Promotion of water protection measures in agriculture in Belarus

CCB works with ten partner organisations in Belarus to implement the project NGO Water Strategies in Belarus and Strengthening of the Civil Society. The project aims to promote sustainable water managementpolicies and practices in Belarus that contribute to good surface and ground water quality, preserved biodiversity and a better quality of life for the people.

One of the priority areas for the project is to address the problems of nutrient leakage and pesticide pollution from industrial agriculture and animal farms. Several groups are engaged in testing well water for excessive levels of nitrates, and in monitoring the water quality in rivers and streams. Pollution hotspots are identified, and discussions are initiated with the relevant authorities on how to address the main sources of pollution.

In addition to taking action against the pollution from conventional agriculture, the project is promoting organic farming as eco-friendly alternative. A new centre, Agro-Eco-Culture, has bee set up to provide expert advice, training and consultations to farmers who want to convert to organic agriculture, and advice to “datcha” owners and others with access to small plots for cultivation. Farmers can also get support in the process to have their produce certified, and in establishing direct links for marketing to consumers.

The project works to raise the awareness about the benefits of organic agriculture among the general public, interested professionals and in the educational institutions. Training materials on organic agriculture have been developed, which are already being used by students in the fields of both agriculture and management.

At the policy level, the project has been instrumental in the drafting of a law on organic agriculture. The law is now being processed in the relevant ministries, and is due to be adopted in 2015. Project partners are now engaging to also work on the technical regulations that will be needed in order to make the law operational.