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On April 6, 2017, Khmilnyk hosted a founding conference of a public union “Ukrainian Organic Cluster”. The event was organized with support from PLEDDG Project. “Ukrainian organic cluster” unites a group of organic farmers and experts in organic market development. The conference was attended by manufacturers and organic food processors from Vinnytsia, Poltava, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zaporizhia, Kyiv, Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Ternopil and other regions of Ukraine, who decided to join their efforts to increase a competitive advantage of their products through increasing its value-added.

The welcoming speech was made by Tetyana Yablonska, the manager of “Ukrainian Organic Cluster”, who described the Cluster’s activities. The conference attendees were also welcomed by representative from Khmilnyk city council and PLEDDG experts Kadie Ward and Valeriy Kokot. Hanna Antoniuk, an expert from an NGO “Consultative and Training Center AgroLviv Consult” shared with the participants the idea of the Cluster, its structure and relations with its stakeholders.

In the course of a lively discussion, the participants deliberated over the factors that should be considered while exporting organic produce, how to start organic farming and receive European certificates of conformity. They also discussed a strategy for Cluster’s development and priority tasks. Among the objectives of Ukrainian organic cluster, identified by the participants, was encouraging the use of available resources, involving direct investment for Cluster’s members, competitive growth of organic farmers, the expansion into new markets, defending and lobbying of interests of Cluster’s members and building relationships with external partners. Following the discussion and presentations, participants proceeded to an election of the management of Ukrainian organic cluster.

Also, participants had an opportunity to learn from international experience of creating and operating organic clusters. Giedrius Bagušinskas, Director of the Lithuanian association of food product exporters “Litmea”, shared the experience of Lithuanian cluster. The following day a press-conference was held in the Ukrainian crisis media center, during which Ukrainian organic cluster and Lithuanian association of food product exporters “Litmea” signed a Memorandum of Cooperation.

After the conference, there was an organic food fair where Cluster’s members presented their organic products.