Fewer potatoes, record level for spelt

Agriculture & fishery
Fewer potatoes, record level for spelt

Final agricultural figures 2021

In 2021, there were in Belgium 36,012 agricultural holdings. That is as many as in 2020. 64.5% of the number of holdings can be found in Flanders, while 54% of the total utilised agricultural area is in Wallonia. This is what emerged from the final agricultural results of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office.

The agricultural area in Belgium is 1,368,315 ha. 34.8% of the agricultural area consists of permanent grassland. Cereal crops occupy 22.7% of the agricultural area and fodder crops 21.6%.

The total area of potatoes in Belgium has decreased by 7,418 ha (-7.62%). Fewer potatoes were produced in order to clear the large stocks caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The decrease in percentage was slightly larger in Wallonia than in Flanders (-8.5% and -6.9% respectively) but in terms of area it was the same, namely about -3,700 ha.

Due to the increasing demand for spelt and the good spelt price, the area reached a record level of 18,674 ha (+23%) in 2021.

Other crops

After a sharp decline in 2020, the surface area for winter wheat in Belgium increased again by 6.3% or 11,155 ha, almost reaching the 2019 level in 2021. However, less spring cereals were sown (-5.5% spring wheat and -22.3% spring barley).

As a result of the disappointing yields for flax in 2020, less flax was sown in 2021 (-16% or -2,969 ha).

Belgium's total outdoor vegetable area amounted to 50,208 ha in 2021, due to a slight decrease of 0.6% or 309 ha. The large increase in Flanders (+5.5% or +1,701 ha) was offset by a large decrease in Wallonia (-10.2% or -1,959 ha). In both regions, there was a decrease in peas, French beans and spinach, while onions, leeks, Brussels sprouts and chicory roots increased.

The area under glass and high cover continues to rise and in 2021 reached a total land area of 2,644 ha (+6.9%). Cultivation under glass or high cover refers to all structures made of glass or plastic, soft or hard, heated or not, in which one can stand up.

Cattle, pig and poultry stocks are declining

The cattle population decreased by 25,000 animals (-1.1%). The decrease was more significant in Wallonia than in Flanders (-1.6% and -0.6% respectively). The main decrease was in breeding heifers (-67% of the total decrease or -16,811 animals), followed by suckler cows (-16%) and male bovine animals (-8%). The pig population decreased by 2.8% in 2021 compared to 2020. The decrease occurred in all categories except for the 20-50 kg pigs, which register an increase of 11.8%. The number of covered sows decreased by 3.4%, while the number of non-covered sows increased by 3.1%, indicating that the pig population will decrease further.

Poultry decreased by 0.42% compared to 2020. 83.7% of the poultry population is located in Flanders. However, poultry in Wallonia is increasing every year; by 82% in ten years.