Walloon organic continues to progress, at a slow pace

HASAs of December 31, 2021, Wallonia has listed 1,969 farms under organic control (100% organic or mixed organic-conventional), i.e. 15.5% of the farms in Wallonia. In 2021, 68 farms opted for organic, which represents an increase of 3.6% compared to 2020 (+5% in 2020), highlights Biowallonie, the organic management structure, in its annual report published in early June .

In 10 years, around 1,000 new farms have opted for this mode of production (figure 1).

The useful agricultural area (SAU) dedicated to organic is increasing by 2.3% (+7% in 2020). UAA under organic control amounts to 92,008 ha (+ 2,057 ha), ie 12.4% of the total UAA in Wallonia (figure 1). Of this total, 10,024 ha are being converted. Since the end of 2010, organic areas have doubled in our region.

Figure 1: Evolution of area and number of organic farms in Wallonia. (Biowallonia)

Furthermore, the average agricultural area of ​​an organic farm is 46.7 ha, ie around 11 ha less than the Walloon average.

Strong progress in horticultural and fruit crops

Following the negative trend in the number of organic herbivores (-1%), the area dedicated to meadows is progressing very slowly. Only 299 ha of pastures were under organic control in 2021, that is, a jump of 0.4%. Three quarters of these areas are located in the provinces of Luxembourg and Liège. 89% of organic or conversion pastures are permanent; the balance consisting of temporary meadows.

Even though meadows represent three-quarters of Wallonia’s organic agricultural landscape, their proportion declines from year to year in favor of the large crops needed to feed livestock and meet the growing demand of the organic food market, specifies Biowallonie. However, this proportion remains high due to the large number of farms with certified organic livestock, but also due to the specificity of the sector, which requires a large area of ​​pastures to guarantee maximum forage self-sufficiency on the farms.

O great cultures (cereals, forage, potatoes, oilseeds and protein crops) continued to grow (+6%), with more than 1,200 new ha. This growth follows the growing demand for organic cereals, both food and fodder.

36% of large organic crops are located in the province of Luxembourg. The provinces of Namur (25%) and Liège (15%), Hainaut (15%) and Walloon Brabant (9%) follow.

In 2021, 47% of organic crops are cereals and the like, with the most common being spelt, wheat, oats, barley and triticale (in order of importance). These five cereals represent 88% of the cereals grown organically in 2021. Mixed cereals and pulses, among others, represent 34% of the total; forages follow with 11%. Finally, potatoes, oilseeds, protein crops and other industrial crops occupy 8% of Wallonia’s organic land.

O vegetables increased by 16% between 2020 and 2021. This represents 364 new ha, for a total of 2,659 ha. The organic garden areas in Wallonia are distributed as follows: province of Liège (30%), Walloon Brabant (24%), Hainaut (23%), province of Namur (18%) and province of Luxembourg (5%) .

Next to fruit crops, there is a significant jump of 21%. 114 new organic hectares were listed, meeting strong consumer demand. Organic orchards and vineyards are mainly found in the province of Namur (40%). Behind, we find the province of Liège (23%), Hainaut (15%), Walloon Brabant (14%) and the province of Luxembourg (8%).

Organic grape production is developing strongly, with 33 new ha in 2021, out of a total of 165 ha. In the space of three years, this area has tripled!

the production of seeds and seedlings is progressing well (+13%) to reach 377 ha. According to Biowallonie, 85% of these areas are used for seed and seedling multiplication, 11% for seed potato production and 4% are nurseries (fruit, ornamental or forestry).

finally, the fallow lands, green manures and open-air pastures registered a growth of 9% and reached a peak of 500 ha.

The Photograph presents a summary of the evolution of the area under organic control since 2011.

Beef cattle drops dramatically

During 2021, the number of organic animals increased by 4% (all species combined).

In constant growth since 2006, the number of organic cattle fell (-2%), to reach 104,032 head (Figure 2). Three quarters of organic cattle are raised in the provinces of Luxembourg and Liège.

