Organic farming, as we know it nowadays, is the outcome of continuous analysis and synthesis of the various alternative methods for agricultural production (different to the “conventional farming”), initiated mainly in Central and Northern Europe in the beginning of the last century. Among these methods, the most important ones are considered biodynamic farming and organic farming at its earliest stage.
It is important to highlight that despite their differences, all alternative farming methods are sharing the same principle: the connection between farming and nature as well as the respect towards nature’s balance which is considered of out-most importance.
The most important milestones in the evolution of organic farming as an alternative and sustainable method of agricultural production are highlighted below:
1924 : Rudolf Steiner through his lectures in Germany sets the bases of Biodynamic Farming
1940 : Sir Albert Howard’s “Agricultural Testament” is published in England and sets the stage for Organic Farming
1940 : Development of Organic Farming in Switzerland by Hans peter Rusch and Hans Muller
1943: Lady Eve Balfour in UK, publishes the book “the living soil” and 3 years later, while being one of the cofounders of the Soil Association, she becomes the organization’s first President
1947: J.I. Rodale in the United States, is founding the Rodale Institute to promote research on organic farming, influenced by Sir Albert Howard’s and Lady Eve Balfour’s studies
1972 : Foundation of IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture)
1991 : Release of the Council Regulation (EEC) 2092/91 “on organic production of agricultural products and indications referring thereto on agricultural products and foodstuffs” and for the first time in Europe the organic farming is institutionally regulated.
Since 1991, organic farming received both European and global recognition. The enforcement of regulations regarding the production and trading as well as the Control System of organic products, increased considerably consumers’ trust, protected the producers and created a solid foundation for the rapid development of the Organic Products’ Market that followed.
1999: Provisions introduced to the existing regulation regarding the production of animal products (Regulation EC 1804/1999).
2004: Adoption of the “European Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming“, a turning point in the further development of organic farming, as it provided political support and initiated actions that highlighted the nutritional value of organic products and the contribution of organic farming to the society and the environment.
2009: Replacement of the first Regulation 2092/1991 with the new Regulations 834/2007 &889/2008
2009: Extension of the new regulations in order to include aquaculture animal and seaweed production (Regulation 710/2009).
2010: Introduction of the new EU Organic Farming Logo.
After the year 2000, many countries around the world adopted rules for production, trading and controlling of organic products, such as USA, Japan, Canada, Australia, S. Korea etc.
Nowadays, the global market of organic products has captured a considerable share of the general food market, with international sales reaching 46 billion US dollars in 2007. The European Market appears to be the strongest, representing 54% or the 25 billion US of the global revenue.. The total agricultural land managed organically exceeds the 32,2 million hectares and is managed by 1,2 million producers (Source: World of Organic Agriculture, IFOAM 2009).
In Greece, the total size of organic agricultural land exceeded 150.000 hectares in 2007 (excluding the organic pasturelands) with the number of producers having been risen to 24.000. Olive trees represent 34% of organic agricultural land (total 51.923 hectares), followed by cereal crops reaching the 26% (total land 40.021 hectares) (Source: Ministry of Rural Development and Food, 2009).