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Organic Agriculture in Latin America - data 2017

Current status

In 2017, 8 million hectares were reported as being under organic production, which is 1.1 percent of the total agricultural land in Latin America and the Caribbean. Eleven percent of the world’s organic agricultural land is in Latin America and the Caribbean. More than 500’000 hectares more were reported than in 2016, continuing the growth of the region after six years of drops. This growth can be attributed to a major increase, mainly of grassland/grazing areas, in Argentina and Uruguay (over 200’000 hectares each). The organic area has doubled since 2000 (over 4 million hectares). The country with the largest organic agricultural area was Argentina with 3.4 million hectares, and the country with the largest number of producers is Mexico with more than 210’000. The highest proportion of the total agricultural area being organic was reached in Uruguay with 13 percent, closely followed by French Guiana with 10 percent.

Land use

Land use details were available for 80 percent of the organic agricultural land. In 2017, only six percent of all organic farmland was utilized for arable crops (almost 446’000 hectares); while almost 61 percent was grassland/grazing areas (4.9 million hectares). Permanent crops were grown in almost 980’000 hectares (12 percent of the organic area in the region), and for 21 percent of the reported area, no details were available. Argentina (almost 3 million hectares), Uruguay (almost 1.9 million hectares), and the Falkland Islands/Malvinas (almost 32’000 hectares) had the largest permanent grassland/grazing areas.
The key organic arable crops are cereals, with almost 154’000 hectares, representing 34 percent of the organic arable area of Latin America and Caribbean, and 0.3 percent of the total cereal area in the region. Most of the cereals were grown in Bolivia (87’000 hectares, mainly quinoa and amaranth), Mexico (40’000 hectares, mainly wheat and grain maize) and Argentina (over 18’000 hectares, mainly wheat). The key organic cereal in the region was quinoa (almost 87’000 hectares) representing more than 53 percent of all the quinoa grown in the region. Organic sugarcane was grown on more than 67’000 hectares in 2017, 0.5 percent of the total sugarcane in the region, with the key producing countries being Paraguay (over 41’000 hectares) and Argentina (almost 14’000 hectares).
The main organic permanent crops were coffee (almost 422’000 hectares), cocoa (over 230’000 hectares), and tropical and subtropical fruits (almost 187’000 hectares). Organic coffee represented 8 percent of the total coffee area in the region and 47 percent of the world’s organic coffee. The countries with the largest organic coffee areas were Mexico (231’000 hectares), Peru (110’000 hectares), and Honduras (23’500 hectares). Furthermore, 12.5 percent of the cocoa area in Latin America is organic. More than 60 percent of the world’s organic cocoa area and some of the countries with the largest organic cocoa areas are in Latin America. The Dominican Republic is by far the country with the largest area, with 159’000 hectares, followed by Peru (almost 25’600 hectares), and Ecuador (more than 15’000 hectares). Organic bananas and avocados are the key tropical fruits grown in the region (nearly 50’000 hectares each), 4.1 percent of the regional banana area is organic, and organic avocados represent 14.3 percent of the total avocados area in the region. The countries with the largest organic banana area are the Dominican Republic (almost 22’000 hectares) and Ecuador (over 14’000 hectares); these two countries represent almost a quarter of the regional organic banana area.

Producers

Almost 460’000 organic producers were recorded in Latin America and the Caribbean, in 2017. The countries with the most organic producers are Mexico (210’000), Peru (over 87’000), and Paraguay (over 58’000). It can be assumed that the number of producers is higher because some countries only report the number of farm enterprises/companies.

Wild collection

In Latin America and the Caribbean, organic wild collection plays an important role. There are almost 4.2 million hectares of organic wild collection areas. They are mainly used for the collection of wild fruits (1.2 million hectares) and wild nuts (more than 0.9 million hectares), wild berries (93’000 hectares), palmito (almost 68’000 hectares), and rose hips (over 60’000 hectares). Beekeeping areas represent almost 10 percent of the region’s organic wild collection area, almost 420’000 hectares. The countries with the largest organic wild collection areas are Mexico (almost 1.3 million hectares, mainly wild fruits), Brazil (1.2 million hectares, data 2011), Bolivia (0.9 million hectares, data 2014), and Argentina (over 0.3 million hectares, mainly beekeeping). Information on wild collection is not available for many countries, so it can be assumed that the total organic wild collection area is higher than that presented here.

Source: The World of Organic Agriculture 2019

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