Document Type : Original Article


Department of Agricultural Management, College of Agriculture, Mahabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Mahabad, Iran


The present study aimed to explain the barriers of conversion to organic farming in West Azarbaijan Province, Iran. To achieve the goals of the study, data were collected from both certified organic farmers and conventional farmers using a questionnaire and in-depth interviews. The sample population consisted of 400 people out of whom farmers were selected by the cluster sampling method by using Morgan’s table. The research instrument consisted of a researcher-made questionnaire whose validity was confirmed by an expert panel consisting of specialists in agriculture and development and rural development. Cronbach's alpha coefficient was used to measure the reliability of different sections of the questionnaire and its value was determined to be 0.87. The results of factor analysis showed that the barriers of conversion in organic farming can be classified into five main factors; i.e., economic, social, policy support, informational and educational, and natural barriers. They altogether captured 47.8 percent of the variance in barriers.

Graphical Abstract

Barriers of Conversion to Organic Farming in West Azarbaijan Province


  • Economic barriers were determined to be the most barriers for the farmers willingness to produce the organic product.
  • Low price is the most important of economic barriers for converting into organic farming.
  • Lack of trust into marketing and representatives of the organic farming was another important barrier.


Acs, S., Berentsen, P.B.M., & Huirne, R.B.M. (2007). Conversion to organic arable farming in The Netherlands: A dynamic linear programming analysis. Agricultural Systems, 94, 405-415.

Acs, S., Berentsen, P., Huirne, R., & Van Asseldonk, M. (2006). Effect of yield and price risk on conversion from conventional to organic farming. Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 53, 393–411.

Acs, S., Berentsen, P.B.M., DE WOLF, M., & Hurine R.B.M. (2005). Bio-economic modelling of arable farming system, comparison of conventional and organic farming systems in the Netherlands. Business Economics Group, Department of Social Sciences, Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

Alexopoulos, G., Koutsouris, A., & Tzouramani, I. (2010). Factors affecting farmers’decision to convert to organic farming as well as to abandon it, 9th European IFSA Symposium, 4-7 July2010,Vienna(Austria),1083-1093.

Asadoallapour, A., Pirmoradi, A., & Mohammadi, S. (2013). Organic Farming: Status, challenges and barriers- An West Azarbaijan Provinceian Perspective. Journal of Agri-Food and Applied Sciences, 1 (4), 110-118.

Auerbach, R., Rundgren, G., & El-Hagh Sciallabba, N. (2013). Organic Agriculture: African Experiences in Resilience and Sustainability. Rome: FAO.

Aune, J.B. (2012). Conventional, organic and conservation agriculture: production and environmental impact. Agroecology and strategies for climate change. Springer, Netherlands, pp. 149–165.

Bartulović, A., & Kozorg, M. (2014). Taking up organic farming in (pre-) Alpine Slovenia. Contrasting motivations of dairy farmers from less-favoured agricultural areas. Anthropological Notebooks, 20 (3),83–102.

Bennett, M., & Franzel, S. (2013). Can organic and resource-conserving agriculture improve livelihoods? A synthesis. International Journal of Agricaltural Sustainability, 11 (3), 193–215.

Best, H. (2009). Organic farming as a rational choice. Empirical Investigations in Environmental Decision Making, Rationality and Society, 21 (2), 197–224.

Beuchelt, T.D., & Zeller, M. ( 2011). Profits and poverty: Certification's troubled link for Nicaragua's organic and fairtrade coffee producers. Ecological Economics, 70 (7), 1316–1324.

Bonn, M. A., Cronin, J. J., & Cho, M. (2016). Do Environmental sustainable practices of organic wine suppliers affect consumers behavioral intentions? The moderating role of trust. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 57 (1), pp. 21–37.

Connor, D.J. (2013). Organically grown crops do not a cropping system make and nor can organic agriculture nearly feed the world. Field Crops Research. 144, 145–147.

