“The recovery of the Ukrainian food production system should be based on agro-ecological principles,” according to Kateryna Shor, spokesperson of IFOAM Organics Europe’s Ukrainian members.

This means a move away from a more intensive production system and long supply chains.

“Transitioning to local and sustainable food systems can ensure a stable income for local producers, lower food’s price, its carbon footprint, improve the quality of food and improve food security on local and regional level,” she added.

Ahead of the start of the European Organic Congress 2022, taking place in Bordeaux, France on June 16-17, the Ukrainian organic movement expressed its solidarity with Ukrainian farmers.

A report published recently has highlighted the devastating impact of the Russian invasion on Ukraine’s agricultural sector, which has had $4.3 billion (€4.06 billion) of damage done to it.

Agricultural War Damages Review, published by the Centre for Food and Land Use Research at the Kyiv School of Economics estimates that $2.1 billion worth of damage has been caused to farmland and unharvested crops.

And it is estimated that $926 million worth of damage has been caused to agricultural machinery in Ukraine, with tractors and trucks at the highest risk of being damaged.

Sustainable development

At the opening of the congress today, representatives of the Ukrainian organic movement stated that Ukraine’s recovery should not be a return to the pre-war status but should be a fully fledged redevelopment and integration into the European community.

This would be based on sustainable development principles and would take into account the European Green Deal.

“We understand that food security is on the forefront both in Ukraine and the world,” Shor continued.

“But the war in Ukraine demonstrates the vulnerability of intensive production and long supply chains.

“We could see that large livestock enterprises are not only an easy target for airstrikes and artillery, but they are also very vulnerable to power outages and supply chain disruptions.

“Long food chains also make food systems very sensitive to possible obstacles in supply chains over long distances, bringing up production costs and increasing resource use and food’s carbon footprint.”

She said she is very grateful to those producers who, despite the difficult situation, continue to work organically.

Philippe Lassalle St-Jean, president of INTERBIO Nouvelle-Aquitaine said:

“Together with European, national, and regional levels, we wanted to express our strong solidarity to the organic Ukrainian sector, to the farmers, and to the companies that need help and need to produce and to harvest.

He said there should be cooperation during the post-war period to maintain and develop organic production in Ukraine, and to keep in mind the European targets of 25% of land being under organics by 2030.

Eduardo Cuoco, IFOAM Organics Europe director added: “The organic movement regrets and rejects calls to suspend environmental legislation and to forget about climate change and biodiversity loss because of this war.

“This crisis, like the pandemic before it, and others to come, should strengthen the EU’s determination to make our food system more resilient, in line with planetary boundaries and to bring our economic model back in balance with nature.

“Organic farming is the blueprint for an agro-ecological and social model of agriculture which is more independent from external inputs, resilient, fairer, healthier, knowledge-intensive and based on shorter supply chains.”

He said European countries should better support this transition to agro-ecology rather than seek to protect an agro-industrial model, which is fragile and highly dependent on global imports and exports, fossil-fuels, and non-circular inputs.