Organic agriculture is a rapidly growing sector of agriculture that focuses on the health, ecology, fairness and care of the farming process. According to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements(IFOAM) there are nearly 80 million acres of land under organic cultivation, an additional 75 million acres of wild collection areas and almost one million acres of organic aquaculture managed by 1.2 million organic producers worldwide.
Organic Agriculture, Defined
The definition of organic agriculture is under constant revision to reflect the latest science and changing market conditions. According to IFOAM, "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 and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved."
Benefits of Organic Agriculture
Organic agriculture contributes to social, economical and ecologically sustainable development in two ways. 1) Organic practices use local resources (local seed varieties, dung, etc.); and 2) The market for organic products has high potential and offers opportunities for increasing farmers' income and improving their livelihood.
Studies show the strong benefits of organic production for soil fertility, biodiversity, reduction of toxic inputs, water management, provision of healthier and more diverse food, improved livelihood opportunities and market access for small farmers and social equity.
The true potential for the future of organic agriculture is uncertain due to low research and development investments in this area. Greenpeace is calling for an investment of substantially higher shares of public as well as private research to help further evolve and mature organic practices in different agroecosystems. Organic agriculture should be a central and promoting role in agroecological farming methods.
Learn More about Organic Agriculture
CFS True Food Network
UNEP/UNCTAD report on organic ag in Africa