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Costa Rican coffee and bananas: A social-ecological study of management practices and their effects on the environment
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marine Ecotoxicology)
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates the variability in management practices on coffee and banana farms in an attempt to identify practices that reduce the environmental impact of export crop production. Different banana production systems are studied to determine their level of environmental impact. Insect sampling and bird surveys are used to assess the level of ecological quality on banana farms and their surrounding environments. The first two studies are based on interview methods and focus more on the social aspects of the production system. Paper I identifies how farmers utilize labor and herbicides in weed control practices, and found that small-scale coffee farmers overuse herbicides when their relative use of herbicides to labor to control weed densities is compared to their large-scale counterparts and small-scale organic producers. Paper II attempts to identify variability in management practices for the production of export bananas, but instead finds that there is only one type of export banana production system. However, there are lessons to be learned from organic and banana-coffee intercropping systems of production.

Papers III-V use the information gathered in the interview studies of Paper II to give context to the results from analysis of ecological indicators collected from banana farms. Paper III is a comparison of insect community composition on high-input, low-input and organic banana farms. Paper IV is an analysis of aquatic macroinvertebrate in surface water sites upstream and downstream of banana farm canal entry points. Finally, Paper V is a comparison of ecological effects of management practices between Rainforest Alliance certified farms and non-RainforestAlliancecertified farms. Results showed that low-input banana production is not as good as organic production with regards to ecological impact, but it can still make a difference when compared to high-input banana production. Rainforest Alliance certified farms, however, are not low-input systems and the changes that they make in production practices are not enough to influence the quality of the ecological system. These results are encouraging for low-input production systems, but show that standards for Rainforest Alliance certification need to be tougher in order to make an impact on ecological indicators.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University , 2011. , 46 p.
Keyword [en]
Costa Rica, coffee, banana, production system, pesticides, organic, conventional, Rainforest Alliance certification
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-61221ISBN: 978-91-7447-349-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-61221DiVA: diva2:436072
Public defence
2011-10-10, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Submitted. Paper 4: Submitted. Paper 5: Manuscript.Available from: 2011-09-19 Created: 2011-08-22 Last updated: 2011-09-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Weed control practices on Costa Rican coffee farms: is herbicide use necessary for small-scale producers?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Weed control practices on Costa Rican coffee farms: is herbicide use necessary for small-scale producers?
2011 (English)In: Agriculture and Human Values, ISSN 0889-048X, E-ISSN 1572-8366, Vol. 28, no 2, 167-177 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper presents research conducted duringtwo coffee farming seasons in Costa Rica. The studyexamined coffee farmers’ weed management practices andis presented in the form of a case study of small-scalefarmers’ use of labor and herbicides in weed managementpractices. Over 200 structured interviews were conductedwith coffee farmers concerning their use of hired labor andfamily labor, weed management activities, support services,and expectations about the future of their coffeeproduction. ANOVA and regression analyses describe therelationships between farm size, labor, and herbicide use,and three farm types (i.e., conventional, semi-conventional,and organic). Based on findings regarding the amount oflabor used to manually control weeds on different types offarms (large farms, small conventional, semi-conventional,and organic farms) I am able to challenge small conventionalfarmers’ perceived need for herbicide use. Semistructuredinterviews of coffee farmers and extensionworkers further revealed a dominant role played by agrochemicalcompanies in assisting farmers with productionproblems, and documented a high transaction cost forinformation provided from elsewhere. Chemical companieshire extension workers to visit farmers at their farms, freeof charge, to offer recommendations on how to treat differentpest problems, while government and cooperativeextension agents charge for the service. There is a need toincrease the amount of resources available to the NationalCoffee Institute to fund one-on-one farmer support servicesin order to balance the influence of agro-chemical companyrepresentatives and allow farmers to make better decisionsregarding weed management.

Keyword
Coffee, Costa Rica, Extension services, Herbicides, Organic, Small-scale farmers, Weed management
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-61857 (URN)10.1007/s10460-010-9261-2 (DOI)000290667800002 ()
Available from: 2011-09-01 Created: 2011-09-01 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
2. Export Banana production systems in Costa Rica: identification of alternative systems for more sustainable production
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Export Banana production systems in Costa Rica: identification of alternative systems for more sustainable production
(English)In: Ambio, ISSN 0044-7447, E-ISSN 1654-7209Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Green revolution technologies transformed agricultural production. Large-scale, monocropped systems dependent on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides have become the norm for export crop production. This production system, while increasing yields, has deleterious impacts on human health and the environment. This research investigates the level of variation in production practices for export banana production inCosta Rica, in order to identify pioneering producers, who have managed to transform production practices to reduce agrochemical use. Thirty-nine banana producers were interviewed. Correspondence analysis showed that there is not structured variation in export banana producers’ practices, but two other banana production systems identified produce bananas for processing and for the national market: an organic production system and a coffee-banana intercropped system. Although they target different markets, systems level research may reveal ways that these practices can be scaled up to achieve a productive and profitable system producing high-quality export bananas with fewer or no pesticides.

