Importance of Organic Livestock Production: Global Scenario

Dr. Jitender Singh1, Dr. Priyam Agravat2, and Dr. M. M. Islam3

1M.V.Sc. Scholar, Department of Livestock Production Management, College of Veterinary science & A. H., Kamdhenu University, Anand, Gujarat, India

2Ph.D.Scholar, Department of Livestock Production Management, College of Veterinary Science & A. H., Kamdhenu University, Anand, Gujarat, India

3Associate Research Scientist and Head, PashupalanSanshodhan Kendra, VASREU, Kamdhenu University, RamnaMuvada, Gujarat, India


The four principles of organic agriculture are health, ecology, fairness and care. Organic livestock farming relies on organic and biodegradable inputs; therefore, health-conscious people are looking for environmentally safe and chemical residue free healthy food. It also ensures animal welfare and sustainability. It can be accomplished by providing organically grown food, access to pasture, shelter, vaccination and stress free environment to the animals. It is based on some basic standards, certifications and proper record keeping. In recent years, organic products have become a major commodity of export and import between different countries of the world.


According to a recent report by organic giants FiBL and IFOAM-Organic Internationals, 191 countries of the world today are involved in organic activities. In fact, organic farmland now covers an area of more than 76.4 million hectares. This suggests that many farmers in the world are aware about the organic farming and its importance. The global organic food market size was valued at USD 178.4 billion in 2021 and is expected to be worth around USD 497.3 billion by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.06% during the forecast period 2022 to 2030. Likewise, organic livestock products are also becoming a major commodity of global organic food market. It consists of organically produced dairy products, meat, eggs and some other products. Health concerns, environmental and sustainability issues are the main reasons for emergence of the organic farming (Panday, 2012). Organic farming is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agroecosystem ‘health’ including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil’s biological activity.Organic livestock farming relies on organic and biodegradable inputs like organically grown food for animals, good management practices, animal housing and breeding (animals should not be caged, tethered or confined in buildings, clean bedding etc.). Synthetic inputs like chemicals, drugs, antibiotics,and feed additives should be avoided as much as possible in organic livestock farming (Chander et al., 2010). According to IFOAM (2000) the end goal of organic farming is sustainability which includes social, economic, ecological components and social justice and social rights that are integral part of organic farming.In organic livestock farming, animals are reared on loose housing or free range system to limit stocking densities, potentially promoting good foot and hoof health.

Why Organic Livestock farming and Production?

Chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, various drugs and other feed additives may become the part of food chain that may deteriorate the health of the consumers. Therefore, health conscious people are looking for environmentally safe and chemical residue free healthy foods. Organic farming principles also ensure animal welfare as they are based on providing unlimited access to natural conditions to the animals. In simple words it can be said that organic livestock production promotes good health, animal welfare, sustainability and environment friendly practices. Organic livestock production focuses on cultural, biological and mechanical methods to ensure environmentally safe and chemical residue-free foods, along with high animal welfare standards (Codex Alimentarius Commission, 2007). Various comparative studies have shown that incidences of clinical mastitis and ketosis are less on organic farms (Hardeng and Edge, 2001; Valle et al., 2007). Emissions of CO2 and nitrous oxide are lower in organic systems due to the absence of synthetic fertilizer, lower nitrogen application levels and a relatively low use of concentrates. Organic production ensures traceability of the products and organic certification guarantees not only the quality of the product but also the quality of the production process. Excreta and faecal matters of livestock can be used as manure and pesticides, this will reduce the dependence of farmers on chemical fertilizers and other synthetic substances. Organic livestock farming maintains health and welfare of the animals. It also plays a significant role in providing benefits regarding health of the consumers, profit to producers and sustainability of the environment. The organic products fetch a handsome amount of money in international and national market. Organic livestock farming reduces the chances of spreading of disease organisms, dioxins and various other pollutants and synthetic substances in the food chain. Organic foods are poison and chemical residue free as there is no use of synthetic inputs like antibiotics, feed additives, chemical fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and herbicides etc. (Pathak et al., 2002). Organic production does not require expensive inputs. Fodders for the animal are to be grown on farm itself. The organic products have added value as consumers are ready to pay higher prices for organically grown food (Badertscheret al., 1998; Grueff, 1998). Organically reared animals produce less methane due to low stocking densities and more use of roughages. In organic farms most of the activities are performed manually so there are more employment opportunities. Organic livestock production promotes food security as it demands less inputs so it make farmers self-sufficientto produce healthy food.Therefore, all these advantages make organic livestock farming and production a good option.

How to Accomplish Organic Livestock Production?

