Organics in Mexico
According to the U.S. Agricultural Counselors office in Mexico City, Banamex, a large Mexican bank, reported that organic agricultural production in Mexico has reached 50,000 hectares (124,000 acres). Of this area, 30,000 hectares (74,100 acres) are in coffee, while the rest are dedicated to apples, beans, vanilla and a wide array of other products that sell for premium prices in export markets. Although total acreage dedicated to organic farming in Mexico is relatively small, demand for these products in developed countries is growing. The report emphasized that Mexico should plan to further develop its organic agriculture to capture the benefits of this growth sector. The report also highlighted the need for research and extension services for organic farmers, and the need for government aid and financial incentives for farmers interested in organic farming.
Agricultural business experts from Banamex said that those who are involved in organic farming and who sell to foreign markets are in a very attractive financial niche. They foresee that in the long run, countries will arrive at a consensus to accept certification agencies and criteria that will harmonize quality and production standards on a world-wide scale.
Organic Kiwifruit in New Zealand
Production of certified organic kiwifruit in New Zealand has grown rapidly through the 1990's, and now constitutes less than 2 percent of the total crop. During the 1998 season, 959,000 trays (1 tray = 3.6 kg or 7.9 lbs.) of Class I organic kiwifruit, 40,000 trays of Class II organic kiwifruit, and 767,000 trays of transitional fruit were sold. (The main difference between Class I and Class II is cosmetic.)
The organic premium was 42 percent for Class I organic fruit which averaged NZ$9.20 (US$4.88) per tray compared to NZ$6.48 ($US3.43) per tray for conventional/KiwiGreen Class I fruit. (Most New Zealand kiwifruit is grown under the "KiwiGreen" orchard management system which involves close monitoring of pests and application of chemical controls only when needed instead of by the calendar.) Historical data for the 1990s indicate the organic premium has ranged from 27 percent to 89 percent over the period (see table).
Production and Price - Class I Organic Kiwifruit, 1991-1998
* 1 tray = 3.6 kg or 7.9 lbs.
Kiwifruit is not a particularly difficult crop to grow organically, given its tough skin and natural resistance to many pathogens. Organic kiwifruit production costs average 10 to 20 percent above those for conventional production. Organic orchardists often buy fertilizer from certified fertilizer producers rather than making their own or to supplement their own production, and they apply it at 1.5 to 2 times the rate of conventional fertilizers. Savings gained from eliminating chemical inputs are offset by purchases of Bt and mineral oil sprays which are accepted organic pest control substances.
"Organics in Argentina" Presentation
A presentation entitled "Organics in Argentina" given at the Summit on Organic Food Technology 99 on May 19, 1999, by Randall Hager, Agricultural Attache, Buenos Aires is now available on the Internet at: www.usia.gov/abtusia/posts/AR1/wwwh0516.html
For more news on organics, see HTPs monthly newsletter "Organic Perspectives," available at the HTP home page: http://www.fas.usda.gov/htp/organics/organics.html
The newsletter contains reports on organics from around the world gleaned from attache reports, trips made by HTPs organics staff, and other sources. The newsletter also covers items of interest about the U.S. national organic program and the domestic organic industry. A list of upcoming conferences, trade shows and other events is included in every issue.
(For further information, contact Janise Zygmont (analysis) at 202-720-1176 or Kelly Strzelecki (marketing) at 202-690-1341.)