Valuing Agroforestry Systems: Methods and Applications


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The advantages of affiliation with an associative organization are improved product commercialization, more available technical attendance, lower cost acquisition of inputs and equipment, and better access to credit and social assistance health, education, and welfare. Analysis of the agroforestry systems under study was conducted as follows. A general characterization of the area of study was made using available secondary data from public institutions IBGE, Foundation of Economy and Statistics of Rio Grande do Sul FEE , EMATER, others and the materials and resources of institutions directly linked with the producers under study associations, cooperatives, companies, or public powers ;.

The construction of a graph of the values of the indicators used to measure the quali-quantitative aspects of each agroforestry system. Each graph is composed of ten sustainability indicators Box and illustration 1 , the value of each being the harmonic average of its descriptors values. Higher indicator values indicate higher sustainability values Illustration 1 , and the harmonic average of the standardized registrations of all indicators will be the SI value.

The classification of the units of production into groups by agroforestry system practiced and by institutional arrangement, for later comparative analysis. A comparative analysis beginning with the indexes and sustainability patterns presented by the production units to determine if the sustainability patterns verified are related to institutional arrangement and to better understand the influences of technology and productive practices.

Each of the indicators chosen for this analysis can be linked with one of four aspects of sustainability, as shown in Illustration 2 :. Table 1 shows the indicators values for each of the studied agroforestry systems. The averages in boldface are maximum indicator values and the underlined values are the minimum indicator values. It is noted that, while the minimum values of each indicator are relatively well distributed among the studied systems, the highest values are concentrated in three systems.

Agroforestry Practices - Forest Farming

These systems also have the higher Sustainability Indexes. Although the SI values for each system show little differentiation, the sustainability patterns are shown to be extremely differentiated. Each of the studied systems presents strength in different aspects of sustainability as defined by this study.

Valuing Agroforestry Systems: Methods and Applications

In general, while a high value for the harmonic average of the indicators of sustainability, expressed as the Sustainability Index SI , is a sign of more likely system sustainability, it is also assumed that the more balanced the values of the different indicators, the more sustainable the system. The indicator values imply that the system is sustained more by its technician-productive and economic aspects while its organizational and environmental aspects weak.


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This agroforestry system has the most critical [lowest] sustainability index among the studied systems. As it is observed in the graph to the side, the indicators that stand out positively are 1 handling of the production system , 3 productivity of the work , 4 economic resilience and 6 liquid income while the ones that indicate poor performance are 2 productivity of the earth , 7 quality of the soil and 10 community and institutional participation.

This system has highest Sustainability Index and presents the best general performance among the studied agroforestry systems. It has five of the ten highest indicator values and none of the lowest values Table 1 and Illustration 4. Also presenting high values are indicators 1 handling of the production system , 8 impacts on other systems and 9 taking decisions in the property. Its weakest points are found in indicators 1 handling of the production system , 5 relationships with the markets , 7 quality of the soil , and 10 community and institutional participation.

We can see that the system possesses a certain balance with a slight tilt toward the indicators in the technician-productive-economic hemisphere; though, there are some contradictions. Indicators 2 productivity of the earth , 7 quality of the soil , and 10 community and institutional participation stood out positively in this system. Indicators 4 economic resilience , 5 relationships with the markets and 6 liquid income can be considered weak. The system shows slight weakness in its economic aspect but it still has second highest sustainability index among the studied systems.

The strong points of this agroforestry system are found in indicators 2 productivity of the earth , 5 relationships with the markets , 7 quality of the soil. Its weakness is shown in indicators 6 liquid income , 8 impacts on other systems and 9 taking decisions in the property. Its strong and weak points were well distributed among four sustainability aspects, making it the most well balanced of all the studied systems.

Indicators 4 economic resilience , 7 quality of the soil , 8 impacts in other systems and 9 taking decisions in the property present the most significant larger indicator values in this system. These indicators are relatively high and balanced. Table 2 shows the indicators values for each of the studied institutional arrangements. The maximum values of each indicator are in boldface and the minimum values of each indicator are underlined.

It is observed that the highest indicator values are relatively well distributed by institutional arrangement. The Integrated arrangement has the highest concentration of the lowest indicator values and, for this reason, has the lowest SI value of all institutional arrangements. However, this arrangement presents the highest registration for indicator 9 taking decisions in the property.

