Organic Agriculture Contributes to Sustainable Food Security

In 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, organic farming accounted for approximately 0.9 percent of total agricultural land around the world.1 While this is still a minuscule share, since 1999 the land area farmed organically has expanded more than threefold: 37 million hectares of land are now organically farmed, including land that is in the process of being converted from conventional agricultural practices.2 (See Figure 1.)

Organic Agriculture Figure 1

The amount of organically farmed land dropped a tiny bit, by 0.1 percent, between 2009 and 2010.3 A decline in this land in India and China was almost matched by an increase in Europe. Regions with the largest organic agricultural land in 2010 were Oceania, including Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island nations (12.1 million hectares); Europe (10 million hectares); and Latin America (8.4 million hectares).4 (See Figure 2.)

Organic farming is now established in international standards, and 84 countries had implemented organic regulations by 2010, up from 74 countries in 2009.5 Definitions vary, but according to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, organic agriculture is a production system that relies on ecological processes rather than the use of synthetic inputs, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides.6

 

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