Thursday 24, January, 2019 at 12.30 am

Finland is the most arctic agricultural country in the world, with a climate that creates good conditions and surroundings for sustainable and clean agricultural production. Finland is characterised and defined by four seasons which create the special features and conditions of Finnish agriculture.

Defining features of organic production include systematic farm management, freedom from toxins, and a food system combining the best practices in terms of the environment and climate. Organic production typically has short supply chains, a high degree of self-sufficiency for animal feed, and first-class animal welfare and care.

Examples of the aims and main principles of organic farming include furthering protection of the environment and climate, maintaining soil fertility, promoting high biodiversity, promoting a toxin-free environment, high standards of animal welfare, and short distribution channels.

Organic production is important in societal terms: it responds to the demand by consumers wanting organic produce, as well as providing commonly available foods and commodities that improve the state of the environment, animal welfare, and development of rural areas.

Interest in organic farming is growing in Finland both in terms of production and consumption. In 2018, 489 new farms were included in the organic register of the Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira). The area under contract increased by 32,800 ha, and the total area under organic cultivation and at the transition stage currently stands at 290,600 ha or 12.8% of the total area (Evira). In 2018, 474 new agreements were approved for organic farming subsidies. At this time, about 4,700 farms in total have organic agreements, of which about 950 are livestock agreements (Agency for Rural Affairs Mavi).

In 2017, the share of organic production of total production in Finland was 25.3% for lamb, for eggs 5.7%, milk 2.7%, pork 0.5%, beef 3.1%, potatoes 1.5% and grains 2.6%. The market share of organic produce is about 2.3% of total sales.

Organic wild collection

Small Finland has a population of just 5.3 million and is the northernmost agricultural country on the planet, with 75% of its land area covered in forest. As an organic farming country Finland is relatively small, but more than 12 million hectares of Finnish natural environment is certified organic wild produce collection area. This is the largest area in Europe and accounts for a quarter of the world’s organic collection area.

The natural environment of Finland is unique. We have plentiful and high-quality water resources, and food produced in Finland has a small water footprint; for collected produce it is almost zero. The long, cold winter and on the other hand the ample light of the summer create the conditions for large wild berry crops and abundant nature. The arctic location and northern conditions provide added value to organic collection production, as the conditions setting limitations on mass production have in a way served to protect our food chain from many of the problems associated with efficient mass production, such as chemicalisation of ground waters and substrates. Finnish soil is clean by international standards and the air quality extremely good in most of Finland. The climatic conditions in Finland are conducive to the growth of wild produce – in relation to its size; Finland is one of the world’s finest countries for wild berries and herbs.

Organic collection produce and areas have been utilised in many ways. Berries and mushrooms often end up as foods as they are, but are also processed into health and wellbeing products, as they contain a wealth of economical substances beneficial to health. The most important organic wild produce are bilberries, lingonberries and birch sap. Wild herbs collected from nature are on the rise in the restaurant world, but are also suitable as raw materials for cosmetics and animal feed production. Organic forests are also utilised as an element of Finnish farm tourism, the popularity of which is constantly growing.

Despite Finland being a sparsely populated country, it has a well-developed and comprehensive network of roads and forest tracks, allowing the harvesting of organic wild produce and efficient logistics. Therefore, produce collected from the forest can be received and transported for processing very quickly, which guarantees the high quality of the products. The majority of commercially collected wild berries are already exported, but there is more potential, since less than 40% of the forests’ bounty is gathered every year.

Finnish wild berries and herbs grow free from fertiliser, irrigation and plant protection agents. Organic collection produce is free from herbicide and pesticide residues and hygiene risks resulted from artificial irrigation. The geographic situation and northern location of Finland guarantee large and high-quality harvests year after year.

Finland is a small arctic country up north, but we are able to offer many possibilities for international cooperation – these possibilities we want to open up to the Fair visitors.

Finland’s organic exports

The main produce of Finland’s organic exports is oats. The produce is mainly processed into flour, as well as flakes and bran. The majority of organic oats grown in Finland is exported. Similarly, most of the organic potato starch goes for export.

The currently most important export countries are in Europe (Germany, France, Denmark and Sweden). Interest in Finnish organic produce is also increasing, for example in the Asian markets.

For further information:

Mrs. Jaana Elo, MTK,  the Chairman of the Finnishc Organic Production, organic farmer
Tel. +358 44 222 0879

Heidi Haavisto-Meier, (M.Sc), MTK,  the organic farming expert