EPL Prediction Competition 2018-2019 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Going green in Guadeloupe

FRANCE: Yellow is the new green in the French Caribbean archipelago of Guadeloupe. Bananas are the island group’s top agricultural export, and there is growing awareness that farming practices need to change as yields drop and damage from pesticide use rises.

environmenthealthagriculturepollutioneconomics
By AFP

Saturday 26 May 2018, 04:15PM


A worker puts etiquettes on bananas in the Changy-Dambas Banana procession plant in Capesterre Belle-Eau, in the French overseas region of Guadeloupe. Photo: Helene Valenzuela / AFP

A worker puts etiquettes on bananas in the Changy-Dambas Banana procession plant in Capesterre Belle-Eau, in the French overseas region of Guadeloupe. Photo: Helene Valenzuela / AFP

Mindful of the biodiversity in his banana grove at Capesterre-Belle-Eau on the island of Basse-Terre, farmer Jean-Louis Butel follows the French government’s recommendations on sustainable agriculture.

“Environmental activists had us visit banana groves at night. We saw bats, and 300 or 400 other species living in the grove,” Butel says.

In recent years, yields in areas where bananas are grown exclusively have been on the decline.

On the positive side, attitudes are finally changing over the use of the pesticide chlordecone, which continues to pollute the soil despite being banned since 1990.

Those factors combined have encouraged Butel to switch to more sustainable methods.

Since 2007 “we haven’t used any pesticides, or nematicide (against roundworm parasites) and in 2014 we stopped using herbicides,” he says.

Butel has since started rotating sugar cane and bananas, while growing covering crops and deploying insect traps.

Overall, banana growers in Guadeloupe have reduced by 70% their use of pesticides, according to Jacques Louisor of the Tropical Technical Institute.

The final hurdle for many farmers is giving up treatments against the fungus that causes the leaf spotting disease called black sigatoka and can cause yields to plunge by half.

Researchers may soon be able to provide a solution: scientists at the France-based agricultural research centre CIRAD have developed a banana variety that is partially resistant to the disease.

The variety, dubbed CIRAD 925, has a slightly different taste.

It has hit the market in Guadeloupe, and by the end of the year it could go on sale in the French mainland. By 2020, it may allow farmers to transition to organic agriculture.

Marc Dorel, a researcher at CIRAD, said ending the use of pesticides is not the only obstacle that remains to shift to organic production. Issues regarding the fertilisation of the crop also remain to be resolved.

Thailand Property Awards

And then there is the cost.

“Shifting to zero chemical inputs implies higher production costs,” he said.

To ensure food security and adapt to climate change one has to look beyond industrial-scale agriculture.

You have to recognise and support small farming, which accounts for 70 to 80% in the Antilles and up to 98% in Haiti, said Harry Ozier-Lafontaine, head of the Antilles and Guiana centre at France’s INRA national agricultural research institute.

Technical researchers have all too often ignored the significance of small farms, seeing them as little more than subsistence operations.

“But in fact they are home to great biodiversity and we can seek their help in the push for agroecology, because they are more resilient than monoculture farms,” Ozier-Lafontaine explained.

INRA, which wants Guadeloupe to transition to an agroecology model, is developing animal feed using local products, in a bid to reduce reliance on imports.

The centre is also researching the shift towards a more restorative and sustainable circular economy, in order to make better use of resources.

In order for Guadeloupe to thrive, so too must its Caribbean neighbours.

A dramatic increase in recent years of sargassum algae off the coast of Brazil, linked to climate change, deforestation and pollution, has sent tourists fleeing as it spread to Guadeloupe’s shores.

INRA is working with several partner groups to turn the problem around.

“We have a project to upgrade the sargassum and to use it differently, by turning it into compost and animal feed,” Ozier-Lafontaine said.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Body found floating off Kata Beach

The headline should not be about body found floating...the truth is that another person died due to ...(Read More)


Water shut-offs announced for Wichit on Aug 16

No difference shut off or not. Need to order truck to bring water because not enough water in pipe...(Read More)


Phoenix tour boat owner to fight charges, renounces confession

Don't worry about it...all the correct people have been paid off and justice has been done. ...(Read More)


Phuket officials concerned over tourist drug users, ‘epidemic’ in Patong

Wrong focus, target supply not demand. Under 30s can bearly walk down Bangla at night now without pi...(Read More)


B20bn Central Phuket to open Sept 10

Yeah, great idea to focus on more shopping...get these stupid Chinese off the beach so Phuket offici...(Read More)


Hope floats to raise the Phoenix

If they would have called in assistance from European or American experts, this boat would have been...(Read More)


Body found floating off Kata Beach

Chalk up another...probably another Chinese, as nothing is being done to keep an eye on them and kee...(Read More)


Phuket officials concerned over tourist drug users, ‘epidemic’ in Patong

What was the VG thinking? How can he mention Phuket quality tourists in a context with drug user.Eve...(Read More)


B20bn Central Phuket to open Sept 10

3,000 MORE parking spaces, oh my god this is horrendous. The greed of these developers knows no boun...(Read More)


B20bn Central Phuket to open Sept 10

how is it there are billions to invest in shopping malls, but no money to build affordable houses fo...(Read More)