Organic Agriculture Sustained Through Economic Crisis

E.L. Beck | May 24, 2011

In 2009, organic farming was practiced on 37.2 million hectares worldwide, a 5.7 percent increase from 2008 and a 150 percent increase since 2000.1 (See Figure 1.) This includes land that is transitioning to organic production. The organic area amounted to 0.85 percent of global agricultural land in 2009.2 (By comparison, producers seeded 2 percent of agricultural land worldwide with genetically modified crops.)3

Although the term “organic agriculture” has many meanings, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements defines it as follows: “Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment.”4

Organic agriculture is practiced worldwide, but certified organic agriculture tends to be concentrated in wealthier countries. (See Table 1.) Countries belonging to the Group of 20, which has both industrial and developing economies, have 89 percent of the global certified organic agricultural area.5 (See Figure 2.) Out of 1.8 million organic producers worldwide, India leads with just over 677,000, followed by Uganda with nearly 188,000 and Mexico with nearly 129,000.6

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