in Occitania, must fallow land be cultivated?

Nobody missed it. French supermarkets have been facing, for several weeks, a sunflower oil shortage. In question, the war in Ukraine where the country is one of the main sunflower producers in the world. In addition to being the basis of the most used vegetable oil in our day to day life, oilseeds are also essential for feeding farms. Some French farmers are even considering reorienting their farms to alleviate the food consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, betting on the cultivation of sunflowers.

In Occitania, some 100,000 hectares of moorland

Therefore, Safer Occitanie (territorial development companies and rural establishments) wants to facilitate the cultivation of vacant land in the Occitanie region. Objective: limit the dependence on France in terms of grain from Ukraine. The institution hopes to quickly mobilize 5,000 hectares of some 100,000 hectares of fallow land in the region. “A rapid development of cereal crops would be essential”, confesses Frédéric André, director of Safer Occitanie contacted by the independent opinion.

The war in Ukraine plunges us into a completely new situation because this region represents 30% of the world’s wheat and 80% of the sunflower oil cake that we use in animal feed. In the short term, this will have a very strong impact on farmers who are not self-sufficient in feeding their animals. And in the long term, there may be a deterioration of the food situation in the world […]“, explains the director of the company.

Creating a “provision agreement”

Therefore, to develop the cultivated areas, Safer Occitanie has decided to create a provision agreement “Ukraine”, especially dedicated to the current context. “The provision contract is a more flexible device than the lease, which is very protective for those who exploit land that is not theirs”, explains Frédéric André. In the case of the provision contract, the lease is established for one year and is renewable for up to 12 years. “It is a tool that we already use, 43,000 hectares of agricultural land are under this regime in Occitania”, recalls the director of Safer Occitanie.

Therefore, the company is looking for vacant lots in Occitanie that could be grown quickly to make up for any shortfall. To start the movement, the organization finances the restoration work on vacant land for an amount of 100 euros per hectare. “These lands are often colonized by undesirable bushes or plants and require rehabilitation,” explains Frédéric.

Safer Occitanie also plansexempt farmers from rent for two years, “the time in which the plots reach their maximum yield”, emphasizes the head of Safer. To go further in the spirit of solidarity, the institution will also donate the management fees it will receive in this context to an association ofhelp the ukrainians.

Anticipate food insecurity

“Farmers bear the full brunt of inflation in the prices of the grain they buy to feed their cattle, but they don’t immediately pass it on to their selling prices if they find themselves shorted. A loss for farmers is already being felt.” , ” explained Nicolas Ates, former secretary general of the Haute-Garonne Chamber of Agriculture, interviewed by the independent opinion March 14.

His concern had intensified after the adoption of a resolution by the Ukrainian government. In fact, the text prohibits the Slavic country from exporting certain essential foods, in particular cereals such as barley, corn or even fertilizers of plant or animal origin. The ban will be effective until the end of 2022, the resolution specifies.

This measure could endanger food security, even due to short circuits, because we do not know if we will have enough fertilizers and raw materials to continue with our production”, fears Nicolás Ates.

Today theconventional cultivation it is capable of feeding a town, but if the yields are divided by three or four, the distributions, logically, will also be restricted. “We must remember that we work with living beings, we need time to grow a culture. It is impossible for us to produce the same quantity of raw materials supplied by Ukraine and Russia in a few months”, recalls the general secretary of the Upper Garonne Chamber of Agriculture.

Application for agroecological transition in France

On March 10, 28 environmental organizations, including Greenpeace France and Générations Futures, sent a letter to Emmanuel Macron suggesting a agroecological transition in France. The organizations denounce the instrumentalization of the war in Ukraine by the representations of a Productivist agriculture and call for a rethink of agriculture.

Their complaints are aimed at getting rid of dependence on Ukraine and Russia in terms of importing raw materials.

The current situation vividly illustrates the extent to which European food and agriculture, and industrial agriculture in particular, are dependent on imports: synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, made from gas and oil partly imported from Russia, are seeing their prices skyrocket. prices. The same goes for grains and oilseeds imported from Ukraine for animal feed, on which herders depend,” they write.

The organizations thus demand a true “agroecological transition” that is compatible with the autonomy of farmers to promote food sovereignty in the country.

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