Crowder, D.W., & Reganold, J.P. (2015). Financial competitiveness of organic agriculture on a global scale. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112 (24), 7611–7616.

CukurT. (2015). Conventional dairy farmers converting to organic dairy production in Turkey. Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, 24 (4), 1543-1551.

Daugbjerg, C. R., Tranter, Hattam, C., & Holloway G. (2011). Modelling the impacts of policy on entry into organic farming: Evidence from Danish-UK comparisons, 1989-2007. Land Use Policy, 28,413-422.

Flaten, O., Lien, G., Koisling, M., & LOES A. K. (2010). Norwegian farmers ceasing certified organic production: Characteristics and reasons. Journal of Environmental Management, 91, 2717–2726.

Gardebroek, C. (2006). Comparing risk attitudes of organic and non-organic farmers with a Bayesian random coefficient model. European Review of Agricultural Economics, 33, 485–510.

Giovannucci, D. (2005). Organic agriculture and poverty reduction In Asia: China and India Focus. Rome, IFAD Office of Evaluation. International Fund for Agricultural Development Retrieved from evaluation/ public _html/eksyst/doc/ thematic/organic/asia. pdf.

Hanson, J., Dismukes, R., Chambers, W., Greene C., & Kremen, A. (2004). Risk and risk management in organic agriculture: views of organic farmers. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 19 (4), 218–227.

Hazell, P., Poulton, C., & Wiggins, S., Dorwand, A. (2010). The future of small farms: trajectories and policy priorities. World Development, 38 (10), 1349–1361.

Hiroki, U., & Ashok, M. (2012). Organic farmers or conventional farmers: Where's the money? Ecological Economics, 78, 55-62.

Jouzi, Z., Azadi, H., Taherie, F., Zarafshani, K., Gebrehiwot, K., Van Passel, S., & Lebailly, P. H. (2017). Organic farming and small-scale farmers: Main opportunities and challenges. Ecological Economics, 132 (2017), 144-154.

Kalfle, B. (2011). Factors affecting adoption of organic vegetable farming in Chitwan District, Nepal. World Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 7 (5), 604-606.

Kaufmann, P., Zemeckis, R., Skulskis, V., Kairyte, E., & Stagl, S. (2011). The Diffusion of organic farming in Lithuania. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 35 (5), 522–549.

Kerselaers, E., L., De Cock, Lauwers, L., & Van Huylenbroeck, G. (2007). Modelling farm-level economic potential for conversion to organic farming. Agricultural Systems, 94, 671-682.

Khaledi, M., Wessen, S., Sawer, E., Ferguson, S., & Gray, R. (2010). Factor’s influencing partial and complete adoption of organic farming practices in Saskatchewan, Canada. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue Canadienne D'agroeconomie, 58, 37–56.

Kirchmann, H., Bbergstrom, L., Katterer, T., Andersen, O., & Andersson, R. (2008). Can organic crop production feed the world? Chapter 3; Organic crop production–Ambitions and limitations.Springer Science, 39–72. DOI 101007/978-1-4020-9316-6-3.

Koing, B. (2004). Adoption of sustainable production techniques. Structural and social determinants of the individual decision making process. Acta Horticulturae, 655, 259–267.

Kuminoff, N. V., & Wossink, A. (2010). Why isn't more US Farmland Organic? Journal of Agricultural Economics, 61, 240-258.

Lauwere, C.C., Drost, H., Buch, A.J., Smit, A.B., Balk-Theuws, L.W., Buurma, J.S., & Prins, H. (2004). To change or not to change? Farmers' motives to convert to integrated or organic farming (or not), Acta Horticulture, 655, 235–243.

Leifeld, J. (2012). How sustainable is organic farming? Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 150, 121-122.

MacInnis, B. (2004). Transaction costs and organic marketing: evidence from U.S. organic produce farmers. Selected Paper Prepared for Presentation at the American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, Denver, CO. Aug 1 - 4.

