Win-win benefits flow from organic vineyard investments: EAFRD project helps protect rural environment and creates 30 new jobs

A combination of hard-nosed business acumen, EAFRD co-finance and personal interests in sustainable agriculture have resulted in the development of a new organic vineyard by one of Hungary’s most renowned wine makers.

Organic cultivation and husbandry involve adopting holistic approaches to reduce the use of agri-chemical inputs and minimise negative impacts on natural resources. Such systems support the EU’s strategic ‘green growth’ goals, which promote environmentally-sensitive methods to strengthen the competitiveness of agricultural, food, drink and forestry sectors.

Quality organic goods often attract premium prices and consumer demand for organically-grown rural products has steadily risen in recent decades. The ongoing outlook for EU organic producers also appears positive and Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) include various measures to help
strengthen organic production systems. Agri-environment payments also make useful contributions in this area.

This RDP assistance is available for a broad spectrum of ‘green goods’ ranging from projects like the organic poultry farm featured earlier in this brochure to other organic RDP projects from EU farms, forests, horticultural businesses and vineyards.

An example of the latter from Hungary demonstrates the win-win benefits that RDPs can help bring about, through cofinancing investments in organic production processes.

Organic Grapes

Viticulture techniques which respect the pure authentic character of grapes are appreciated by an increasing number of consumers and over 2 500 wineries in Europe produce wine made from organic grapes. This marketled incentive was a major motivating factor behind the Malatinszky winery’s decision to seek RDP support for their development of a new organic vineyard in Hungary’s grape growing Southern-Danube Region.

Managed by one of Hungary’s well known rural entrepreneurs, Csaba Malatinszky, the organic vineyard project was designed to diversify and strengthen his winery’s product range. Mr Malatinszky established his winery in 1997 and since then his status as a successful winemaker and businessman
has grown markedly. Recognised by commentators for his commitment to constantly improving the quality of his wines, Mr Malatinszky views his organic vineyard as both a sound commercial investment and also an opportunity to further his interest in low-impact land use methods.

A combination of hard-nosed business acumen, EAFRD co-finance and personal interests in sustainable agriculture have resulted in the development of a new organic vineyard by one of Hungary’s most renowned wine makers.

Totalling over €4.2 million in costs, the new organic vineyard received a RDP grant of €1 406 900 from the EAFRD. This EU funding was provided to support the project’s work in adding value to agricultural products.
Mr Malatinszky also attained a further €53 000 from local government sources for infrastructure work associated with the RDP project.

Certified Quality

Extending the total Malatinszky vine coverage to around 28 hectares, the company’s new organic vineyard complies with high organic standards and a management plan has been put in place which safeguards environmental aims while also maximising both productivity and quality goals. Low input
viticulture methodologies include sowing special ground cover plants between the vines to provide natural soil nutrients, reducing erosion pressures and limiting irrigation requirements.

Pest controls apply only organic substances and plant-based brews are also used as an alternative to agri-chemical inputs. Organic certification is on track for later in 2010 and the Malatinszky’s first commercial crop of organic RDP grapes are expected to be harvested in 2011. Work involved with the organic production systems has led to the winery creating 30 new jobs. More employment gains are also predicted in the future with Mr Malatinszky planning to build a new hotel near the vineyard in order to develop wine tourism.

This additional diversification of his rural business intends to let consumers experience for themselves each step and phase of organic production processes.

This presentation appeared in the "Examples of Projects brochure" of the The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, you can download the whole document in pdf, here.

The image used in this article is the property of malatinszky.hu