AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND PROCESSING
Introduction to the thematic
Many African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries need to respond urgently to a growing number of consumers, changing relationships between urban and rural areas, and the new eating habits of these urban populations. States must also reduce undernourishment, mainly in rural areas, and respond to challenges such as climate change, access to land, conflicts and refugees. The sustainability of agricultural practices, and of the food system as a whole, must be supported to meet these challenges.
The introduction to the Global South of the intensive production model, based on mechanisation, chemical control, fertilisers, monoculture and skilled manpower, has made a significant contribution to raising productivity and improving the profitability of the ACP horticultural sector. It has enabled many countries to become competitive on international markets. Unfortunately, as in Western countries, this intensification leads to undesirable effects on the environment, particularly on soils that can deteriorate. An objective assessment informed by by local experts and farmers is urgent. As risks related to agricultural practices (such as chemical control) are analysed and measured, production systems can be adjusted to become more sustainable.
It is therefore necessary to strengthen farmers’ capacity to analyse the risks caused by bad practices and to respond to market pressures and environmental requirements, and to help them develop robust and resilient businesses based on integrated crop production and protection systems.
COLEACP’ Sustainability Self-Assessment System is a business-management tool for fruit and vegetable producers and suppliers based in ACP countries. Value chain operators can use it to prevent bad practices, integrate good practices and consolidate the financial viability of their business. With a thorough knowledge of the impacts of agricultural practices on sustainability, the adoption of new, more sustainable production methods will be easier and faster.
The benefits generated by this shift towards greater sustainability include not only economic gains (reduced use of inputs, recovery of by-products, recycling of organic matter), but also environmental stability and social benefits. This is why soil conservation, water and energy saving, resource renewal, the fight against deforestation and the maintenance of biodiversity are at the heart of the fight against poverty. Change can be radical when producers convert their farms to organic farming, as these farmers have a much better understanding of the natural resources they manage and how they affect their businesses.
To address all these very different aspects, this course on Agricultural Production and Processing consists of five routes. Each route has two levels. The intermediate level allows you to tackle the subject and to understand the main principles, without going into all the details of implementation. Successful completion of a test will give you access to the advanced level, where you can progress in understanding the subject and address the more practical aspects of implementation (details of the steps to follow, planning of operations, procedures to implement, reporting of results, etc.).All five routes combined will enable you to achieve a very broad level of knowledge about Agricultural Production and Processing; however, each route can be studied as a stand-alone resource.