Organic Agriculture More than Doubled Since 2000

Alice McKeown | Jul 23, 2009

Farmers worldwide managed 32.2 million hectares of agricultural land organically in 2007, nearly 5 percent more than in the previous year and a 118-percent increase since 2000.1 (See Figure 1.) Organic farming is now reported in 141 countries; about two thirds of this land area is in industrial countries, and nearly half of the producers are in Africa.2 Still, more than three times as much land is devoted to genetically modified crops, and less than 1 percent of the world’s agricultural land is now managed organically.3

Although there is no standard definition of organic agriculture, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements describes it as a system that “relies on ecological processes rather than the use of inputs.”4 Organic agriculture typically avoids the use of chemicals and prohibits genetically modified organisms.5

Oceania, with some 12.1 million hectares, has more than one third of the land being farmed organically, most of which is in Australia.6 (See Figure 2.) A large portion of this is pastureland, which supports significant beef production in Australia as well as meat, dairy/milk, and wool production in New Zealand.7 Important organic crops include grains in Australia, kiwis and apples in New Zealand, and high-value export crops such as vanilla and cocoa in Pacific Island countries.8

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