The Individual arrangement is extremely unbalanced: it registers the highest values for four indicators, all in the technician-economic hemisphere; and the lowest values for four other indicators, three of which in the environmental quadrant. The Associative arrangement presents four of the maximum indicator registrations, distributed in three of the four considered aspects. It also has the lowest value for indicator 6 liquid income. This arrangement has the highest SI value of the three studied arrangements. This arrangement has lowest SI value of all those studied: 4.

The lowest indicator performances of this arrangement are in the technician-productive and environmental quadrants. The general weakness in the sustainability of this arrangement is made clear by its graphic representation Illustration 9. Indicators 5 relationships with the markets , 8 impacts on other systems , 9 taking decisions in the property and 10 community and institutional participation are its most critical and weakest points. Two indicators in this quadrant, 2 productivity of the earth and 3 productivity of the work , register the highest values for these indicators among the studied arrangements.

The combination of high and low indicator values in this arrangement create a Sustainability Index of intermediate value 4. Indicator 6 liquid income can be considered the most critically damaging to the sustainability of this arrangement. This arrangement contains the largest number 5 of maximum indicator registrations; and they are well distributed, appearing in three of the four considered aspects of sustainability. Due to this convergence of admirable factors, the associative arrangement presents the highest Sustainability Index of all studied arrangements.

In this arrangement, only indicator 6 liquid income presents weaknesses, as its value is the lowest for this indicator in the institutional arrangement segment of our study. Indicator 9 taking decisions in the property presents a medium value. This was surprising, as we had expected that this arrangement would show the best performance in this indicator due to its well expressed organization characteristics, confirmed by the good performance registered by indicator 10 community and institutional participation.

Considerations on the methodology and the indicators. To facilitate comparisons among systems, the methodology we use generates a numeric index as a function of the chosen indicators and local factors. However, if other indicators were chosen, the results may have been significantly different, even to the extent of complete reversal.

A system that appears sustainable if examined using one combination of indicators, need not using another combination. To obtain an index that is a close reflection of reality and to give a more complete evaluation of sustainability, it is appropriate to use an index of indicators that are generated by composed related variables since a larger number of variables can be introduced. It is also noted that the tendency to affirm that one production system is better than another based only on the value of any quantitative sustainability index may be a mistake.

Local economic, environmental, and organizational factors influence the formation of sustainability patterns. These local factors, their conditions, and their combinations are site specific. What may be sustainable in one locale may not be in another. A system with low sustainability index values that is adapted to specific local and regional conditions may generate a more harmonic, balanced sustainability pattern that perhaps more closely approaches the global conception of sustainability than a system that shows high index values obtained using artifice to transform qualitative attributes into quantities 3.


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  6. About the agroforestry systems and the institutional arrangements. Each agroforestry system had its own strengths, weaknesses, and pattern of sustainability. These systems not only present higher Sustainability Indexes but also show more balanced patterns than the other studied systems. The acacia systems noted in the paragraph above have been in practice for almost a century. Under the specific local conditions, the three traditional agroforestry systems show the largest number of favorable conditions for long term maintenance of all studied systems: they have been adapted to best succeed in their environment and show the highest Sustainability Indexes.

    This system is adapted to the socio-cultural environment in which it was developed and is productively efficient, economically viable, and environmentally suited. The most important objective of subsistence agriculture is family reproduction, pure and simple, with a secondary search for some surplus to exchange for manufactured products and, as much as possible, capitalization. As this system uses few inputs and needs little cultural intervention, it would be expected that it would present environmental performance much better than it actually did third best in the study group and higher general performance.

    Many believe that this system should have a high environmental rating as it its products are native perennials. Native plants are in balance with the ecosystem and suffer from few diseases and infestations that call for the intense use of herbicides and pesticides. Is this product missing categories? Add more categories.

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    Review This Product. Welcome to Loot. Checkout Your Cart Price. Description Details Customer Reviews There is a growing interest and need for enhancing economic and policy research in agroforestry. So far, no single reference book provides adequate coverage of applied economic and policy analysis methodologies for agroforestry professionals. This book, written by the leading experts in economics and agroforestry, addresses this need with 14 case studies covering all the continents of the world that describe and demonstrate the application of a wide range of cutting edge economic analysis techniques to agroforestry system, policies and projects.

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    APANews - The Asia-Pacific Agroforestry Newsletter, No. 25, December

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