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Country report - Portugal

by Catarina Crisistomo, Inter-professional Association for Organic Agriculture (INTERBIO)

This article was originally written for the publication "Organic in Europe", published by the IFOAM EU Group in collaboration with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Switzerland, and the Mediterranean Institute for Agronomic Research CIHEAM-IAM, Bari, Italy.  

Key indicators 2011

  • Organic agricultural area: 219,683 hectares
  • Operators:
    • Organic producers: 3,603 (2011)
    • Organic processors: No data
    • Organic importers: No data
    • Organic exporters: No data
  • Retail sales: EUR 20-22 million (2010)

Area and operator data: Ministry of Agriculture; market data: Interbio

History of organic farming

  • 1985: AGROBIO, the first national organic farming organisation, is set up
  • 1993: BIOCOOP, a cooperative of organic consumers is formed in Lisbon
  • 2004: Portugal’s first organic farmers’ market is inaugurated in Lisbon
  • 2005: INTERBIO, the inter-professional organic farming organisation, is established
  • 2011: INTERBIO drafts a proposal for an organic action plan and holds high-level meetings to lobby for a national organic farming strategy

Key sector institutions

Production base: land use and key crops

Of the total area of 219,683 hectares farmed organically (2011)

  • 59.9 % consists of permanent grassland and grazing areas,
  • 12.2 % arable crops and
  • 14.3 % permanent crops.

The key crops from the arable land are

  • green fodder (15,369 hectares),
  • arable crops (cereals, oilseeds and protein crops, etc – 9,377 hectares) and aromatic plants
  • (1,324 hectares).

The key permanent crops are

  • olives (18,345 hectares),
  • fruit (6,471 hectares) and
  • nuts (4,177 hectares).


The Portuguese organic market is at an early stage of its development, and its share of the total food market is still small. It is nevertheless a flourishing sector. Over the last few years, there has been strong demand for organic food, boosting the number of specialised organic shops and organic farmers’ markets, and raising sales of organic products in mainstream supermarkets and health/organic food shops. Even in the current economic situation, the growth of organic retail sales is not showing any signs of slowing down.

  • Exports and imports: Exports play a major role for products such as wine and olive oil. The bulk of the organic processed food products is imported.

Standards, legislation, organic logo

EU legislation on organic farming and other regulations apply.

There is no national logo for organic products.

Policy support

  • National action plans: As yet, there is no national organic action plan.
  • Support under the EU rural development programme: Area payments for organic farming are provided under PRODER. However, the support scheme is closed to new entrants due to budget restrictions since January 2011. Financial support for organic certification was provided until the end of 2010. Other PRODER support measures that until recently benefited the organic sector included the provision ofinformation about, and promotion of quality products, cooperation for innovation, and the provision of specialised training.
  • Other policy support: As part of the community initiative EQUAL, the PROVE project promoted the start of local box schemes organised by groups of small-scale farmers (including organic producers).

Research & advice

Research on organic farming is carried out at some regional agricultural bodies, agricultural higher schools and universities.

Three private companies, AGROBIO and several regional organic farmers associations all provide technical support. On the Island of Madeira, the local government has created a separate department to provide technical advice and support research.

Challenges & outlook

Organic agriculture plays a crucial role in optimising the use of a territory characterised by vast rural areas, poor soils, a harsh climate and a fragile socioeconomic situation. Therefore, more than ever before, there is a strong need for a national integrated development strategy. The main areas of action would be farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing and learning platforms, applied research for organic cropping systems (including agro-forestry and animal husbandry), advanced organic seed production, weed and soil management expertise, valueadded organic food processing industries, the promotion of close consumer-producer links, the collection of market data, and the promotion of greater transparency in a harmonized control system at the EU level.

Further information

For other relevant websites, see the sections on key sector institutions.


Catarina Crisistomo
Interbio – associação interprofissional para a agricultura biológica
Edifício INOVISA,
Tapada da Ajuda,
1349-017 Lisboa,
Tel.: +351 916 57 6365

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