By Dr. Rafiq Islam
SWBR Program Leader
Rafiq Islam was actively involved, participating in and virtual teaching, in the training program “Growing organic crops in crop rotation with a focus on technical tomatoes” organized by the Institute of Water Problems and Land Reclamation of the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine (IWPLR NAAS), together with the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The entire training program, in six different modules, was supported by the European Union in the framework of the EU4Business initiative “Ukraine: Training for small and medium agricultural enterprises.”
As part of the training program, Islam and Dr. Nataliia Didenko delivered a two-hour PowerPoint presentation titled “Organic Production - Principles and World Experience.” Around 30 participants, mostly small scale future organic farmers in Ukraine, attended the training course held at Mykolaiv in Ukraine. Dr. Didenko, as the co-presenter, translated the presentation into Ukrainian language and explained the presentation theme and results to the participants.
During and after their presentation, both Islam and Didenko emphasized Ukraine’s availability of vast areas of fertile lands that could be turned into alternate farming practices, especially organic production, compared to current industrial farming systems. Small-scale farmers could export organic produce to European and North American markets, thus improving farm stability and the livelihood of Ukrainian small and future farmers. There is a high demand for organic tomatoes particularly in the United States and Europe. The economical profitability and nutritionally healthy properties of organic crops can help provide great opportunities for small-scale, poor and new farmers, along with rural job creation and organic export marketing opportunities, can help minimize farming costs with recycling of natural resources, and reduce pollution and improve soil health and water quality.
Ukraine has the land, water, technology, and motivated people to achieve these objectives, it just needs to remove Soviet-style old administrative roadblocks and create proactive business/marketing opportunities for farmers and entrepreneurs.