The Organic Agriculture Approach
Commonly the term organic farming or organic agriculture is used. But in some countries people like to use biological farming, biological agriculture, ecological farming, ecological agriculture or ecofarming, which all mean the same.
Acreage and market
To give you an idea about the organic farming background in Germany: By the end of 2012, about 23,032 organic farmers cultivated 1,034,355 ha. The total market turnover of organic products was about 7.0 billion EUR (7,040,000,000 EUR) in 2012.
At European Union 27 level, the certified organic and in-conversion area covered 9.6 million ha and represented 5.4 % of the Utilised Agricultural Area in 2011 (almost 270,000 farms).
According "The World of Organic Agriculture" booklet by FiBL and IFOAM (2013) more than 37 million ha are farmed organically worldwide in 2011. In 2010, the market value of organic products worldwide reached 63 billion US dollar, the largest share of organic products being marketed in Europe (Germany, France, UK) and North America (USA). For more information on organic agriculture statistics, market share and acreage in Europe and worldwide see Foundation Ecology & Agriculture.
Definitions and links
There are many different definitions, though they usually cover the same issues. Below only some essentials are cited derived from different homepages, where you can also find more information:
"Organic agriculture is holistic production management systems which promotes and enhances agroecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. Organic production systems are based on specific and precise standards of production which aim at achieving optimal agro-ecosystems which are socially, ecologically and economically sustainable" FAO.
"Organic farming respects the environment own systems for controlling pests and disease in raising crops and livestock and avoids the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilisers, growth hormones, antibiotics or gene manipulation. Instead, organic farmers use a range of techniques that help sustain ecosystems and reduce pollution.
Organic farmers in the European Union are entitled to claim agri-environmental premiums since it is recognised that this particular farming system benefits the environment. In addition, organic farming can be promoted through investment aid in the area of primary production, processing and marketing" European Commission.
"Organic agriculture is based on the principles of health, of ecology, of fairness and of care. Agriculture is one of humankind's most basic activities because all people need to nourish themselves daily. History, culture and community values are embedded in agriculture. The organic agriculture principles apply to agriculture in the broadest sense, including the way people tend soils, water, plants and animals in order to produce, prepare and distribute food and other goods. The organic agriculture principles concern the way people interact with living landscapes, relate to one another and shape the legacy of future generations" IFOAM.
"The guiding principle of organic farming is management in harmony with nature. Here, the agricultural holding is mainly perceived as an organism comprising the components man, flora, fauna and soil. Organic farming aims to
- achieve a closed nutrient cycle on the farm,
- establish its own feed and nutrient basis,
- preserve and enhance soil fertility and
- keep animals in a manner conductive to their welfare.
Organic farming is specifically geared to sustainability. It conserves and protects natural resources to a major extent, whilst having diverse positive effects on the environment." Federal Ministry of Agriculture Germany
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Date 4.01.2014 www.agroexpertise.de