Environment and Natural Resources Service Sustainable Development Department

Organic agriculture, environment and food security

edited by
Nadia El-Hage Scialabba and Caroline Hattam


FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
Rome, 2002

CHAPTER 1
GENERAL CONCEPTS AND ISSUES IN ORGANIC AGRICULTURE

CHAPTER 2
ORGANIC AGRICULTURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

CHAPTER 3
CERTIFIED ORGANIC AGRICULTURE - SITUATION AND OUTLOOK

CHAPTER 4
NON-CERTIFIED ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

CHAPTER 5
LESSONS FROM CERTIFIED AND NON-CERTIFIED ORGANIC PROJECTS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

CHAPTER 6
ORGANIC AQUACULTURE - CURRENT STATUS AND FUTURE PROSPECTS

CHAPTER 7
FARMERS INNOVATIONS, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND THE ECOLOGICAL MANAGEMENT IN ORGANIC AGRICULTURE

REFERENCES


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ISBN 92-5-104819-3

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© FAO 2002



For hard copies:
Organic agriculture, environment and food security
Environment and Natural Resources Series No. 4
Rome, 2002, 258 pp.
ISBN 92-5-104819-3
ISSN 1684-8241
TC/M/Y4137/E
US$30.00
E-mail for orders and queries: Publications-Sales@fao.org
Tel: (39) 06 57053215; Fax: (39) 06 57053360


Organic agriculture, environment and food security
Edited by Nadia El-Hage Scialabba and Caroline Hattam
258 pp, 17 figures, 27 tables, Environment and Natural Resources Series No. 4
FAO, Rome, 2002

ABSTRACT

Organic agriculture is defined as an environmentally and socially sensitive food supply system. This publication examines its many facets, looking at the contribution of organic agriculture to ecological health, international markets and local food security. It builds on empirical experiences throughout the world and analyses the prospects for a wider adoption of organic agriculture. Numerous scenarios depicted in this publication represent the millions of people from all social and economic backgrounds who have adopted this new agrarian ethic on the integrity of food. An introduction to the general concepts of organic agriculture includes an overview of its agronomic, economic, social and institutional performance. Further, the publication presents scientific evidence of the impact of organic agriculture on environmental goods and services and offers an evaluation of its possible contribution to the implementation of international environmental agreements. It also reviews the current status, trends and prospective development of certified organic agriculture production and trade. The important contribution of resource-poor peasants and indigenous farmers to non-certified organic agriculture is highlighted and reviewed. Specific examples of how organic agriculture improves agricultural productivity and rural livelihoods are presented, along with lessons for scaling up positive experiences. The emerging sector of organic aquaculture is described, and its potential is discussed. Finally, case studies from Brazil, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Thailand and Uganda show how traditional knowledge, social mobilization and agro-ecological approaches have been used to restore degraded natural resources while producing food. The small farmers who seek fully integrated food systems are given recognition throughout the publication. They, along with the consumers who are creating market-based incentives for ecological management of agricultural systems, are at the centre of the “organic movement”. The publication discusses the weakness of institutional support for nurturing existing knowledge and exchange in organic agriculture, support that could further enhance organic agriculture’s positive impact on the natural and human environments.

Keywords: organic agriculture, organic aquaculture, agro-ecology, ecological management, resource-poor farmers, community development, rural livelihoods, international trade, markets, food security, food supply chains.

This series replaces the following:

Lists of documents in the above series and other information can be found on the web sites: www.fao.org/sd; www.fao.org/organicag



PREPARATION OF THIS DOCUMENT

The preparation of this document involved a number of experts drawn from international institutions, research institutes, universities and non-governmental organizations who worked under the guidance of Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, Secretary of the Inter-Departmental Working Group on Organic Agriculture.

The document is based on the contributions of:

CHAPTER 2
Thomas Alföldi, Andreas Fliessbach, Uwe Geier, Lucas Kilcher, Urs Niggli, Lukas Pfiffner, Matthias Stolze and Helga Willer (Research Institute Organic Farming - FiBL), Switzerland.

CHAPTER 3
Els Wynen and David Vanzetti (Eco Landuse Systems), Australia.

CHAPTER 4
Miguel Altieri (University of Califoria, Berkeley), United States of America.

CHAPTER 5
Jules Pretty (University of Essex), United Kingdom.

CHAPTER 6
Albert Tacon (Aquatic Farms, Hawaii) and Deborah Brister (University of Minnesota), United States of America.

CHAPTER 7
Bernard Declercq (Auroville), India (Case Studies 1 and 2);
Hay Sorée, India (Case Study 3);
Taghi Farvar (Centre for Sustainable Development, CENESTA), Iran (Case Study 4);
Vitoon Ruenglertpanyakul (Green Net), Thailand (Case Study 5);
Charles Walaga (World Conservation Union IUCN) and Mary Jo Kikinda (Africa 2000), Uganda (Case Study 6);
Sergio Pinheiro (Agriculture Research and Rural Extension Cooperation – EPAGRI), Armi Maria Cardoso (Federal University of Santa Caterina), Valério Turnes (Ecological Farmers Association – Agreco), Wilson Schmidt (Federal University of Santa Caterina), Ricardo Brito (Sebrae/SC Agribussiness) and Thaise Guzzati (Agreco), Brazil (Case Study 7).

Nadia El-Hage Scialabba and Caroline Hattam edited the document, bringing additional information and modifications to the original drafts.

The editors are thankful to the insights brought by a number of peer reviewers, namely: Brian Baker (Organic Materials Review Institute, USA); Tim Marshall (Australia); Jim Riddle (Independent Organic Inspectors Association, USA); Gunnar Rundgren (Grolink, Sweden); David Hallam (FAO); Pascal Liu (FAO) and Gerold Boedeker (FAO).