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Sustainability of bean production systems on steep lands in Costa Rica

Sustainability of bean production systems on steep lands in Costa Rica

Agricultural systems0(4): 391-410

Responding to changes in rural-urban linkages and government policies, bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) production systems in Costa Rica are undergoing transitions. Impacts of changes in bean production systems on environmental and economic sustainability, were analysed at the field, farm and policy levels. A combination of interviews, agronomic surveys, on farm experiments, and secondary information was used. Changes in agronomic and economic conditions over time were assessed by conducting agronomic surveys and experiments on farms representing a range of land-use intensities. Trade-offs between productivity and stability were quantified using Modified Stability Analysis. The adoption of land and agrochemical-intensive methods by resource-poor farmers cultivating steep lands resulted in decreased environmental and economic sustainability. Farmers with adequate resources were able to maintain economic viability by transferring land out of beans and into other commodities, particularly cattle. However, this shift in resource use decreased social equity by decreasing farm labour opportunities for smallholders and landless farmers and diminishing land available for tenants. These studies indicate that the impact of technology introduction on farming system sustainability can be assessed effectively by conducting integrated socioeconomic and agronomic analyses across farms representing various land-use practices and intensities.

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Accession: 002973540

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DOI: 10.1016/0308-521x(94)00069-4

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