Environment supports the development of Belarus' National Green Economy Action Plan in the frame of the EU-funded project. In October, UN Environment participated in the second inter-ministerial and stakeholders meeting to discuss the rationale, specific actions and indicators to be included in the country’s draft Action Plan. The plan will be finalized and submitted for government review in December 2016.

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