Organic farming is regulated by some well-defined standards and certifications. It demands high quality standards during the entire production process. The basic standards for organic farming are formulated by IFOAM, having over 700 affiliates in more than 100 countries of the world. In India, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) administers National Programme on Organic Production (NPOP). In organic livestock production at least 80% of the feeds and fodders should be grown organically without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. Instead of antibiotics and chemical drugs, herbal preparations should be used for the treatment of the animals. Animal welfare is a key aspect in the organic livestock production, therefore, animals should be reared in free range system and better management practices and good bedding should be provided to the animals. Livestock must be raised under continuous organic management from the last third of gestation. Fresh air, shelter and stress free conditions should be provided to the animals. Access to the pastures should be provided to the animals. Their manure can be used for the production of crops. Vaccination can be done in the animals. In organic livestock production, the species or breeds which are disease resistant and tolerant to harsh climatic conditions of a particular region should be selected (Chander et al. 2010).Farmers or producers should maintain proper record of all the activities involved in organic production as this is essential for the certification and traceability of the organic livestock products. Animals must obtain a minimum of 30% dry matter intake from grazing pasture during the grazing season. At least 60% of the dry matter in daily rations is to consist of roughage, fresh or dried fodder or silage.Synthetic amino acids, growth promoters and feed additives are not to be used in organic livestock farming. The maximum number of livestock density is limited to two livestock units per hectare.

Organic Livestock Farming in India

After the independence, the first five year plan was agriculture oriented. India was facing scarcity of food grains in the initial decades of post-independence era. There were no enough food grains to feed the growing population. So green revolution was started in 1960s under the guidance of M. S. Swaminathan. It was based on use of High Yielding Variety (HYV) seeds, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and weedicides etc. for crop production. It resulted in surplus production of food grains. India not only became a self-sufficient nation in the production of food grains to feed its growing population but also exported food grains to other countries. But excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides degraded the soil composition, soil fertility and the environment (Guruswamy et al., 2010). These chemicals also became the part of food chain and deteriorated the health of consumers(Sharma et al., 2009). In such conditions, organic farming became popular as it attracted health conscious people and environmentalists. The Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI) was set up in 2002 in Bangalore.

As per the available statistics, India’s rank 6th in terms of world’s organic agricultural land and 1st in terms of total number of producers as per 2021 data (FiBL and IFOAM, 2023). The APEDA, Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Government of India is implementing the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP). The programme involves accreditation of certification bodies, standards for organic production, promotion of organic farming and marketing etc. As on 31st March, 2023 total area under organic certification process (registered under National Programme for Organic Production) is 10.17 million hectares (2022-23). This includes 53,91,792.97 hectares cultivable area and another 47,80,130.56 hectares for wild harvest collection. Among all states Madhya Pradesh has covered largest area under organic certification followed by Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Odisha etc. Uttarakhand is the pioneering state in organic agriculture, since it is the first tate declared as organic because it follows all organic practices although by default (Subrahmanyeswari, 2007). India produced around 2.9 million MT (2022-23) of certified organic products including organic livestock products (APEDA, 2023). The total volume of export during 2022-23 was 3,12,800.51 MT (APEDA, 2023). The organic food export realization was around INR 5,525.18 Crore (708.33 million USD). Organic products are exported to USA, EU, Canada, Britain, Switzerland and Turkey etc.  (APEDA, 2023). India has emerged as the largest producer of milk with 22.76% share in total milk production in the world in 2021. India accounts for about 7.25% of the global egg production in 2021. India has the largest population of milch animals in the world. India’s exports of animal products in 2022-23 was Rs. 32,597.39 Crores/ 4,062.15 million USD (APEDA, 2023). In India there are excellent breeds of livestock that are well suited to changing climatic conditions, resistant to most of diseases and thrive well on crop residues. Apart from livestock food products, non-food livestock products like hides, leather & wool also offer hope for organic livestock production in India (Chander et al., 2010).

Global Scenario of Organic Livestock Production

According to FAO, livestock contributes to nearly 40% of total agricultural output in developed countries and 20% in developing ones, supporting the livelihoods of at least 1.3 billion people worldwide. Thirty four per cent of global food protein supply comes from livestock. Organic livestock farming has a greater demand due to more focus on sustainability. According to FiBL, 3.7 million organic producers were reported in 2021, an increase of 4.9% compared to 2020. India remained the country with the most organic producers (1.6 million). In 2021, 1.6% farmland around the world was organic. In 2021, the organic market reached almost 125 billion euros, an increase of 4 billion euros or approximately 3% (FiBL, 2023). The global organic meat products market will grow from $ 16.67 billion in 2022 to $ 17.99 billion in 2023 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9% (The Business Research Company report, 2023). Organic dairy products make up 22.3% of overall organic farm products in the world. The global organic dairy market size reached US $ 23.9 billion in 2022, it is expected that the market to reach US $ 36.0 billion by 2028, exhibiting a growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5% during 2023-28 (IMARC Group report, 2023). According to FiBL and IFOAM, Australia has most organic agricultural land (35.7 million hectares) in the world in 2021. About 74 countries in the world had fully implemented regulations on organic farming (IFOAM- Organics International, 2023).


In recent years, more focus on food quality, food security, animal welfare, traceability, environment and public health have led to the rapid emergence of organic livestock farming. Tropical countries like India have great opportunity to harness the advantages of this emerging interest of people for organic products. Quality of organic products is based on standards, inspection, certification and accreditation. IFOAM has put some basic standards for the production of organic products. Different countries have their own standards for organic products. The global market of organic products is growing rapidly.