Mackie, K.A., Muller, T., & Kandler, E. (2012). Remediation of copper in vineyards – A mini review. Environmental Pollution, 167, 16–26.

Macrae, R. (2002). A national strategic plan for the canadian organic food and farming sector. Published by the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada B2N 5E3.

Madelrixeux, S., & Alvoiane-Mornas, F. (2013). Withdrawal from organic farming in France. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 33 (3), 457–468.

 Midmore, P., Padel,S., McCalman,H., Lampkin, N. H., Fowler S.,& Isherwood,
J. (2001) Attitude to Organic Production: A survey of producers. Unpublished final report to MAFF, Institute of Rural Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Aberystwyth.

Mzoughi, N. (2011). Farmers adoption of integrated crop protection and organic farming: do moral and social concerns matter? Ecological Economics, 70(8), 1536-1545.

Nieberg, H., & Offermann, F. (2008). Financial success of organic farms in Germany. Cultivating the future based on science. Volume 2: Livestock, socio-economy and cross disciplinary research in organic agriculture. Proceedings of the Second Scientific Conference of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR), held at the 16th IFOAM Organic World Conference in Cooperation with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and the Consorzio ModenaBio
in Modena
, Italy, 18-20 June, 312-315.


Omotayo, O.E., & Chukwuka, K.S., (2009). Soil fertility restoration techniques in Sub-Sahran Africa using organic resources. African Journal Agricultural Research, 4(3), 144-150.

Padel, S. (2001). Conversion to organic farming: A typical example of the diffusion of
an innovation. Sociologia Ruralis, 41 (1), 40-62.

Ponisio, L.C., Mgonigle, L.K., Mace, K.C., Palomino, J., DE Valpine, P., & Kremen, C. (2015). Diversification practices reduce organic to conventional yield gap. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. Biological Sciences, 282 ,1799). 20141396.

Reganold, J.P., & Wachter, J.M. (2016). Organic agriculture in the twenty-first century Nature Plants, 2 (2).1522

Reaves, E and Rosenblum, N (2014) Barriers and Opportunities: The Challenge of Organic Grain Production in the Northeast, Midwest, and Northern Great Plains. Hartland, VT: Sustainable Food Lab. Available at Google Scholar

Sahm, H., Sanders, J., Nieberg, H., Behrens, G., Kuhnert, H., Strohem, R., & Hamm, U. (2013). Reversion from organic to conventional agriculture:.Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 28 (03), 263–275.

Samian, M., Mahdei, K. N., Saadi, H., Ansari, E., Asadi, M., & Mardani, Y. (2012). Educational, social, economical barriers of organic agriculture implementation. International Journal of Agricultural Science, Research and Technology in Extension and Education Systems, 2 (4), 165–170.

Scialabba, N. (2000). Factors influencing organic agriculture policies with a focus on developing countries. Paper presented 29 of August at the IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) Scientific Conference, Basel, Switzerland, 28-31 August 2000 [Google Scholar].

Seufert, V. (2012). Organic agriculture as an opportunity for sustainable agricultural development Retrieved from 2012_13_ seufert.pdf.

Seufert, V., Ramankutty, N., & Foley, J.A. (2012). Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture. Nature, 485 (7397), 229–232.

Sharifi, O., Sadati, S.A., Ghobadi, F.R., Mohamad, Y., & Del, P.T.T. (2010). Barriers to conversion to organic farming: A case study in Babol County in iran. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 5(16), 2260-2267.

Soltani, SH.,  Azadi, H., Mahmoudi, H., & Wiltox, F. (2014). Organic agriculture in West Azarbaijan Province: Farmers' barriers to and factors influencing adoption. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems,  29 (2) , 126-134. DOI:

Vaarsr, M. (2010). Organic farming as a development strategy: who are interested and who are not? Journal of Sustainable Development, 3(1), 38-50.