Best Practices, Olive and oil supply chain in Montenegro (4rd part)

As we saw in the previous chapter, Montenegro, through agribusiness support measures, encourages the introduction of all these forms of name / product protection and production process, but despite this support, interest in certification through these quality schemes has so far been limited. Montenegro, which is also declared an ecological (organic) country by the Constitution, and which with its natural predispositions (preserved natural environment, low level of pollution, and a large share of protected, valuable ecosystems), and specifically for olive growing, the existence of a large number of preserved ancient, unpolluted olive groves , and naturally suitable resource bases for the spread of organic olive growing, is largely in ine with the philosophy and future direction of European agriculture.

Therefore, it would be logical to expect a larger number of organic producers of olives and olive oil in Montenegro, but unfortunately this has not happened so far. Regarding organic production in the olive sector of Montenegro, in the database of the national certification body Monteorganica we find one, now long-term registered organic producer in the olive sector (including processing into olive oil), and seven olive growers who in the transition period, to certification, from a total of over 420 registered users from other sectors of agriculture, and producers in the process of registration for organic production.10 This increase in the number of olive growers entering organic production is an encouraging sign, as there has been no change in the number of organic producers in the olive sector for a long time.

Among the main reasons why we do not record a large number of organic producers in the olive sector, the following are stated:
• Lack of awareness about organic agriculture, and its benefits for producers,
• Perception that organic certification and cultivation are demanding and inaccessible, especially in the case of small olive groves,
• Fear that, due to small plantations, there will be contamination of the plantations by the surrounding, conventional olive groves,
• Fear that, with the entry into the organic program and the loss of the right to use conventional fertilizers and pesticides / herbicides, there will be a reduction in yields and an increase in damage from diseases and pests, and consequently higher production costs and lower revenues,
• Doubts the readiness of the domestic market to recognize and reward the organic product.

In general, it can be summed up that producers are still quite skeptical about the advantages and benefits of organic production, the sustainability of the organic production model, and the willingness of the market (consumers) to recognize and reward an organically certified product. The emergence of a number of newly interested producers entering the organic production system is a good sign, while signals from potential users collected through this analysis are encouraging. Therefore, additional efforts should be directed towards measures to support producers, and informing and educating producers and consumers, in order to finally reach a significant, concrete number of organically certified Montenegrin olive oils. A strong impetus to the development of the organic sector could be placement through elite tourism, and to consumers who are environmentally aware, and have the purchasing power to pay for a more expensive, certified product.

Unfortunately, so far in Montenegro we do not record a single olive oil whose name is successfully protected by this quality scheme, despite the obvious existence of key basic parameters required for such registration: specifics of the range (indigenous olive varieties), traditional production region (Ulcinj/Bar/Budva, and the region of Herceg Novi, Kotor, Tivat), and the specifics of the oil itself, and finally, the historical evidence of the production of these oils and their long-term recognition by consumers. According to the findings, it is currently in the phase of drafting the specifications of Bar Olive Oil, it is to be expected that other Montenegrin regions where olive oil is traditionally produced will start the process of drafting specifications and protecting the names of their oils. The registration process of the first Montenegrin Panel for organoleptic evaluation of olive oil is underway, which is a significant step in improving the quality control of olive oil.

Extracted and reworked from the document: “Report on BPs on quality schemes and consumer Health in Montenegro”. The report is one of the deliverables under the activity ” Exchange and knowledge transferring of Best practices on quality schemes and consumer health ” WPT1 ”Improving the coss-border framework conditions for the valorization of the agri-food and fisheries value-chain” .

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