, Volume 38, Issue 1-3, pp 195-222

Policy issues in agroforestry: technology adoption and regional integration in the western Brazilian Amazon

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Abstract

Agroforestry systems (AFS) have received much attention from policymakers and others for their perceived ability to contribute significantly to economic growth, poverty alleviation, and environmental sustainability. Yet in many areas of the developing world where AFS have proven their agronomic potential, they have yet to be widely adopted. This paper approaches the issue with a focus on one such area – the western Brazilian Amazon, an area where economic integration within the region itself, across national boundaries, and between the region and the rest of Brazil (’regional integration‘) may soon vastly shift incentives to natural resource users. The paper addresses AFS adoption via a conceptual framework that argues for scrutinizing agronomic and socioeconomic characteristics of AFS and their potential adopters. This framework facilitates a priori assessment of whether specific AFS will be adopted, and if so, by whom and with what likely impact on the development objectives at hand. It highlights characteristics that lend socioeconomic and agronomic ’agility‘ – connoting flexibility to easily shift production systems and accompanying marketing strategies in response to unforeseen or rapid change (due to qualities of the AFS itself, or the producer). Financial performance indicators (net present value of AFS during establishment and for the life of a project, and years to positive cash flow) are presented for selected AFS, and juxtaposed to a livestock production system that is already gaining wide adoption in the area. This juxtaposition illustrates the practical effects of socio-economic and agronomic characteristics posited as influential. Against this backdrop, trends in ’regional integration' are discussed, along with implications this integration process has for AFS adoption. The paper ends with a discussion of the roles and limitations of policy in promoting AFS adoption.

This revised version was published online in June 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.