"Organic", "ecological" or "biological" products are obtained from an agricultural system whose objective is to produce healthy and abundant supply of food, taking care of the environment and preserving natural resources.
The demand of consumers for organic products is increasing in the world, more farmers grow organically, more land is certified organic, and 178 countries report organic farming activities. The world organic food market reached more than 72 billion euros in 2016. The United States is the leading market with 38,900 million euros, followed by Germany (9,500 million euros), France (6,700 million euros) and China (5.9 billion euros).
Argentina has 3.1 million hectares of certified organic production and ranks 2nd in the world ranking behind Australia (Figure 1). The ten countries with the largest organic agricultural areas represent 74% of the world's organic agricultural land.
Figure 1. Ten countries with the largest areas of organic agricultural land.
In Argentina there are official regulations for organic products: Law 25.127, with different decrees and resolutions that regulates organic production and its control system.
SENASA (National Health Service and Food Quality) is the competent authority in the control of compliance with official regulations on the entire production-commercial process. In addition, it enables certifying entities to control operators (producers, processors and marketers). SENASA controls the certifying entities through audits and inspections to the operators. This provides transparency, ensures quality and complies with the international requirements. There are 4 certifying bodies authorized by 2017.
Since 1996 in Argentina the area under organic production has been increasing with certain fluctuations according to the years. Animal production occupies 2,814,069 ha and of these 95% are in Patagonia (Figure 2). The largest volume of organic production, according to official statistics, is exported (99%), but 1% goes to the domestic market, which is continuously increasing.
Figure 2. Argentina. Location.
The most important destination of the production is United States, surpassing 50% of the total exported. Then, the main destination is the European Union, of which Switzerland stands out as the most important buyer, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Poland and Sweden. There are other destinations to be highlighted, such as Japan, Canada, Ecuador, Russia, Brazil, Angola, Algeria, Costa Rica, Colombia, Bolivia, Australia, Chile, China and Korea.
Among the most important productions, it can be mentioned cereals and oilseeds, such as wheat, soybeans (very required in organic form because they are not transgenic or have been cultivated without synthetic products), rice, sorghum, corn, chia, flax, barley, sunflower, peanut, oats and rapeseed.
Fruits include apples and pears as the most important horticultural crop export, citrus fruits are destined for the domestic market.
As for vegetables, the occupied hectares are scarce and the export products are mainly garlic and squash. This activity is mainly intended for sale in the domestic market, where more than 50 varieties of vegetables are distributed throughout the year in various types of commercial channels.
Animal production has not evolved in last years. Sheep production takes place in Patagonia with “dirty wool” and “top wool” products, as well as meat. There are other productions of organic animals, which are llamas, goats, guanacos and bees for honey production.
Among the industrialized products, it can be mentioned wines, soybean and wheat flours, olive oils, sunflower, and rapeseed, applesauce and pulp, dried apple, frozen strawberries, fruit juices, tea, yerba mate, among others (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Organic labeled exported products: Wine, yerba mate and apples
Domestic market grows permanently in vegetables, fruits, cereals and oilseeds and flours of various types, jams, tea, yerba mate, wines, mushrooms, aromatic herbs, sugar cane, olives, oils, juices, dry fruit, baked goods made with organic flours, cheeses, honey, etc.
Requirements for the certification of organic production are high, and for small producers are not easy to meet, that is why small groups of farmers are promoting other forms of "participatory" type certification where the control system is facilitated and cheaper and they can access this quality guarantee with a lower cost and ease.
Among the existing organizations in Argentina linked to organic production it can be mentioned the Argentine Movement for Organic Production "MAPO", created in 1995 is the most important organic Non-Governmental Organization of the country registered as a civil society without profit. It brings together all entities, people, companies or NGOs, which are related in some way to organic production, or establish contacts and agreements with small related organizations. Its associated are producers, certifiers, researchers, scientists, technicians, educators, entrepreneurs and organic marketers. This organization aims to promote organic production, disseminate and demonstrate to the community the benefits of the production system and organic food, ensuring the quality and transparency of organic markets and express themselves in defense of the organic movement and its members.
Universities do research in different topics related to organic production and also there are extension programs that give advice and trainings to farmers, families and people in general. In this regard, greater financing will be needed in the future to strengthen the sector.
SENASA. National Service of agrifood health and quality. 2016. Situation of organic production in Argentina during 2016. 43 p.
Willer, H. and J. Lernoud. 2017. Organic Agriculture worldwide 2017: current statistics. Research Institute of organic agriculture (FiBL). 38p.
Prof. Maria Claudia Dussi
Director of the Study group in Sustainable Agroecosystems, Department of Agricultural Sciences, Comahue National University, Cinco Saltos, Argentina.
Board of the LatinAmerican Scientific Society of Agroecology (SOCLA).
Orcid number: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5673-4316
Scopus Author ID: 6507881395