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Organic Agriculture in Asia - data 2017

Current status

The area of organic agricultural land in Asia is almost 6.1 million hectares, which is 0.4 percent of the total agricultural area in the region. Nine percent of the global organic agricultural land is in Asia. Since 2001 (420’000 hectares), the organic land has grown over fourteen-fold. Between 2016 and 2017, the organic area in Asia increased by over 1.2 million hectares or 25 percent. The country with the largest organic agricultural area is China (3 million hectares), and the country with the most producers is India (835’000 producers). The countries with the highest organic shares of the total agricultural land are Timor-Leste (8.2 percent) and Sri Lanka (6 percent).

Land use

In Asia, 45 percent of all organic farmland was used for arable crops (2.7 million hectares) in 2017, 13 percent (nearly 809’000 hectares) for permanent crops, and 18 percent for grassland/grazing areas (over 1 million hectares). Land use information was not available for 24 percent of the agricultural land, so we can assume that each category has a larger share of the total organic land.
Cereals comprise the key organic arable crop group (mainly wheat and rice), with over 1.1 million hectares, representing 0.3 percent of the total cereal area in Asia. Most organic cereals were grown in China (over 900’000 hectares) and Kazakhstan (more than 65’000 hectares). Oilseeds (mainly soybeans) are also an important crop group grown on at least 341’000 hectares (mainly in China and India) and represented 0.6 percent of the total oilseed area in Asia. The key organic cereals were rice, grain maize and wheat. Organic rice represented 42 percent of the total organic cereal area and, together with wheat (27 percent) and grain maize (14.5 percent), represented almost 84 percent of the total organic cereal area in Asia. Organic rice was mainly grown in China (322’000 hectares), constituting 68 percent of the total organic rice in the region. The largest organic wheat areas were also in China (143’000 hectares) followed by Kazakhstan (over 19’000 hectares), representing almost all of the total organic wheat area in Asia.
Most of the organic permanent crop land was used for coconuts (over 213’000 hectares), tea (109’500 hectares), coffee (almost 82’000 hectares), and tropical and subtropical fruits (nearly 71’000 hectares). The Philippines had the largest organic coconut area, with almost 150’000 hectares, representing 70 percent of the total organic coconut area of the region. Most of the organic coffee in Asia was grown in Indonesia, where over 46’000 hectares were reported, followed by Timor-Leste (31’000 hectares); both countries represented 95 percent of the organic coffee area in Asia. Organic coffee represented 3.1 percent of the total coffee in Asia. Almost 3.1 percent of the total tea grown in Asia was organic; most of it was in China (90’000 hectares) followed by Myanmar (almost 8’000 hectares).

Producers

In 2017, 1.1 million organic producers were reported in Asia. India is the country with the most organic producers (835’000), followed by the Philippines (166’000). Unfortunately, many countries do not report the number of producers or only report the number of companies; thus it is assumed that the number of producers is higher. Since 2004, when there were 100’000 organic producers, the number has increased over eleven-fold.

Wild collection

In 2017, 4.4 million hectares of organic wild collection were reported in Asia. Unfortunately, detailed data is available for only 3 percent of the reported area. From the details available, wild nuts (almost 45’000 hectares) and wild medicinal plants (18’000 hectares) are the key commodities. Furthermore, bee pastures (over 56’000 hectares) play an important role. India is the country in the region with the largest organic wild collection area, with 1.8 million hectares, followed by China (1.3 million hectares), and Tajikistan (1 million hectares).

Market

In Asia, organic market data is not available for most of the countries, but we can assume that the market is continually growing. Seven countries (less than 20 percent of the countries with organic data) provided organic retail sales values. From the data available, we can assume that at least 9.6 billion euros of organic products were sold in Asia. For China, 7.6 billion euros were reported for 2017, making the country the world’s fourth largest market for organic products. Furthermore, Japan has a large organic domestic market valued, 1.4 billion euros, and South Korea reported a market of 330 million euros.

Source: The World of Organic Agriculture 2019

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