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Alternative practices to pesticide use in the Guadeloupe banana belt: Do biophysical constraints limit agroecological transitions?

  • Tarsiguel, Laura
  • Dorey, Elodie
  • Dorel, Marc
  • Andrieu, Nadine
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2023
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CONTEXT: In the French West Indies, the banana sector has made a transition from systems heavily reliant on synthetic inputs to more agroecological systems. However, despite abundant literature on the performance of these systems, few studies have described the mechanisms involved in this transition at the level of individual farms. OBJECTIVE: This article aims to understand the drivers of diverse individual agroecological transitions on banana farms in Guadeloupe towards alternative practices to the use of pesticides with a specific focus on the role of biophysical constraints at territorial scale. METHOD: The methodological approach was based on three complementary steps to grasp the spatio-temporal determinants of these transitions: (1) a mapping of biophysical constraints on the scale of a territory spanning 2510 ha of farmland, (2) a mapping of the land use changes between 2010 and 2019 at the plot scale over 1680 plots, and (3) an evaluation of the agroecological transition over ten years of 20 farms located in four previously determined constraint zones. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: We show that some farms in the study area face multiple constraints linked to biophysical factors (sigatoka pressure and slope), and that there are links between these various constraints and land use changes (e.g. abandonment, diversification and maintenance of banana production). A more detailed analysis of the farms shows the emergence of five transition types over the last ten years: farms with a weak transition, farms with a weak transition despite having governance over their productive resources, farms with a moderate transition, farms with an organic-based agroecological transitions, and farms with a strong agroecological transition. The biophysical constraints of these farms affected these transitions, however changes in legislation or access to organic certification also supported changes. There is room for progress to intensify the transition of these systems, but this requires specific recommendations for these different types. SIGNIFICANCE: The mixed method used in this study is helpful to diagnose changes in time and space of farms in agroecological transition and assess their real room for maneuver.

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