Tuesday, November 14, 2006 - 2:40 PM

Sustainability Aspects of Agroecological Systems in Paraiba, Brazil.

Djail Santos, Carlos Augusto C. Jesus, Adailson Pereira Souza, Walter Esfrain Pereira, Marcos Barros Medeiros, and Joaquim Patrocollo Silveira. Federal University of Paraiba, Areia, Brazil

The increasing concern with agricultural product quality and the risk of farmer`s poisoning with pesticides stimulated this study, which had the following objectives: a) to analyze the sustainability under different dimensions (social-cultural, agronomical, economic, ecological and political institutional) and b) to carry out a diagnosis of soil physical, chemical and biological properties of 21 selected units of agroecological production (UPAs) in three municipalities of Paraiba State, Brazil. A questionnaire was used and data were analyzed using Principal Components and Cluster analyses. The results indicated that the most sustainable UPAs did show high scores for other attributes as a result of a regular use of organic residues and green manure, and the adoption of minimum soil tillage practices. There is a need of technical information on soil conservation and post-harvest practices, water treatment and care, and biofertilizer production at the farm level, as well as social aspects like education, transportation and health care. Among the political institutional challenges financial support, marketing and labor trainning were the most prominent. Soil physical and biological test results indicated typical values for agroecological systems but the high value of some chemical propoerties suggest a use of relatively high doses of organic manures and a need of review of sampling methods and analytical procedures for these agricultural systems. It can be concluded that these agroecological farmers are still in the first step towards a sustainable management approach.