Portugal behind with organic products

news: Portugal behind with organic products

ORGANIC FARMING in Portugal is on the increase, but the country is still lagging behind the rest of Europe, the president of AGROBIO, the Portuguese Organic Farming Association, has announced, though 40 more outlets have begun selling organic produce in the last four years. However, António Marques da Cruz, told that the number of farmers producing organic crops “has grown little”, with only around 1,000 organic farms currently existing in Portugal. “Five years ago, there were only around five places selling organic products, now we have 45,” he explained.

In Lisbon, there are now 17 shops selling products that have been grown without the use of fertilisers and pesticides or that have been made without artificial ingredients. At these establishments, it is possible to buy organic fruit and vegetables, certified meat, honey, and a range of organic dairy produce including cheese, milk, yogurts and butter.

“The problem is the cost, as the farmers have to finance the certification of these products. But it is not true that organic foods are always more expensive than regular products. In fact, this year, the organic tomato was cheaper than the normal tomatoes sold at Alcântara market,” highlighted Cruz.

Last May, the government presented the National Plan for the Development of Organic Farming, which foresaw, among other benefits, a reduction from 12 to five per cent VAT on products that can be classified as 70 per cent or more organic. The plan aims to increase the national organic farming area from 3.2 per cent to seven per cent, and the farmers from 1,174 to 4,700 by the year 2007. It is estimated that, by then, the plan will cost around 20 million euros per year to implement, which corresponds to four times the annual tax on organic agriculture.

Speaking about the scheme, the AGROBIO president commented: “It is important that this plan for 2004-2007 is transformed from theory into practice. This government said that it was presenting concrete measures to be implemented, but we have not heard anything and we are now at the end of 2004.”