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Weed control practices on Costa Rican coffee farms: is herbicide use necessary for small-scale producers?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 28, no 2, 167-177 p.
Keyword [en]
Coffee, Costa Rica, Extension services, Herbicides, Organic, Small-scale farmers, Weed management
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-61857DOI: 10.1007/s10460-010-9261-2ISI: 000290667800002OAI: diva2:438185
Available from: 2011-09-01 Created: 2011-09-01 Last updated: 2012-01-17Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Costa Rican coffee and bananas: A social-ecological study of management practices and their effects on the environment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Costa Rican coffee and bananas: A social-ecological study of management practices and their effects on the environment
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.
Costa Rica, coffee, banana, production system, pesticides, organic, conventional, Rainforest Alliance certification
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecotoxicology
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-61221 (URN)978-91-7447-349-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-10-10, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
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

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