Can Organic Farming Feed The World?

Organic farming is focused on issues such as soil health, material cycles, crop rotation, mixed cultivation and the use of beneficial organisms, and has provided important learningsfor conventional agriculture. On its own, however, it is not suitable to feed a rapidly growing world population.

Depending on the fruit, vegetable or cereal in question, according to a study for Germany, yields of organically produced foods are between 20 percent and 50 percent lower; only in the cases of hay and silage plants for animal feed are they up to 9 percent higher.

In its “Timetable for the Agricultural Revolution”, for example, Greenpeace assumes that agricultural yields in Germany would decrease by 40 percent on average if production was completely converted to organic farming.

Agricultural scientists from Humboldt University in Berlin and agripol, however, calculated in a 2013 study sponsored by the industrial association Agrar that in the event of full conversion to organic farming, for example, 12.1 million fewer tons of wheat would be produced in Germany yearly.

That is equivalent to the amount that 184 million people (the combined populations of Germany, France and Poland) need for their food every year. The harvest losses in the case of potatoes would be equivalent to the quantity eaten by 155 million people per year.

If the 12-month breaks in cultivation required by organic farming were also taken into account, this gap would increase even more. In other words, a world fed exclusively on organically grown food would need dramatically larger areas of arable land - land that quite simply does not exist.

Nonetheless, organic farming is an option for many farmers and consumers today. That’s why Bayer also develops products that can be used in organic farming as well.

Back to Homepage