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Fri Jan 13, 2017, 04:08 PM

Agroecology booming in Argentina

Organic agriculture is rapidly expanding in Argentina, the leading agro-ecological producer in Latin America and second in the world after Australia, as part of a backlash against a model that has disappointed producers and is starting to worry consumers.

According to the intergovernmental Inter American Commission on Organic Agriculture (ICOA), in the Americas there are 9.9 million hectares (25 million acres) of certified organic crops, which is 22% of the total global land devoted to these crops. Of this total, 6.8 million ha (17 million ac) are in Latin America and the Caribbean, and three million (7.5 million ac) in Argentina alone.

The Argentine National Agricultural Health and Quality Service (SENASA) reported that between 2014 and 2015, the land area under organic production grew 10%, including herbs, vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals and oilseeds. Legumes and vegetables experienced the largest increase (200%).

There are 1,074 organic producers in Argentina, mainly small and medium-size farms and cooperatives. These still represent only 0.5% of the total cultivated area, however.

Agricultural engineer Eduardo Cerdá, vice president of the Graduate Centre of the Agronomy School at the National University of La Plata (UNLP), said there is growing interest in agroecology. “In 10 years the area receiving specialized advice (in organic farming) grew from 600 to 12,500 hectares,” he noted, adding that he and his few colleagues are not able to meet the demand.

Cerdá attributes the interest to the disappointment in the current model based on agrochemicals, which he considers to be exhausted. Pesticide use in Argentina jumped by 60% in 2016 alone, according to the Agriculture Ministry - creating an increase in reported intoxication-related illness in farming communities but with no increase in yields.

For Cerdá, agro-ecology “is not an alternative but the agriculture of the near future.”

At: http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/12/agroecology-booming-in-argentina/

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