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Organic farming worldwide: New Worldwatch Report

The Worldwatch Institute has prepared an extensive overview article about organic farming world-wide. Some of it is based on the data compiled by FiBL and IFOAM and on other findings of the book 'The World of Organic Agriculture 2009'. Furthermore a lot of other current relevant literature is cited.

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. 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. Still, more than three times as much land is devoted to genetically modified crops, and less than one percent of the world's agricultural land is now managed organically, according to the Worldwatch article.

Apart from the current statistics the article also provides a lot of background information. On the issue of climate change it says: Scientists and policy analysts are increasingly pointing to the climate change benefits of transitioning to organic agriculture. Agriculture accounts for some 30 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions annually when the effects of encroachment on forestlands are included. These emissions are expected to continue rising over the next few decades as agricultural production is expanded, chemical inputs are increased, and changing diets lead to greater meat, dairy, and egg consumption. Organic agriculture can help reverse this trend by reducing greenhouse-gas-intensive inputs, improving energy efficiency, and significantly increasing carbon sequestration in soils. Organic agriculture may also be more resilient to changing climate conditions than conventional agriculture is because it increases soil fertility, helps crops survive drought, and promotes greater biodiversity.

The references quoted can be ordered via the Worldwatch Institute subscription service.

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Helga Willer, FiBL, Frick