The number of organic farms in both the Czech Republic and Italy increased last year according to recent reports.
Some 212,000ha of land in the Czech Republic is now dedicated to organic farming, 5.3 per cent of total farmland in the country and 3.86 per cent ahead of the previous year. The number of Czech organic farms grew from just 87 in 2000 to 650 last year, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture.
The ministry has been subsidising organic farming since 1998, and subsidies have risen from CZK48.09m (€1.5m) to CZK165.55million over that period.
Jiri Felcarek, press officer at the ministry, said that organic food was on average 20 to 30 per cent higher than that of non-organic food. Since Czech households already spend around 30 per cent of their expenditure on food, a percentage much higher than in the EU, this could affect demand for organic food in the long term, he said.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the number of organic farms rose by 1,000 last year to 47,357, according to the Consorzio Italiano per il Controllo dei Prodotti Biologici (CCPB), the Italian consortium for the control of organic products.
Lino Nori, chairman of the consortium, said that the number of companies that process organic products grew by 53 per cent over the same period from 1,894 to 2,898. He stated that one third of organic production was currently exported.