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Training of Trainers in the Nitrates Directive

The assignment was carried out as part of ORGUT’s subcontract with Chemonics International within the USAID/Sida project –FARMA in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The purpose of USAID/Sida FARMA is to provide technical assistance in agricultural sub-sectors through demand driven assistance aimed at improved competitiveness of agricultural products. USAID/Sida FARMA is a development project jointly funded by USAID and Sida and implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina. USAID/Sida FARMA is to expand environmentally sustainable production, processing, and sales of value-added agricultural products. The expected result of FARMA is contribution to poverty reduction. USAID/Sida FARMA is implemented by Chemonics International with ORGUT as a subcontractor. ORGUT provides consulting services aiming at increasing agricultural competitiveness, meeting EU accession standards, reducing poverty by expanding environmentally sustainable production, and increasing sales, exports, and employment. USAID/Sida FARMA’s approach focuses on four integrated components: Building sustainable market linkages for producers; Increasing access to finance; Building the capacity of producer organisations’ and other counterparts; and Enhancing the policy environment to benefit competitiveness of agricultural goods. In order to attain project goals, USAID/ Sida FARMA uses various tools, including a Development Fund and Partners Fund for targeted subcontracts to local partners.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a potential future member of the European Union, assumed the obligation to harmonize its legislation with the EU acquis. This includes the implementation of regulations pertaining to water protection. One of these regulations is particularly important from the viewpoint of agriculture and to the Council Directive on the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources, hereafter referred to as the Nitrates Directive. Unpolluted and clean water is vital to human health and well-being, as well as to natural ecosystems, so protection of water quality is one of the cornerstones of European environmental policy. The 1991 Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC) is one of the earliest pieces of EU legislation aimed at controlling pollution and improving water quality. Farming remains accountable for over 50% of the total nitrogen discharge into surface waters. The Nitrates Directive aims to protect the water quality across Europe by preventing nitrates from agricultural sources polluting ground and surface waters and by promoting the use of good farming practices. Farming practices and their implications for the environment have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years with mounting pressures on farmers to reduce pollution and achieve higher environmental standards. The Nitrates Directive is an outstanding example, at EU level, of the pressure on farmers to redirect agriculture toward environmental sustainability. Insufficient and excessive application of nitrogen (N) in fertilization of agricultural crops and feeding of domestic animals has negative consequences on the environment. Excessive application of nitrogen causes nutrient losses and environmental pollution (land, water and air), and insufficient application reduces financial income from production. Inevitably, some nitrogen is lost on the farm through the natural nitrogen cycle but proper management of these losses should keep them to a minimum. The number of animals per hectare of land surface plays crucial role. Codes of Good Agricultural Practice prescribe the application of manure and artificial fertilizers on an annual basis based on the number of animals. In the initial four-year period the maximum permitted intake of pure nitrogen through manure is 210 kg N /ha per year. After the four-year period, the maximum permitted intake of pure nitrogen through manure is 170 kg N/ha per year.

During training events and study tours, the FARMA team always underlines the importance of Nitrates Directive, which is important both from the perspective of meeting the EU as well as USAID environmental requirements. Furthermore, FARMA also underlines that adoption of the provisions of the Nitrate Directive is one of the major eligibility requirements for accessing EU funds for rural development (IPARD) which are expected to be available to BiH producer organizations in the near future. However, a more intensive effort to train extension advisers needs to be made to facilitate greater awareness raising and adoption of the Nitrates Directive in BiH. In addition, government officials need a better understanding of the Nitrates Directive to develop appropriate policies and strategies that incorporates and facilitates adoption of this Directive. In stakeholder discussions, both entity ministries of agriculture, as well as various agricultural institutes have expressed an interest to learn more about the Directive and its practical application. The EU Delegation is also aware of FARMA activities in this field and anticipates to support institutions in drafting legislation in this field, starting from 2013. Hence, this FARMA activity will complement EU Delegation efforts towards EU alignment.

Through this activity on Training of Trainers in the Nitrates Directive ORGUT contributed to the development of a critical mass of educators/extension advisers who can train farmers, and others, on the importance of the EU Nitrates Directive and facilitated its wider adoption on BiH farms through extension, policy or strategy development initiatives.

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