The amount of land used for organic farming in the UK has almost doubled in the last year to 458,600 hectares, while the number of licensed organic farms has risen to almost 4000, according to a report by the Soil Association.

Sales of organic food and drink rose by 15% to around £920m (US$1.437bn) in the year ending April 2002, while almost 80% of households bought at least one organic item during the 12-month period.

UK sales of organic food are now the second highest in Europe after Germany.

The report also shows, however, that 70% of organic food is purchased by only 8% of households.

In its report, the Soil Association, which is the main certifier of organic produce in the UK, calls for greater cooperation between farmers, wholesalers and supermarkets, and for more money to be made available for organic farming in Scotland and Wales.

The UK is currently not producing enough organic cereals, fruit or beef, all of which have to be imported, while too much organic milk and lamb is being produced, reported BBC Online.

This week’s feature of the week looks at a reported slowdown in the growth of the UK organics sector. members can read it here.

To find out about the benefits of full membership of, please click here.