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Country report - Spain

by Victor Gonzalvez, SEAE, Spanish Society of Organic Agriculture (Sociedad Espanola de Agricultura Ecologica)

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 2012

  • Organic agricultural area: 1,593,197 hectares. If the wild collection areas are included total land under organic certification is 1,845,039 hectares.
  • Operators:
    • Organic producers: 30,402
    • Organic processors: 2,790
    • Organic importers: 111
    • Organic exporters: 127
  • Retail sales: EUR 965 million

Data key indicators: Ministry of Agriculture (MAGRAMA)

History of organic farming

  • 1984: The first Biocultura Organic Fair takes place in Madrid, organised by the sector organisation Vida Sana
  • 1989: The first national organic farming legislation is passed
  • 1992: The Spanish Society for Organic Farming (SEAE), a non-profit organisation, is founded
  • 1998: The CAAE is founded in Andalucia as a regional public certification body. Today this has evolved into a private certification body and non-profit association (Asociacion Valor Ecologico), working for the development of organic farming. It also set up the Nunez de Prado Organic Farming Research and Defence Awards
  • 2002: First international conference is held on organic olive & olive oil production
  • 2007: The National Organic Action Plan is launched
  • 2012: The Spanish Society for Organic Farming (SEAE) creates the Ecoelabora award for knowledge generation & dissemination in agroecology and organic farming

Key sector institutions

  • Association Valor Ecologico, providing promotion and training activities: www.ecovalia.org
  • Association Vida Sana promotes organic consumption and organises awareness events for the general public (Biocultura Fairs in different cities in Spain): www.vidasana.org
  • FEPECO, a Spanish federation of companies that produce, process and market organic products: www.fepeco.es
  • Intereco, Association of public organic control bodies: www.interecoweb.com
  • SEAE, Spanish Society for Organic Farming: www.agroecologia.net

Production base: land use and key crops

Of the total area of 1,593,197 hectares

  • 53.2 % consists of permanent grassland and grazing areas,
  • 22.7 % is permanent crops, and
  • 17.5 % is arable land.

The key arable crops are

  • cereals (174,005 hectares),
  • protein crops (45,195 hectares),
  • green fodder from arable land (34,976 hectares), and
  • vegetables (10,245 hectares).

The key permanent crops are

  • olives (168,039 hectares),
  • nuts (98,272 hectares),
  • grapes (81,262 hectares), and
  • citrus fruits (6,275 hectares).


The Spanish organic market is smaller than average for the European Union, but it has grown steadily in the last five years. This emerging organic market has a per capita consumption for organic products of EUR 20 (2011), and a market share of around 1 %.

  • Exports and imports: A large proportion of the organic production – mainly fruits, vegetables, wine and oil – is sold in other EU countries. A significant volume of processed organic products is also imported (over EUR 200 million).

Standards, legislation, organic logo

EU legislation on organic farming and other regulations apply. In some regions (Aragon, Andalucia, Castilla-La Mancha), private control bodies are authorised to control organic producers and processors. In the other regions, semi-public (sector representatives and administrations) or public administrations are responsible for the implementation of EU legislation. Imports and exports are registered by the central authorities.

There is no national logo for organic products, but in all the regions with semi-public or public control bodies, a common logo is used (with the name of the region). In regions without public control bodies, the logos of the private control bodies are used.

Policy support

  • National action plans: Several organic action plans are being implemented in different regions (Canary Islands, Catalonia, Basque country, etc.), and in other regions, new action plans are currently being formulated (Andalucia, Valencia). However, most of these plans do not have specific targets.
  • Support under the EU rural development programme: In most of the regions, rural development measures have been supported since 1998. There are sometimes considerable differences between the regions. Each region must decide for itself which crops are to be supported.
  • Other policy support: Other areas of support include activities to promote organic farming organisations (SEAE, FEPECO, INTERECO, CAAE), support for organic farming research at some state research stations, for the organic advisory service in Andalucia, and for the participation of the most relevant companies at organic trade fairs.

Research & advice

The main institutions that conduct research for organic agriculture are listed on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, www.magrama.es.

Advice is provided by the Andalusian advisory services and by the Spanish Society of Ecological Agriculture, which provides general and specialised advice to farmers, as well as training courses and technical information for practitioners.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, high-level agro-ecology education courses have been developed at the University of Cordoba (UCO, www.uco.es) with the participation of many teachers and students from Latin America. This task is now being taken over by the International University of Andalucia (UNIA, www.unia.es) and the Pablo Olavide University of Seville (UPO, www.upo.es).

Challenges & outlook

Challenges include the need to change domestic consumption habits regarding organic food, as well as the necessity for a national register of organic inputs. It is also important that an agro-ecological concept for organic production be developed.

Further information

Organic Eprints for Spain: www.orgprints.org/view/projects/es.html
Ministry of Agriculture, organic farming pages: www.magrama.gob.es/es/alimentacion/temas/la-agricultura-ecologica
Catalonian Regional Department of Agriculture, organic farming pages: www.gencat.cat/daam/ecoes
Andalusian Regional Department of Agriculture, organic farming pages: http://www.juntadeandalucia.es/agriculturaypesca/portal/areas-tematicas/produccion-ecologica/index.html

For other relevant websites, see the sections on key institutions and research & advice.


Victor Gonzalvez
Sociedad Española de Agricultura Ecológica (SEAE)
Camí del Port, S/N. Edificio ECA
Patio Interior 1º – (Apartado 397)
46470 Catarroja
Tel.: +349 6126 7200
Cell: +346 0029 2143
Fax: +349 6126 7122

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