Although organic agriculture often produces lower yields on land that has recently been farmed conventionally, it can outperform conventional practices—especially in times of drought—when the land has been farmed organically for a longer time. Conventional agricultural practices often degrade the environment over both the long and short term through soil erosion, excessive water extraction, and biodiversity loss.
Organic farming can contribute to sustainable food security by improving nutrition intake and sustaining livelihoods in rural areas, while simultaneously reducing vulnerability to climate change and enhancing biodiversity. Sustainable practices associated with organic farming are relatively labour intensive. Organic agriculture uses up to 50% less fossil fuel energy than conventional farming, and common organic practices—including rotating crops, applying mulch to empty fields, and maintaining perennial shrubs and trees on farms—also stabilize soils and improve water retention, thus reducing vulnerability to harsh weather patterns. On average, organic farms have 30% higher biodiversity, including birds, insects and plants, than conventional farms do.
Certifications for organic agriculture are increasingly concentrated in wealthier countries. Sustainable food production will become increasingly important in developing countries, as the majority of population growth is concentrated in the world’s poorest countries. Non-certified organic agriculture in developing countries is practiced by millions of indigenous people, peasants and small family farms involved in subsistence and local market-oriented production.
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