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Sustainability assessment of ecological intensification practices in coconut production

Geraldo Stachetti Rodrigues, Carlos Roberto Martins and Inácio de Barros

Agricultural Systems, 2018, vol. 165, issue C, 71-84

Abstract: Environmental impact and economic performance assessments are important subjects for the definition of strategies for sustainable management in agriculture. The objective of the present study was to assess such impacts in a set of reference farms dedicated to coconut production, conforming a gradient with respect to the adoption of technologies and ecological intensification practices. Ranging in scale from smaller family farms to larger corporate enterprises, and from coconut monocultures to diversified crops and integrated coconut-livestock systems, the six cases were studied through a multi-attribute utility model comprising 62 indicators related to five sustainability dimensions: (i) Landscape ecology, (ii) Environmental quality, (iii) Sociocultural values, (iv) Economic values and (v) Management and administration. Detailed cash flow analyses permitted a critical view regarding the influence of technology adoption, ecological intensification, and management for sustainability as criteria for economic viability. The results attest to the value of produce diversification as opportunity toward technology integration, which correlated positively with higher sustainability indices in all dimensions. Tradeoff analysis showed a negative correlation between socio-environmental performance indices and profitability, whereas none of the cases studied showed constrained economic viability, indicating that ecological intensification in coconut production can also entail social improvements, by promoting fairer share of revenues and benefits among stakeholders. Recommendations issued to farmers and management teams, related with agronomic factors and practices adopted in production intensification, favor the communication of appropriate mechanisms for technology adoption, translating farm-level sustainability assessments into action for sustainability.

Keywords: Impact assessment; Economic performance; Environmental management; Sustainable agriculture; APOIA-NovoRural (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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