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The impact of organic farming on food security in a regional and global perspective

Halberg, Niels; Sulser, Timothy B.; Høgh-Jensen, Henning; Rosegrant, Mark W. and Knudsen, Marie Trydeman (2006) The impact of organic farming on food security in a regional and global perspective. In: Halberg, Niels; Alrøe, Hugo Fjelsted; Knudsen, Marie Trydeman and Kristensen, Erik Steen (Eds.) Global Development of Organic Agriculture: Challenges and Prospects. CABI Publishing, chapter 10, pp. 277-322.

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The spread of organic and agro-ecological farming (OF) methods in developing countries has raised a debate whether a large scale adoption of OF will increase or decrease global food security. This will however depend on a number of socio-economic factors together with the relative yield levels of OF versus conventional farming systems. Relative yields again depend on a number of agro ecological factors and the characteristics of farming systems before conversion.
In areas with intensive high-input agriculture, conversion to OF will most often lead to a reduction in crop yields per ha by 20-45 % in crop rotations integrated with leguminous forage crops. In many areas with low input agricultural systems farmers have little incentive or access to use chemical fertiliser and pesticides, and yields may increase when agro ecological principles are introduced.
While present food production in theory is sufficient to cover the energy and protein needs of the global population there are still more than 740 million food insecure people, the majority of whom live in South Asia and Africa South of Sahara (SSA). This number will only decrease over the next 20 years if the present policies are changed. The food policy model IMPACT was used to project possible effects on food security of a large scale conversion to OF in Europe/North America (E/NA) and SSA. Results indicate that a conversion of approximately 50 % of E/NA agricultural area will have a 6-10 % impact on world prices on (non-meat) agricultural commodities under the assumptions of 35 % lower OF yields after conversion and 50 % higher yield growth rates compared with conventional crop yields. The indirect effect on food security in SSA would be very small up scaling experiences from case studies into scenarios for conversion of 50 % of agricultural area in SSA results in increased self-sufficiency and decreased net food import to the region. Given the assumption of higher relative yields in most organic crops compared with existing low input agriculture, there is potential for improving local food security in SSA if non-certified OF is supported by capacity building and research. More knowledge is needed, however, to confirm that these optimistic results of non-certified OF apply to large areas in SSA and other regions with low input agriculture.

EPrint Type:Book chapter
Keywords:Food security, food supply, organic, agriculture, developing countries, global, IMPACT
Subjects: Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Food systems
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF II (2000-2005) > V.1 (SYNERGY) Coordination and synergy
Denmark > DARCOF III (2005-2010) > GLOBALORG - Sustainability of organic farming in a global food chains perspective
Related Links:http://ecowiki.org/GlobalPerspective/HomePage and http://www.globalorg.org
Deposited By: Knudsen, Researcher Marie Trydeman
ID Code:9209
Deposited On:08 Sep 2006
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:34
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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