AGRICULTURE. OBJECTIVES. Compare & contrast agri systems in the Caribbean Explain roles of agri in the region Assess the impact of agri on the environment Explain features of sustainable agri Discuss threats to sustainable agri
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OBJECTIVES • Compare & contrast agri systems in the Caribbean • Explain roles of agri in the region • Assess the impact of agri on the environment • Explain features of sustainable agri • Discuss threats to sustainable agri • Evaluate environmentally sustainable alternatives to current agricultural system and practices
Types of Agriculture in Caribbean • Types: • Peasant/Subsistence • Commercial • Subsistence farming, or subsistence agriculture, is a mode of agriculture in which a plot of land produces only enough food to feed the family or small community working it. • SF – the provision of food by farmers only for their own family or the local community without any surplus.
Main priority of subsistence farmers is self-survival which they try to achieve by growing/ rearing a wide range of crops/animals. • These farmers are unable to improve their output is due to: • Lack of capital • Lack of land & technology but not due to effort/ability • Vulnerable to food shortages
Commercial farming - The production of crops for sale, crops intended for widespread distribution to wholesalers or retail outlets (e.g. supermarkets), and any non-food crops such as cotton and tobacco. • Includes livestock production and livestock grazing. Commercial agriculture does not include crops grown for household consumption (e.g backyard garden or from a vegetable garden or a few fruit trees.) • Occurs on a large, profit making scale. These farmers seek to maximize yields per hectare.
PROBLEMS WITH MODERN AGRICULTURE Can you guess? • Environmental degradation • soil erosion, pollution by pesticides, salinization • Social problems • elimination of the family farm; • concentration of land, • resources & production; • growth of agribusiness & its domination over farm production; • change in rural/urban migrations • Excessive use of natural resources
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE • The term sustainable agriculture means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term: • satisfy human food and fiber needs; • enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends; • make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; • sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and • enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.
FEATURES OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE • Ecological soundness: this requires maintenance of the quality of natural resources & enhancing the vitality of the entire agro-system. Soil is managed & the health of the crops, animals & people is maintained through biological processes. Productive capacity & physical environment should be maintained for the benefit of future generations. • Economic viability: risks are minimised, thus, reducing financial inputs & expenditure. Farmers produce enough for income & self-sufficiency. Yields of produce must justify inputs. Agriculture contributes to GDP @ national level.
Adaptable: communities should be capable of adjusting to the constantly changing conditions for farming, changing market demands & population growth & policies through development & use of new & appropriate technologies including social & cultural changes. • Humane: there must be recognition of the fundamental dignity of all human beings, preserving the cultural & spiritual integrity of society & a respect for all forms of life.
Socially just/acceptable: resources should be distributed equitably to meet the basic needs of society. Adequate capital, technical expertise and market opportunities must be available to all. Also farming practices are in harmony w/ cultural values & community needs.
Agricultural practices considered sustainable include: • Reduced/minimum tillage • Crop rotations • Soil & nutrient mgt • Efficient use of water resources • Integrated pest, disease & weed mgt • Slope mgt • Organic farming • Robert Potter. 2004. The Contemporary Caribbean
SUSTAINABLE TRADITIONAL AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES USED IN THE CARIBBEAN • Intercropping & polyculture: symbiotic relations ‘tween plants (shade, rooting systems), plant diversity encourages natural biological control of insect pests, provides year round food supply. • Crop rotation w/ legumes: helps retain soil fertility & year round food supply, (rotations involve red peas, gungo peas, cowpeas, string beans etc)
Spatial organisation of crops in fields: strip cropping, grass barriers, contour planting – all contribute to soil conservation, planting trees to act as wind breaks • Fallowing: helps restore soil fertility if sufficient time elapses, helps maintain vegetative cover to reduce erosion. • Mulching: helps reduce evapotranspiration & soil loss from wind erosion, adds nutrients to soil, minimises the impact of splash erosion.
Ramming, fly penning: integrates crops & livestock into household production, reduces potential erosion by trampling, animal faeces manures the land. • Kitchen gardens & food forests: traditional types of agroforestry. • Silvo-pasture: combining food trees w/ pasture e.g. coconuts & cattle.
AGROFORESTRY • The intentional combination of agriculture & forestry to create integrated & sustainable land use systems. • Includes intentional use of trees & shrubs on the same land as agricultural products or livestock in some form to create more integrated, sustainable, diverse, productive, profitable & healthy land use systems. • Egs. Alley cropping, forest farming, silviculture and windbreaks.
