Agriculture still plays an important socio-economic and ecological role in Belgium

03 - 09 - 2014

The Key figures for agriculture 2014 issued by the Federal Public Service for Agriculture show that the number of farms and horticultural businesses is falling in Belgium. The combined total area of farmland is decreasing less quickly, however. In other words, the average farm or market gardening business is growing larger.

Potatoes have gained ground

In terms of crops, in recent years we saw a strong growth in cereals until 2008, and then a downward trend. As a result of the sharp fall in sugar beet cultivation, potatoes in particular gained ground spectacularly between 2008 and 2011, although they have fallen back a little recently. We have also seen a decrease in the area of fallow land.

Organic farming

Organic farming in Belgium is gradually gaining in importance, but the figures for the number of farms and the area under cultivation show that this is mainly happening in Wallonia.

The breakdown per farm type shows that in Wallonia it is cattle farmers that have gone organic, whereas in Flanders the main growth in organic output is in horticulture. This is mainly due to the different specialisations of the two regions.

Conclusion

Farming still plays an important socio-economic and ecological role in Belgium. Agriculture in the strict sense accounts for a share of the country’s exports which is over six times more than its share in GDP; if the food industry is also included, that becomes twelve times more. With regard to environmental and energy issues, the role of agriculture is becoming increasingly important.

Source: FPS