Organic Agriculture and Post 2015 Development Goals

Many people see organic agriculture as a luxury: something that environmentalists pursue for their own ends and that the rich support in the belief that they are both helping the environment and hopefully doing some good for their health. This book shows, however, that such a view is very far from the truth, certainly as far as developing countries are concerned. A careful review of the evidence from a number of Asian countries demonstrates that organic agriculture has contributed to several of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and that it also serves the broader objective of managing the environment in a sustainable way. While it is still a very small fraction of total agriculture,1 the scope for organic agriculture to contribute to the MDGs and to their successors after 2015 (the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs]) is really quite significant.

The book makes an evidence-based case for organic agriculture in developing countries, particularly those in Southeast Asia. It starts by examining the data from organic agriculture farms, comparing them with those from non-organic agriculture farms to see what can be said about the effects of organic agriculture on the livelihoods of comparable people and in terms of the MDGs (Chapters 1, 8, and 9).

The book then goes on to look at the economic dimension of promoting organic agriculture and actual experiences in implementing it. It explores the following questions: Are the benefits of such programs justified in terms of their costs (Chapter 2)? Does certification help farmers in terms of increased incomes for their products (Chapter 3)? How well has certification worked to increase incomes and livelihoods in particular cases (Chapter 4)? Which benefits motivate farmers to adopt organic agriculture (Chapter 5)? (This is important as a guide to which policies to use to promote the practice.) Is organic agriculture the best way to improve rural livelihoods, or can we do better through other interventions, such as promoting biofuels (Chapter 6)? What are the macroeconomic impacts of promoting organic agriculture (Chapter 7)?

Following these chapters, the book looks at evidence on some of the big environmental questions related to sustainable agriculture. The first is its role in sequestering carbon, a major issue given the threats we face from climate change (Chapter 11). A second is enhancing biodiversity and preventing the loss of genetic material (Chapter 12).

Finally, the book considers some of the big issues in the debate surrounding agriculture which touch on organic agriculture in developing countries. One deals with the environmental costs of shipping agricultural products over large distances (food miles, Chapter 13). Another is whether organic agriculture does indeed lower yields and thereby reduce our capacity to feed the growing population of the planet (Chapter 14).

PART I: Poverty Reduction and Organic Agriculture 1

  • Organic Agriculture, Poverty Reduction, Climate Change, and the Millennium Development Goals 3 Sununtar Setboonsarng
  • The Costs of Achieving the Millennium Development Goals by Adopting Organic Agriculture 49
  • Anil Markandya, Sununtar Setboonsarng, Qiao YuHui, Rachanee Songkranok, and Adam Stefan
  • Can Ethical Trade Certification Contribute to the Attainment of the Millennium Development Goals? A Review of Organic and Fair-trade Certification 79 Sununtar Setboonsarng

PART II: Country Case Studies on Organic Agriculture 105

  • Market-Based Certification and Management of Non-Timber Forest Products in Bhutan: Organic Lemongrass Oil, Poverty Reduction, and Environmental Sustainability 107 Karma Yangzom, Irmela Krug, Kesang Tshomo, and Sununtar Setboonsarng
  • What Motivates Farmers to Adopt Organic Agriculture? A Case of Rainfed Organic Rice in Thailand 133 Sununtar Setboonsarng and Bhim Nath Acharya
  • Organic Crops or Energy Crops? Options for Rural Development in Cambodia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic 155 Anil Markandya and Sununtar Setboonsarng
  • Macroeconomic Impacts of Organic Agriculture: A Case Study of Thailand 197 Somchai Jitsuchon and Nuntaporn Methakunavut
  • Does Organic Agriculture Lead to Better Health among Organic and Conventional Farmers in Thailand? An Investigation of Health Expenditure among Organic and Conventional Farmers in Thailand 231 Sununtar Setboonsarng and Rouselle F. Lavado
  • Contract Farming of Organic Tea in Kandy: Social, Economic, Health, and Environmental Implications 255 L.H.P. Gunaratne
  • Comparative Efficiency of Organic and Conventional Tea and Its Rural Development Implications in Sri Lanka 279 L.H.P. Gunaratne

PART III: Organic Agriculture, the Environment, and Current Debates 291

  • Carbon Sequestration in Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Path to a Brighter Future 293 Paul Reed Hepperly and Sununtar Setboonsarng
  • Enhancing Biodiversity through Market-Based Strategy: Organic Agriculture 323 Marie Mondeil and Sununtar Setboonsarng
  • No Through Road: The Limitations of Food Miles 347 Els Wynen and David Vanzetti
  • The Myth of Declining Yields under Organic Agriculture 367 Sununtar Setboonsarng