Organic Farming in Poland as Example of Organic Farming in CEE Countries - from farm to plate", 25-29 July 2005, Warsaw and Culavia - Pomerania,
ENAOS 2005 - 4th ENAOS Summer Meeting

organised within the framework of the Avalon Network Project financed by

European Commision
Warsaw Agricultural University,
Faculty of Human Nutricion and Consumer Science,
Faculty of Agriculture and Biology
Dutch National Postcode Lottery Ministry of National Education And Sport
Chosen papers on organic farming

Barriers of conversion into organic farming

Michele Morettini, Francesco Martino, D'Amario Angelantonio, Marzoli Fabio

A period of severals years, known as transition period is needed to change a farm from conventional to organic management, during which the farmer should aim to:

  • Improve soil fertility, by using only non syntethic nitrogeen fertilizer or large amounts of bought-in manures;
  • Adjust the stocking rate to the natural carrying capacity of the farm, so that livestock can be produced without large amounts of purchased concentrates and/or forage;
  • Change the management to maintain animal and plant health with the limited inputs available according to organic production standards

The time required will depend overall on the condition of the farm before the conversion, and naturally on the intensity of convetional management.

After the conversion the farmer can apply for full organic certification and will usually be allowed to use a symbol and gain access to premium prices where available.

The certification aspects of conversion are regulated by standards and legislation.

Adoption of organic farming: characteristics, motives and barriers

There is some evidence that in countries where organic farming sector has been dominated by very small holdings, average size is increasing as more established farmers convert.

Organic farmers are generally well educated or better educated than conventional farmers. Many have an urban background, general academic education and little or no previous farming experience. Organic farmers are also tipycally younger than average and (as suggested by Richter in 1990) who start farming organically is generally less dependent on acceptance in the rural community.


The question why farmers go organic has been the subject of several studies since the mid -1970s.

In general organic farming is chosen for several reasons in addition to financial ones, in particular soil degradation, livestock health and pesticide use.

Financial motives include attempts to solve existing financial problems and to secure the future existence of the farm by exploiting opportunities for cost savings and premium price marketing. Financial motives are more frequently mentioned in recent studies, but usually in combination with other motives. Mac Rae relates this to the general economic situation of farming in the developed world, but it can also be argued that it is linked to the increasing financial attractiveness of organic farming in some countries.

Non-financial aspects and farmers' objectives should therefore be included in any analysis of the implications of conversion.

Barriers to conversion

As important as why farmers convert is why farmers do not convert to organic farming, particularly given the stark contrast between the numbers of farmers who have actually adopted organic farming and the numbers who have expressed interest in adopting organic methods.

Conventional farmers' perceptions and access to technical and financial information have been identified as significant barriers to conversion.

These include:

  • Lack of information and unhelpful disparging extension agencies, leading to misconceptions concerning practices, yield expectations, financial performance and risk;
  • Concerns about potential problems with weeds, pest and disease control, the risk of yield losses or crop failure, feed shortages and a large increase in manual labour;
  • Difficulties in gaining access to information which does exist but is only available through no traditional sources, such as books, magazines, neighbours, family and friends and particulary other organic farmers;
  • Negative images of organic farmers as hippies or hobby farmers
  • Concern that the market for organic produce is limited and that large scale conversion would lead to massive oversupply, a collapse in prices and reduced incomes, with the lack of technical, marketing and financial data contributing to an enhanced perception of limited feasibility and high risk which risk-averse farmers under financial pressure or high levels of indebtedness are not prepared to take on board.

Fisher (1989) comments that the major difference between adopters and non adopters was one of attitude. Once the decision to adopt organic farming had been taken, farmers bacame fully committed, seeing further problems as challenges and no longer as barriers. This may be helped by improvements in the availability of information, since the problem of lack of information and advice does not feature so highly in recent studies from countries such as Sweden where advisory services for organic producers are better developed.

Institutional barriers to conversionhave been identified in a numbr of studies, particularyfrom Canada and USA. These include: landlord objections, refusal of loans or insurance for organic production; problems with grant applications; and legislative and certification constraints.

Social barriers, such as the fear of becoming an 'outsider' or intergenerational conflicts are also cited frequently, but these can also be seen as examples of a general phenomenon associated with the social-change process, particulary in tightly-knit rural communities.

Deep impact: CE 2078/92

The attuation of the CE 2078/92 has incredibly changed Italian agronomical practices until 1999. It's important to remind that the geographical influence of that rule hasn't been uniform in Italy.

In the Southern regions we can appreciate a great increase only after the Regional Planes in 1996, while in the rest of Italy the application of organic practices have been characterized by a slowly gradual growth since 1994. The gradual growing of the organic farming in those regions presents, on the other hand, a great problem, they have a great technical delay in relation of the Southern ones.



ENOAS Summer Meeting IV: Introduction | Organizers | List of participants | Meeting Plan | Lectures and presentation | Country presentation | Work groups | Excursions / Visits

Organizers; Warsaw Agricultural University (SGGW) | Faculty of Human Nutrition and Consumer Sciences | The Faculty of Agriculture and Biology | Education in organic farming at SGGW | Scientific Association of Agriculture Students - yesterday and today | Scientific Assiociation of Nutrition and Dietetics Students | ENOAS - European Network of Organic Agriculture Students - past, present and future | Avalon Foundation

Organic farming and market in Poland

Country presentations: COLOMBIA - General situation of organic agriculture in Colombia –organic food market in Colombia | HUNGARY - Situation of ecological agriculture in Hungary | ITALY - organic food market | SLOVAKIA – Ecological agriculture | FINLAND - Organic markets in Finland

Reports of visits: BIODYNAMIC FARM, Education Center of R.STEINER Foundation in Prądocin | ROLMIĘS | Bakery SŁODKA | FARM of THE KUJAWSKIS | FARM and MILL of THE BABALSKIS | BIOFOOD

Chosen papers on organic farming: Barriers of conversion into organic production | Barriers of conversion into organic farming | Barriers of conversion into organic farming  | Role of direct sale in organic farming  | Social aspects of organic farming  | Social aspects of organic farming  | Multifunctionality of organic farming in Slovak Republic  | Multifunctionality of organic farming | Multifunctionality of organic farming | Multifunctionality of organic farming  | Multifunctionality of organic farming

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