There are currently about 60 hectares of modern hydroponic greenhouses in the Czech Republic. The main crop there is tomato. Greenhouse – Farma Bezdínek was built in 2018 and to date has 11 hectares of growing areas under glass. This is the largest greenhouse in the Czech Republic. From the beginning, our goal was to grow tomatoes with excellent taste and supply them to a local customer 12 months a year. At the same time, we have not missed the trend leading to a reduction in the application of pesticides in agriculture. Related to this is the effort of individual market chains to set their own stricter rules for the pesticide reisude level in fruits and vegetables. We see this as the right thing to do, because it will bring direct benefit to our customer’s health.

Considering this trend we have carried out an analysis of the European market. Thank to this, we came across several interesting examples from France and Spain, where a wide range of fruit and vegetable with a declaration of zero pesticide residues is offered through private labels. More precisely, up to the pesticide residue level of 0.01 mg / kg, which is also for organic farming and baby food. We know that the modern consumer is aware of the dangers of pesticide residues. That is why we have decided to go the route of certified free from pesticide residue production.

From the standards available in the EU, we chose the Spanish ZERYA. Today we know it was a perfect choice. Thanks to close cooperation with Javier Arizmendi (ZERYA COO), we prepared our greenhouse to this standard during 2019. At the same time, we were preparing our sister greenhouse Farma Kameničany in Slovakia for this standard. As a result, both farms were certified at the end of the year and were able to proudly label their tomatoes as free from pesticide residues.

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, TESCO helped us a lot with this declaration at the beggining. It was the first supermarket that allowed our tomatoes to be labeled with declaration of free from pesticide residues. Kaufland has also recently joined. The customer in the Czech Republic and Slovakia is thus beginning to recognize another category of fresh vegetables.

Our joureny was the inspiration for two other greenhouse farms in the Czech Republic. Despite all the difficulties, thanks to the COVID virus, we helped these greenhouses to prepare for entry into the ZERYA standard. During December 2020, the control body Baltic Control performed an initial audit and awarded the Farma Kožichovice and the Zemědělské družstvo Haňovice certification to the ZERYA standard.

Personally, I am very pleased that, thanks to the ZERYA standard, free from pesticide residue production is being developed in the Central Europe. I feel that we are only at the beginning of a long run. Nevertheless, I believe that other growers will join us soon, including a number of fruit growers. In addition, supermarket chains are beginning to recognise this category as a higher standard of quality.

Václav Psota

Responsible for ZERYA standard implementation in the Czech Republic and Slovakia

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