Organic Farming and Poverty: 12 Things to Know
Article | 12 October 2015
About 75% of the world's poorest depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihood. Lower production costs and price premiums mean organic farmers can enjoy a higher income than those working in traditional agriculture.
- About 75% of the world's poorest - about 880 million men, women, and children - depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihood.
- Agriculture is an integral part of inclusive development as it is 2 to 4 times more effective in poverty reduction compared to other sectors based on the same level of investment.
- Agriculture employs over 65% of the poorest populations in developing countries and contributes about a third of gross domestic product.
- Globally, organic agriculture has increased from $18 billion in 2000 to $64 billion in 2012.
- When farmers convert from conventional to organic agriculture they face a decline in yield usually for 2 to 3 years and then their yields eventually increase.
- The amount of land being certified as organic has grown by about 1,000% from 300,000 hectares in 2001 to 3.2 million hectares in 2012.
- Organic food sales in Asia as a whole are expected to grow by 20% in the next 5 years.
- Organic farmers earn higher net incomes than conventional farmers due to lower production costs and price premiums, making them less likely to face hunger.
- Organic farming households generally spend more on their children’s education.
- As a result of excessive use of pesticides and other agrochemicals, health expenditures of conventional farmers are 56% higher than that of organic farmers.
- Conventional farming results in a decline in the carbon content of soil by about 4% over 25 years while organic crops and dairy products result in an increase in the carbon content of the soil by about 25% over the same period, which allows organic farmers to have a greater role in mitigating and reversing climate change.
- Organic agriculture is a cost-effective way of reducing poverty with the investment required per person taken out of poverty much lower than that of development programs that achieve the same goals through investment in overall economic growth.