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Abstract

For the past fifteen years the notion of sustainable farming has become a constant reference in defining rural development policies. For many years, this concept was assimilated to that of the reproducibility of eco-systems and social and economic factors were not taken into consideration. Yet, in Martinique, as in many other insular states in the Caribbean, control over the way farmland is managed is a prerequisite in defining any so-called sustainable farming policy. The analysis of changes in the use of farmland shows that the intergenerational transfer of land is not ensured: the usable agricultural area has decreased by 38% in less than thirty years, with nevertheless substantial spatial variations. In the same way, it seems that more than 50%) of farms are not economically viable because of their size. In addition, different studies on farming practises show that the land tenure structures of the farms may constitute an obstacle to the application of environmentally friendly practises. To address this problem, many regulations, tools and operators have been implemented in recent decades and at different territorial levels. In spite of everything, because of insufficient political will due to the paradoxical position of farmers and of their representatives (who speak out "in the name of the farming profession" for the preservation of farmland, but whose interests at the individual level are that their land should be declassified as building land), most of these measures have not had the desired effects. For 3 or 4 years, new initiatives have seen the light of day (implementation of the control of land tenure structures and definition of local sustainable development plans). The future of agriculture in Martinique - and therefore its sustainability - will probably depend on the rigour with which these measures are applied.

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