Founded in 2014 as an initiative and formally registered in 2017, Hrvatski savez udruga ekoloških proizvođača is the official Croatian association for organic food producers.
It currently gathers 11 organic farmers’ organisations from all over the country; meaning approximately 200 small-scale organic farmers are members of the alliance and benefits from its activities.
HSEP remains a small structure and doesn’t have employees. Its work depends on the determination of volunteers as well as the participation of farmers to the development of the projects.
HSEP was set up to support national initiatives promoting an ambitious ecological policy and the development of organic agriculture.
Its commitment, as a national network, is to facilitate experience sharing between farmers and strengthen the elaboration of a common vision for creating sustainable farming systems at the national scale.
HSEP develops different kind of activities to foster connections within the agricultural and political sector. It organized some informal meetings and conferences, gathering farmers and representatives of the Ministry of agriculture. More projects are to come in this field for the future.
Through educational activities, HSEP supports professional famers who want to start growing organically, from seed to plant.
In September 2020, the association launched an other Ecological project focusing on the development of other sustainable farming models: permaculture, biodynamics, regenerative agriculture.
HSEP organizes other kinds of workshops, dedicated to consumers willing to better understand organic certification and production.
The second important mission of the association is to advocate and communicate towards decision makers, on topics of agroecology, organic farming and seed legislation.
In that framework, HSEP is taking part to a Committee for monitoring the implementation of rural development measures in Croatia, and to a Committee for the protection of genetic resources.
It is also member of the European network La Via Campesina that participates to European political campaigns in favor of greater peasant autonomy in seed reproduction and use.
HSEP recently strengthened its commitment towards sustainable agriculture by developing new activities around the need to preserve and enhance cultivated plant genetic resources.
In Croatia, there is no official organic seed production. Some farmers are preserving their local and/or open pollinated varieties of seeds, exchanging them though local seed swaps and fairs. But these varieties rarely are registered in the national catalogue, which limits their distribution and improvement.
Farmers need to be supported for being able to make agroecological transitions. First of all, they need knowledge, advice and assistance regarding seed registration and maintenance process, as well as connections to expert institutions that can guide them through it.
To answer that issue, HSEP launched in 2019, the Project ‘Diversity is sustainable’, aiming to spread seed saving initiatives among farmers.
It wrote and published an informative brochure about technical procedures to register organic seed material in the national catalogue.
The brochure is available online, in written and audio version, in Croatian only. A printed edition also can be distributed by post or through fairs and seed swaps, ask to HSEP for your own copy.
The association would like to go further by creating networks gathering farmers with scientific institutions and developing projects to support farmers in covering costs of seed registration.
HSEP helped registering 28 conservation varieties in the national list, under the name of farmers, in cooperation with scientists or advisory services. One of them (buckwheat from Varazdin) is from heterogeneous material.
The association doesn’t maintain any seed collection yet. This would require more resources such as a land, storage capacity, skilled people, new offices, etc.
For the moment, it focuses on helping farmers to overcome administration burden, stress and lack of experiment and connections, in order to stimulate and strengthen the development of organic seed production and organic farming in Croatia.
Members of HSEP alliance are organic farmers’ organizations so anyone who wants to join the project can become a member of a local organic farmers’ organization that is already taking part to the alliance.
Anyone who wants to give contribution to HSEP’s project is welcome to contact the association.
It is also possible to make a donation to support the association's activities. Bank info can be found on the website, at the contact section.