Figure 2: Evolution of Wallonia's organic beef sector (number of animals) between 2003 and 2021. (Biowallonia)
Figure 2: Evolution of Wallonia’s organic beef sector (number of animals) between 2003 and 2021. (Biowallonia)

Stable since 2017, the number suckler cows fell 10% in 2021. This is partly explained by the 2020 drought that led many organic farmers to sell some of their livestock instead of buying food. The second explanation is that the organic meat market remains limited, with supply exceeding demand, and prices paid to producers were very low.

O dairy industry continues to expand. More than 1,307 additional dairy cows are milked organically in Wallonia, an increase of 1.5%.

Organic pork continues to expand

As in 2020, Wallonia’s organic pork sector soared by 38%. In 2021, 14,983 fat pigs were sold. This strong increase is explained by the strong increase in the number of organic sows in 2020 (+308).

In 2021, the number of sows increased by 10%, with a total of 1,112 registered organic sows.

Organic Walloon pigs are raised mainly in Hainaut (35%) and the province of Luxembourg (34%).

Small growth in the poultry sector

The poultry industry continues to expand, driven by consumer demand. Small aviaries (250-300 animals) as well as mobile aviaries have developed greatly in the last three years.

Number of broilers (sold) shows a growth of 4% between 2020 and 2021. More than 172 thousand additional chickens were sold last year, totaling 4,082,161 units. This is the weakest increase since 2015, notes Biowallonie.

Half of the organic chickens were raised in Namur province. The provinces of Luxembourg (25%) and Liège (16%) follow.

While the chicken sector follows a relatively linear growth, the sector laying hens experienced a true “boom” between 2010 and 2020. However, its growth has slowed since then. In 2021, there were 22,426 additional laying hens (+7%). At the end of last year, the sector had around 361 thousand laying hens. Farms are spread throughout the Region, but are mainly present in the province of Namur (44%), in Hainaut (22%) and in the province of Luxembourg (21%).

The number of future layer pullets totaled 127,250 (-18%). The pullet farms are located exclusively in the province of Namur (63%) and Hainaut (37%).

The goat sector is progressing comfortably

O sheep sectorwhich has been constantly evolving since 2009, has increased by 3% in 2021. It has 25,943 animals, three quarters of which are raised in the provinces of Luxembourg and Namur.

In turn, the goat industry recorded a comfortable increase (+14%, +372 animals) compared to 2020, for a total of 3,002 head. It is the province of Liège that hosts the largest number of organic goats, with 41% of the Walloon herd.

In 2021, Wallonia also had, within its niche sectors3,500 snails, 2,837 other birds (ducks and guinea fowl), 1,496 equines (horses, dairy mares and donkeys), 249 deer (deer and fallow deer) and 101 rabbits.

Finally, organic aquaculture in Wallonia represents less than 2 t of the Fish marketed in 2021 and stable in relation to 2020. The total of urticaria certificate is 28, that is, two less than in 2020.

Walloon Brabant is making progress!

A third (30%) of Wallonia’s organic farms are located in the province of Luxembourg. The provinces of Liège (27%) and Namur (22%) follow. Hainaut and Walloon Brabant share the remaining fifth with, respectively, 14% and 7% of organic farms in Wallonia, notes Biowallonie.

It is the province of Namur that saw the greatest development of organic farms between 2020 and 2021, with 18 new organic farms on its territory. In relative numbers, Walloon Brabant saw its number of organic farms increase the most (+9%).

Biowallonie also notes that the average organic surface area per farm is almost three times greater in the province of Luxembourg than in Walloon Brabant. In fact, organic farmers in Luxembourg average 65 ha, compared to 22 ha in Walloon Brabant. Farms in Liège, Namur and Hainaut occupy an average of 47 ha, 39 ha and 31 ha. These differences can be explained by the higher proportion of meadows in the provinces of Luxembourg and Liège, as well as the lower land pressure.

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