Where is flax used?
Oil and fiber are the main products produced from organic flax. The former one is used in beauty care products and the latter one – in fabric weaving. Flax is widely used in the following industries:
- food production;
- beauty care
In 2017-2018, flax exports decreased by 60% compared with the previous year, and September-August deliveries amounted to 23.3 thousand tons of oil flax.
The main oil flax exporters are listed below:
- Vietnam – 37%;
- EU – 33%;
- Bangladesh – 7%.
Olga Trofimtseva, the Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, believes the profitability of oil flax to be estimated between 43% and 95%, depending on cultivation technique and yields.
Organic production in Ukraine
Ukraine ranks 20th in the world by the farmlands allocated for organic agriculture, and their total area amounts to 381.2 thousand hectares.
In total, Ukraine has 294 organic farms. In Ukraine, organic crops production is focused on foreign markets – about 98% of organic products are exported.
In 2017, the share of flax exports among oil-bearing crops was 7.1%. In addition, flax was among the 7 most wanted organic forage crops for importers. Its imports were estimated at about 10 million tons, making 7% of the total.
In the organic flax market, the main competitor of Ukraine is Kazakhstan followed by Russia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Turkey, and Bulgaria.
According to the Organic Standard data, Kazakhstan exported more than 20 thousand tons of oil-bearing crops in total in 2015-2017, and the organic flax share reached 2 to 3%.
Organic flax cultivation
As for organic flax cultivation technique, it implies the obligatory land certification. Exclusively international companies like Organic Standard are licensed to conduct this evaluation in Ukraine.
In addition, the cultivar must not be chemicalized. Consequently, either mechanical treatment or biological protection means are utilized to fight pests.
Farmers treat flax seeds with a specialized mixture of microorganisms to achieve better nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus assimilation. Weed management is carried out resorting to the strict sowing method control which includes sowing depth and distance, as well as repeated soil tillage.
To carry out pest control, farmers use Trichogramma, an insect that feeds on pests’ eggs, which is applied up to 3 times during one period of vegetation. For crop rotation, it is best to sow legumes, especially soybeans.
Organic flax is a rather promising niche for growth in both domestic and foreign markets. It is used in organic clothing production, as food to lower cholesterol levels and to prevent cardiovascular disease, and as flax oil which is an ingredient in many beauty products.