Environmental Damages Versus Economic Performance, Sustainability of Guadeloupean Banana Cropping Systems in Question: an Emergetic Approach

Banana is an important agricultural commodity in Guadeloupe (French West Indies) and, to increase their competitivity in the international market, banana growers have intensified their production systems during the last fifteen years by increasing the use of man-made technological inputs. Such intensification strategies, that require investment increases, are economically and environmentally risky. In order to assess the environmental performance of banana production in Guadeloupe, emergy synthesis methods were applied to six different types of banana cropping systems previously identified in the island. Additionally, aiming at improving farmers decision making, environmental performance results were compared with economic analysis for each cropping system. These analyses showed that the better the environmental benefit of any cropping system, the worse its economic performance. This main result was corroborated by an increased contrast among cropping systems as related to their dependence on purchased inputs, although all of them are based on the same intensive and arguably wasteful agricultural model. Therefore, the analysis point out that sustainable banana production in Guadeloupe depends on a shift from the high fossil imported input model to a local renewable resources intensive one. In this sense, emergy flow analysis shows that innovation towards environmentally sound practices that would enhance nutrient cycling; integrate weeds, pests and diseases control; and improve the banana packing process might result most positive impacts on overall sustainability. Economic analysis showed that the high labour costs contribute largely to the dependency of banana production on public subsidies. Nevertheless, reorienting the current European agricultural income policy to an environmental performance-based subvention might represent an opportunity to achieve the present social goals while promoting sustainability in banana production.

Issue Date:
Jul 13 2008
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
Record Identifier:
Total Pages:

 Record created 2017-04-26, last modified 2018-01-23

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