In many ways, they are thus closer to organic farming systems, though largely by default. However, a lack of appropriate agroecological knowledge means that they fail to gain most of the environmental, social and economic benefits of organic management, which translate into ecological intensification (i.e. sustainable farming). Nevertheless, developing countries are becoming important suppliers of organic foods, since organic practices tend to suit the conditions under which their producers farm, especially in the case of smallholders living in rain-fed areas. The fact that most organic markets and consumers are in developed countries and are prepared to pay a premium for organic products makes organic farming a niche area with excellent prospects for exports. Organic farming is practised in 160 countries and 37.2 million hectares of agricultural land are managed organically.

Under organic livestock production systems, consumers expect organic milk, meat, poultry, eggs, leather products, etc. to come from farms that have been inspected to verify that they meet rigorous standards, which mandate the use of organic feed, prohibit the use of prophylactic antibiotics (though in fact all antibiotics are discouraged except in medical emergencies) and give animals access to the outdoors, fresh air and sunlight.

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