Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management and German Organisation for Internationl Cooperation (GIZ) started reviewing the National Action Plan for the Development of Organic Production in Serbia. The first workshop was held in Zrenjanin in the period between 3rd and 4th November 2011 when representatives of the respective ministry, agricultural institutes and faculties, local government, utility and trade associations, associations of organic producers and other national associations, and representatives of certification bodies, accredited laboratories, Accreditation Body of Serbia (ATS) and USAID agribusiness project.
In 2009, the first draft of the said document was made when 12 objectives were defined together with measures and activities for the development of organic agriculture in the Republic of Serbia for the period between 2010 and 2015. Since certain activities were implemented since then, and since it was necessary to define new important activities and measures related to the existing objectives, it was concluded that it was necessary to review the National Action Plan. With this end in view, a two-day workshop was organised when all relevant parties in the field of organic production had a chance to harmonise their stands and prepare a working paper of the plan to be revised. In order to be able to attain the primary objectives of the Action Plan, it will be necessary to consider the interests of all parties participating in the organic production, and to raise awareness of the importance of organic production to the upgrade of health and sustainable use of resources. Organic production can create favourable conditions for Serbian producers in terms of significant demand on home and European market due to a larger quantity of certified high quality food and fulfilment of health and biological standards. On the other hand, organic production has an important role in the development of rural areas since it enables economic growth, performance of diverse activities, provides a platform for attracting funding, and it is an integral part of the strategy for rural and agricultural development.
The importance of organic production affected the goal of the original action plan that required the total area of arable land (“Agricultural area certified organic” and "Agricultural area in conversion to organic”) to be increased to amount to 50,000 ha by 2014, while in the field of quality infrastructure the goal is to establish an operational and harmonised control system of organic production in accordance with the EU practice. This means that Serbia will need to put in place conformity assessment and control system in the field of organic agriculture that will be harmonised with EU standards and effectively operated: competent authority (respective Ministry) will need to carry out all the activities falling within its area of competence; a register of organic producers was established that is made publically available and is regularly updated; a control system was put in place by means of activities of authorised accredited certification bodies and competent authority; the Republic of Serbia is on the list of EU third countries; Serbian certification bodies are on the EU List of Recognised Certification Bodies.
The ATS is part of the quality control system requiring that certification bodies in this field must be accredited in line with SRPS EN 45011 (first certification body was accredited in mid 2010). The ATS worked, together with GIZ, on the upgrade of its capacities in order to meet the need for accreditation of CABs in organic production by delivering training to ATS assessors that will perform assessments of certification bodies in the field of organic production in line with SRPS EN 45011. The project envisaged that the assistance is needed to upgrade the capacities of the ATS assessors to be able to produce certification body assessment reports in keeping with EC regulation No. 1235/2008 and EU Import Rules for Organic Products.
Draft paper of the National Action Plan envisages that important support should be provided to all participants of conformity assessment system - from the ATS, certification bodies to testing laboratories so that they would be delivered necessary training (introduction to the requirements of the European Committee for the requesting inclusion in the list of recognised control bodies for the purpose of equivalence; upgrade of the operation of certification bodies in the field of establishment of the system for the collection of data on organic production; good laboratory practice – guideline for testing methods in the field of organic products).
Jasna Stojanović attended the workshop on behalf of the ATS.
Marina Cvetković, Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management