The term “organic revolution” denotes the shift towards sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural practices, avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilisers. This movement gained momentum as consumers became more conscious of their health, the environment, and the quality of the food they consume.

The roots of the organic movement can be traced back to the early 20th century. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that the movement gained significant traction. Pioneers such as Rachel Carson, author of “Silent Spring,” brought attention to the environmental impacts of pesticides, sparking a renewed interest in organic farming.

Global trends

According to the latest data from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the global organic agricultural area has expanded by 50 per cent in the past decade. More than 76.4 million hectares were organically managed at the end of 2021. This represents a growth of 1.7 per cent compared to 2020. With 35.7 million hectares, Australia had the largest area under organic agriculture, followed by Argentina and France.

Over the years, organic farmland area has increased in Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania highlighting the growing status of the organic food sector as a lucrative market. Slightly less than half of the global organic agricultural land was in Oceania with 35.9 million hectares followed by Europe and Latin America.

Consumer awareness, demand

The surge in consumer demand for organic products is a driving force behind the organic revolution. 3.7 million organic producers were reported in 2021, an increase of 4.9 per cent from 2020. At 1.6 million, India remained the country with the most organic producers.

Organic farming practices prioritise soil health, biodiversity, and sustainable land management. Organic agriculture has the potential to contribute significantly to mitigating climate change, preserving water resources, and maintaining soil fertility.

In 2021, global organic food sales amounted to about $132.74 billion, whereas it was just $18 billion in 2000. In 2021, In India alone there were nearly 1.6 million organic food producers, more than any other country.

North America holds a substantial share, representing nearly half of global organic food retail sales. This region stands as the second-largest market for organic food globally, following Europe. The United States predominantly contributes to this share. Since 2008, organic food has consistently claimed an increasing proportion of total food sales in the United States. Notably, in 2020, organic food accounted for approximately six per cent of the overall food sales in the United States.

Way forward

While the organic revolution has gained substantial ground, it faces its share of challenges. The cost of organic certification and the scalability of organic farming operations are persistent concerns.

Governmental support and regulations

Governments worldwide are recognising the importance of supporting organic agriculture. In the European Union, the Common Agricultural Policy allocates funds to promote organic farming practices. In the United States, the National Organic Program (NOP) sets the standards for organic certification, ensuring that products labeled as “organic” meet specific criteria.

Indian organic market

India’s organic food market has experienced remarkable growth post-pandemic. According to a survey conducted in 2022 across 187 countries practicing organic agriculture, as reported by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), India boasts the cultivation of organic food across 2.6 million hectares, ranking it as the fifth-largest globally. The data further indicates that the proportion of land dedicated to organic farming in the overall agricultural landscape is 1.5 per cent. Over the past decade, India has witnessed a substantial increase of 145.1 per cent in the land allocated to organic agriculture.

In alignment with this growth, the Economic Survey for the fiscal year 2022-2023 highlighted that India is home to 4.43 million organic farmers, establishing the country as a global leader in terms of organic farming practitioners.

As per APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority), Ministry of Commerce and Industries, India produced around 2.9 million tonnes (2022-23) of certified organic products, including oilseeds, fibre, sugarcane, cereals and millets, cotton, pulses, aromatic and medicinal plants, tea, coffee, fruits, spices, dry fruits, vegetables, and processed foods. This sector’s production extends beyond edible goods to include organic cotton fibre and functional food products.

Madhya Pradesh has emerged as the leading state in organic production, with significant contributions from Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Odisha. When considering specific commodities, fibre crops stand out as the largest category, succeeded by oilseeds, sugar crops, cereals and millets, medicinal/herbal and aromatic plants, spices and condiments, fresh fruits and vegetables, pulses, and tea and coffee. This broad spectrum highlights the diverse and expansive nature of organic agriculture in these regions.


Emerging economies present significant opportunities for the organic market. According to a market research report by Grand View Research, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to witness the fastest growth in the organic food market over the next five years. While the organic market growth appeared to slow down in 2022, the momentum for the organic sector has continued to build around the world. Numerous nations have sustained or introduced supportive measures for organic agriculture, unveiling new strategies or policies to stimulate its development. This is reflected in the rise in globally implemented national regulatory frameworks for organics, now totalling 74.

As we look ahead, the future of the organic revolution appears promising. Advancements in technology, such as precision agriculture and agro-ecology, are expected to enhance the efficiency and productivity of organic farming. In addition to this, ongoing research into organic farming methods aims to address scalability challenges, making organic agriculture a viable option for meeting global food demands sustainably.

The author is co-founder at Organic Roots