Organic Olive Cultivation Increasing Worldwide

The organic land area used for olive cultivation across the world has almost tripled since 2004.

Organic olive grove in Italy
Apr. 3, 2019
By Isabel Putinja
Organic olive grove in Italy

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Agricultural land used for olive cul­ti­va­tion has been steadily increas­ing each year and has almost tripled in area since 2004, accord­ing to an annual sur­vey of global organic agri­cul­ture.

The twen­ti­eth edi­tion of the World of Organic Agriculture report pro­vided a detailed overview of the state of organic agri­cul­ture across the world.

Using data from 181 coun­tries, the sur­vey revealed that 2017 (the last year for which data was avail­able) was a record year for global organic agri­cul­ture.

See Also: Organic Olive Oil News

Not only has the area of organic farm­land increased across the world, so has the num­ber of organic pro­duc­ers, while the organic retail mar­ket con­tin­ues to grow in size.

Agricultural land ded­i­cated to organic pro­duc­tion now cov­ers about 173 mil­lion acres of the earth’s farm­land and is cul­ti­vated by 2.9 mil­lion farm­ers. The amount of organic pro­duce sold world­wide rep­re­sented a total value of $97 bil­lion in 2017.

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The sur­vey also pro­vides insights into which crops are cul­ti­vated on organic agri­cul­tural land. Nearly 2.2 mil­lion acres of the world’s organic farm­land was used for olive cul­ti­va­tion in 2017. This has increased almost three­fold from 778,000 acres in 2004, when data on how crop­land is used was first col­lected.

Twenty per­cent of the world’s total organic agri­cul­tural land was used for olive cul­ti­va­tion, accord­ing to the report. Olives fall under the cat­e­gory of per­ma­nent crops, which along with dry pulses and veg­eta­bles expe­ri­enced growth of more than 15 per­cent com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year.

In 2017, 8.3 per­cent of the earth’s olive groves were under organic pro­duc­tion.

A closer look at the detailed geo­graph­i­cal data revealed that almost 70 per­cent of the world’s organic olive groves are in Europe, fol­lowed by North Africa with nearly 30 per­cent – almost entirely (99 per­cent) in Tunisia.

Tunisia is actu­ally the coun­try with the largest organic land area ded­i­cated to olive cul­ti­va­tion, with more than 629,000 acres. This is fol­lowed by Italy with 570,000 acres and Spain with 480,000 acres, while Turkey with 202,000 acres and Greece with 124,000 acres fol­low in fourth and fifth place.

Figures pre­sented in the sur­vey reveal other inter­est­ing facts as well: 15.5 per­cent of Tunisia’s olive groves are organic, com­pared to only eight per­cent in Spain, the world’s largest olive pro­ducer.

A closer look at France, one of the world’s smaller pro­duc­ers, showed it has the largest share of organic olive groves: 27.3 per­cent of its olive pro­duc­tion is cer­ti­fied as organic. Organic cul­ti­va­tion is also big in Slovenia and Italy, where slightly more than 20 per­cent of olive groves are organic, while Cyprus comes in at fifth, after Tunisia, with 14.6 per­cent.

Coming back to Tunisia, it also stands out as the coun­try with the largest organic agri­cul­tural area in Africa, with 757,000 acres. In 1999, it was the first African coun­try to put in place an organic reg­u­la­tion while adopt­ing a national pro­gram to increase organic pro­duc­tion. In the past 10 years, it has seen an increase in organic exports and Tunisia is one of 10 coun­tries that expe­ri­enced the high­est increase in organic agri­cul­tural land in 2017.

Europe has expe­ri­enced a 92-per­cent increase in organic olive cul­ti­va­tion in the past 10 years. Only 10 per­cent of its total organic per­ma­nent crop­land is used for olive cul­ti­va­tion, but it is still the con­ti­nent with the largest organic land area used for olives: 1.46 mil­lion acres of crop­land are cov­ered in organic olive groves.

In Africa, this comes to 635,000 acres, almost all of which is in Tunisia, while in Latin America 64,000 acres are used for organic olive cul­ti­va­tion. Organic olive groves in Asia cover nearly 41,000 acres, while in North America the area is a mod­est 1,800 acres.

Cropland ded­i­cated to the organic cul­ti­va­tion of olives is con­tin­u­ing to grow glob­ally. There was an 8.3 per­cent increase between 2016 and 2017, and this is bound to con­tinue increas­ing as 18 per­cent of agri­cul­tural land used for olives is cur­rently in con­ver­sion and on the way to becom­ing fully organic.





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