Sustainable farming expert Darko Znaor talks about the connection between organic food production and tourism.
“The potential for organic production in Croatia does exist, and yet several times more ecologically produced food is being imported to Croatia than it is exported from the country”, said Darko Znaor, an expert for sustainable and organic farming, reports Poslovni.hr on March 14, 2016.
The biggest problem regarding organic farming, he noted, is that among the agricultural policymakers in Croatia there are no people who would actively promote it. “For most of them, organic farming is just a general trend. We need to have people with vision and those who advocate organic farming, if Croatia is to gain a stronger momentum”, he explained.
Znaor, the first person in Europe with a Master’s degree in eco-agriculture, suggests a deep analysis of the situation should be done to determine the key issues. “An uncontrolled development is not good, just as it is not good that there is no coordination between the Ministry of Agriculture and the agencies.”
Znaor warned there is a phenomenon in Croatia that is not present in other countries. “For every ten hectares of ecological production, we have almost seven hectares in parallel production. So, some of the same people who are applying for the ecological incentives and have an eco-label, they have conventional production as well. This is all very difficult to control because our system is not sophisticated enough. Therefore, some might fear that they have not bought an eco-product, although they thought they did buy one.” Finally, Zaor said, Croatia needs a large program for the promotion of eco-labels and products.
Asked whether the organically produced food and tourism in Croatia are well connected, he simply answered “not at all”. “However, these are concepts that are compatible and should be promoted. But, Croatia does not know how to advertise what it has. A very few people are aware that Croatia is the second country in the world, after Sweden, when it comes to the percentage of forests that have environmental certificates. Tourists should see big billboards that promote this when they are entering the country, but there are no such billboards to be seen. The same goes for organic farming. I have recently spent a night at the Plitvice Lakes, a famous Croatian tourist attraction. What I got in the hotel for breakfast was a disaster – there was no ecological or domestic food, only imported food or the food from our major manufacturers”, Znaor concluded.