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4 April 2017
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Agroecological approaches to banana production

A cover crop of Arachis pintoi growing
under bananas. (Photo: CIRAD)

How close are we to producing bananas using agroecological principles? It depends how one defines agroecology. To the extent the discipline is not wedded to specific farming methods — organic or conventional — and agroecologists do not necessarily oppose technology or inputs, any management practice that reduces the use of pesticides or fertilizers can be said to be agroecological.

Strictly speaking, however, agroecology takes its cue from nature's self-regulating capacity. As CIRAD scientist Jean-Michel Risède said in his opening remarks to the ProMusa symposium on agroecological approaches to banana production, agroecology is based on the harnessing of ecological and biophysical mechanisms to amplify natural regulation and improve resource use efficiency in agricultural systems.

CIRAD scientist Thierry Lescot (left) engaged in a Socratic dialogue on agroecology and smallholder farmers with his colleague Sylvain Depigny.

In that sense much remains to be done to turn agroecological theory into practice, especially with regards to harnessing the soil's pest and disease control services, one of the most discussed topics at the symposium (see the highlights from the meeting). One approach is to increase plant diversity, but as keynote speaker Philippe Tixier noted in his presentation, biodiversity is not a silver bullet. To be successful, pest regulation strategies that depend on the provision of ecosystem services require a high level of integration of ecological processes.

For more information on the symposium and examples of agroecological approaches, browse the following resources from the ProMusa website.

News and blogs

Agroecology and the banana: from theory to practice

TR4 as a driver of agroecological approaches

Dialogue on the future of Plantain-based cropping systems

With a little help from (functional) biodiversity

Battling an invisible enemy

Related resources

Presentations from the ISHS-ProMusa symposium on agroecological approaches

Musapedia portal on Pesticide-reducing practices
(also available in French and Spanish)
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Copyright © 2017 ProMusa, All rights reserved.
This newsletter is produced by Bioversity International (www.bioversityinternational.org) as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (www.rtb.cgiar.org) supported by the CGIAR Fund Donors (http://www.cgiar.org/our-funders/).

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