Keyword
Costa Rica, banana, production systems, conventional, organic
National Category
Agricultural Science
Research subject
Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-61845 (URN)
Available from: 2011-09-01 Created: 2011-09-01 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
3. Insect diversity on high-input, low-input and organic banana farms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Insect diversity on high-input, low-input and organic banana farms
Show others...
(English)In: Agricultural and Forest Entomology, ISSN 1461-9555, E-ISSN 1461-9563Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

High intensity of pesticide use in banana production is problematic not only for human health and the surrounding environment, but can threaten the provision of ecosystem services on which farm productivity depends. This research investigates the effects of varying pesticide-use intensities on on-farm insect diversity, using three different types of farm management systems: high pesticide input conventional system, reduced pesticide input conventional system and organic system. Insect sampling was done using pitfall and yellow bowl traps, left for a 24-hour period at 2 locations inside the banana farm, at the edge of the farm, and in adjacent forest. Species were classified to family level and then morphospecies. Insect species community composition and diversity were compared using multivariate statistics with ordination analysis and Monte Carlo permutation testing, and revealed that each of the management systems were significantly different from each other for both trap types. Insect diversity decreased as production management increased its pesticide use. Reduced insect diversity resulted in fewer functional groups and fewer insect families assuming different functions essential to ecosystem health. Organic farms had similar species composition on the farm compared to adjacent forest sites, whereas species composition increasingly differed between farm and forest sites as pesticide-use intensity increased. We conclude that while organic production has minimal impact on insect biodiversity, even small reductions in pesticide-use intensity can have a significantly positive impact on on-farm insect biodiversity and functional roles supported.

Keyword
banana production, management practices, Costa Rica, insect diversity
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-61848 (URN)
Available from: 2011-09-01 Created: 2011-09-01 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
4. Assessing the ecological impact of banana farms on water quality using aquatic macroinvertebrate community composition
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Assessing the ecological impact of banana farms on water quality using aquatic macroinvertebrate community composition
Show others...
(English)In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

In Costa Rica considerable effort goes to conservation and protection of biodiversity while at the same time agricultural pesticide use is among the highest in the world. Several protected areas, some being wetlands or marine reserves, are situated downstream agricultural areas where large-scale banana farms constitute a major land use, with an average of 57 pesticide applications per year. The banana industry is increasingly aware of the need to reduce their negative environmental impact, but few ecological field studies have been made to evaluate the efficiency of proposed mitigation strategies. This study evaluated if benthic macroinvertebrate community structure is sensitive enough to detect environmental impact of banana farming, and thereby usable to measure improvements in pesticide management practices. Aquatic invertebrate samples were collected at 13 sites between March and April 2007, using kick-net sampling. Samples were taken both up- and downstream banana farms in fast flowing streams, with mostly cobbles for substrate in runs and riffles. The changes in community composition were measured at the family level using ordination methods. Additionally, the Biological Monitoring Working Party (BMWP) score system was applied along with a number of community composition descriptors. In total, 2890 specimens were collected, belonging to 14 orders and 49 families or taxa. The results support the hypothesis that surface waters immediately up- and downstream large-scale banana farms have different macroinvertebrate community compositions, with fewer sensitive taxa according to the BMWP-score values at the downstream sites. Rapid assessment using macroinvertebrate community composition thus appears to be a possible means to detect negative impact from chemical-intense agriculture. As the method is moderately time-consuming, low-cost and highly ecologically relevant it could become a useful complement to chemical analysis of pesticide residues in environmental risk assessment.

Keyword
Costa Rica, banana production, aquatic benthic macro invertebrate, water quality
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-61850 (URN)
Available from: 2011-09-01 Created: 2011-09-01 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
5. What’s in a label? Rainforest-Alliance certified banana production versus non-certified conventional banana production:  
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What’s in a label? Rainforest-Alliance certified banana production versus non-certified conventional banana production:  
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Export banana production in Central and South America, Costa Rica included, is a very pesticide intensive crop, receiving a lot of negative publicity with regards human exposure to pesticides and environmental degradation. In the 1990s, the Rainforest Alliance (RA) certification scheme was established to certify banana producing farms that met a number of social, occupation health and environmental standards set by RA together with their certifying body, the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). The RA seal is meant to convey that bananas were produced using the Best management practices that, among other things, ensures a lower impact on the environment. This study is one of the first, independent scientific studies of the environmental impact of some of the principals set by RA and SAN. The study focuses on insect and bird diversity as an indicator of ecosystem health, and uses yellow bowl traps, pitfall traps and bird survey with audio recording point counts. Five RA certified farms, six non-RA certified farms, and five organic certified farms were sampled; five replicates of each type of insect trap were taken from inside, 30m inside, the edge and adjacent forest areas and 2 replicates were taken of audio bird recordings at inside, edge and forest sites. The data was analyzed with RDA multivariate analyses andMonte carlopermutation tests. The results showed that RA certified farms had less insect diversity when compared to non-RA certified farms and that both farm types had less insect diversity than organic farms, and that there was little difference between RA and non-RA certified farms with regards bird community composition. This study only addressed a few of the principles set forth in the certification standards and that further research needs to be done to investigate the effects of changes made as the result of other principles included in the SAN standards.

Keyword
banana production, Rainforest Alliance certification, management practices, Costa Rica, insect diversity
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-61856 (URN)
Available from: 2011-09-01 Created: 2011-09-01 Last updated: 2011-09-01Bibliographically approved

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