Another definition: It denotes a sustainable land & crop management system that strives to increase yields on a continuing basis, by combining the production of woody forestry crops (incl. fruit & other tree crops) with arable or field crops and/or animals simultaneously or sequentially on the same unit of land, & applying mgt. practices that are compatible w/ the cultural practices of the local pop’n.
Biodiversity increases with each stage in the development of this succession. • Forms of agroforestry: • Amazon – short term improved fallows w/ leguminous shrubs, medicinal, or other products in low-input tropical systems • Intensive cash crop with indigenous fruits & nuts in coffee & cocoa in West Africa • North America – contour strips in high-input maize/soybeans systems that mitigate erosion & run-off
CHARACTERISTICS OF AGROFORESTRY • Four characteristics: • Structure – unlike modern agri. & forestry, it combines trees, crops & animals. • Sustainability – it optimises the beneficial effects of interactions between woody species & crops/animals. • Increased productivity – by enhancing complementary relations among farm components, improved growing conditions & efficient use of natural resources (space, soil, water, light), production is expected to be greater in agroforestry systems than conventional land use systems
Socioeconomic/Cultural Adaptability – although appropriate to a wide range of farm sizes & socioeconomic conditions, its potential had been particularly recognised for small farmers in poor, marginal areas of the tropics & subtropics.
ADVANTAGES ENVIRONMENTAL: • A more efficient use is made of the natural resources: • The various vegetation layers provide for efficient use of solar radiation • Rooting systems at different depths make good use of soil • Short-lived agri. Crops can profit from enriched topsoil due to mineral cycling through treetops. • If animals are included in system then unused 1o production can be used for 2o production & nutrient cycling
ADVANTAGES cont’d • The protective function of trees in relation to soil, hydrology & plant protection can be utilised to decrease the hazards of environmental degradation.
ADVANTAGES cont’d SOCIO-ECONOMIC • The total production per unit of land can be increased. • The various components or products of the systems might be used as inputs for production of others (e.g. wooden implements, green manure) & thus the amount of commercial inputs & investments can be decreased.
Tree products can often be obtained throughout the year providing year round opportunities and regular income. • Various tree products can be obtained in the agricultural off-season (e.g. dry season), when no opportunities for other kinds of plant production are present.
CONSTRAINTS • Agroforestry systems are ecosystem specific & on certain low grade soils the choice of suitable plants might be limiting, although many trees are better adapted to poor soils than annual crops. • The competition between trees & food crops & the priority that must be given to them to meet basic needs may exclude poor farmers, who have little land from tree growing
An economic constraint is that newly established agroforestry systems might need substantial investment costs to get started (e.g. planting material, soil conservation, fertiliser). • Management of livestock can conflict w/ agroforestry esp. in areas where cattle or goat herding is practised. • Tenure rights may be a limiting factor. • Tree tenure where the land on which trees may be planted and protected is not owned by those who planted them.
EXAMPLES OF AGROFORESTRY • Classic eg. Home gardens in the tropics • Mexico: • Huastec Indians manage a number of agricultural & fallow fields, complex home gardens and forest plots totalling about 300 spp. • Small areas around the houses average ~ 80-125 useful plant spp., mostly medicinal • Intensive intercropping with plantation crops such as coconut, cacao, coffee & rubber • In India, crops (black pepper, cacao & pineapple) grown under coconut
AGROFORESTRY MANAGEMENT OPTIONS • ALLEY CROPPING • Appropriate for home gardens & for cultivated arable land Helpful in the following ways: • Provides green manure or mulch for companion crops • Recycles plant nutrients from deeper soil layers • Provides prunings, applied as mulch, & shade during fallow season • Suppresses weeds
Provides favourable conditions for soil macro & microorganisms; when planted along contours of sloping land to provide a barrier for soil erosion control • Provides biologically fixed N to the companion crop • CONTOUR PLANTING Useful for the following conditions: • Poor/easily depleted soils • Sloping (erodible) land as well as non-erodible land • Medium to high pop’n density
To reduce soil & water run-off BENEFITS OF CONTOUR PLANTING To restore/improve soil nutrient & increase organic material content To add wood products for home consumption or sale To spread the risk of crop failure during extremely dry seasons by moderating the effects of excessive moisture evaporation on exposed land
Appropriate farming system to use this system (contour planting) is a permanent crop cultivation, medium to small size farm & medium to high labour input available per unit of land • Fast growing spp. can be established at the start of the growing season which gives them the opportunity to establish while livestock ar kept out of the arable areas. • Altieri, Miguel A. 1995. Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture p. 260
C. Mixed intercropping • Useful in poor/easily depleted soils, on flat to gently sloping land, in areas of medium population density. • Will restore/improve soil nutrients & increase organic materials.
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