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General data background

At this page some general background information that needs to be considered when looking at the data as published by FIBL and IFOAM is presented. 

Organic areas

Organic agricultural land and other organic areas 2008. Source: FiBL and IFOAM Survey 2010. Graph: FiBL

In the 'organic area tables' we are showing the following categories of organic land: 

  • Agricultural land: This is the land used for agriculture. When calculating the percentage of the organic agricultural land of the total agricultural land, this figure is used. It should be noted that not for all organic agriculture statistics this distinction can be made.

Further areas:

  • Aquaculture
  • Grazing areas on non-agricultural land
  • Forest
  • Wild collection

Data from previous surveys

Compared with the first organic survey in 2000 (by the Foundation Ecology and Agriculture (SOEL ), the organically managed area has increased considerably.

At present, FiBL is in the process of analyzing data that have become available in retrospect. Details on such data revisions and updates are available at the page on data revisions at this homepage. 

Preliminary results suggest that the organically managed area worldwide has tripled since 1999. It should be noted that data communicated in the graph on the right differ from those communicated in the corresponding editions of 'The World of Organic Agriculture.'

A note on the data on the conversion status of organic land

In the framework of the latest global organic survey (2009), the local experts were asked to provide for the organically managed  land area and for all crops:

a) Total certified organically managed land;

b) Certified land in conversion;

c) Certified, fully converted land.

It should be noted that:

a) Not for all countries information on the conversion status was available;

b) Some countries only provided data on the fully converted land;

c) For some countries data were collated from several certifiers, some of which provided information on the conversion status whereas others did not.

Therefore: Neither at a country level, nor at a crop level and most of all not at the level of the geographical regions, the sum given for land under conversion and the fully converted land necessarily adds up to the total land under organic management (=conversion land, fully converted land including land for which no such details were available).

A note on the producer data

To find precise figures on the number organic farms remains difficult, as

  • some countries report the number of smallholders, and others only the numbers of companies, projects or grower groups, which may each comprise a number of producers;
  • some countries provide the number of producers per crop, and there may be overlaps for those growers who grow several crops:
  • some countries do not provide data on the producers at all.  

The global number of organic producers should consequently be treated with caution.

FiBL and IFOAM also collected data on further operator types like processors, importers and traders, smallholder groups, etc. At a global level, these data are still incomplete and are, therefore, not published at present. FiBL and IFOAM will continue to work on this issue.

Share of organically managed agricultural land

In order to calculate the percentages, the data for most countries were taken from the FAO Statistical database FAOSTAT*(as of 2005). For the European Union, most data (as of 2007) were taken from Eurostat.**

Where available, data for total agricultural land from ministries was employed (for instance US, Switzerland, and Austria), which sometimes differ considerably from those published by Eurostat or FAOSTAT.

Please note that in some cases the calculation of the shares of organically managed land, based on the Eurostat and FAOSTAT data, might differ from the organic shares obtained from ministries or local experts.

*FAOSTAT, Data Archives, the FAO Homepage, FAO, Rome at faostat.fao.org > Resources > Resourcestat

**Eurostat: Basic data – key agricultural statistics