Comparative Agroecosystem Sustainability of Five Honduran Crop Production Systems

By Jeff Pack, Lori Unruh Snyder, Tim Durham, Jennifer Holm, Faith Allen, John Leeds and Ricardo Arias.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Analyses of five agricultural systems in Honduras were used to develop a sustainability matrix. Rankings were based on qualitative data collected through interviews and observations in 2007 and 2008. A variety of constraints and advantages for each farming system were identified. Subsistence and small scale operators were often at a disadvantage because their production systems were highly entrenched and resistant to change. Industrial farms exhibited greater outputs but diminished ecological resilience. Operationally, a number of constraints were implicated, including inputs, outputs, ecological factors, and lack of access to capital for diversification. The matrix revealed variations in degree and substance, largely attributed to differences in the referenced parameters. However, correlations were also observed based on operational scale. In particular, the three small-scale systems (Sustainable Harvest hillside growers, Zamorano University, and the Valdez family farm) tended to exhibit a similar sustainability profile, whereas the two larger-scale systems (Dole pineapple and Tela oil palm plantation) were also comparable. Prevailing trends between and among the systems are further investigated and discussed. To optimize sustainable outcomes, both small and large scale operations should seek reconciliation between their respective systems.

Keywords: Agroecosystem, Dairy, Farming, Honduras, Industrial, Pineapple, Subsistence, Sustainability

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.121-132. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 891.875KB).

Dr. Jeff Pack

Horticulture, Zamorano University, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

I am a professor at Zamorano University in Honduras. I received my Doctor of Plant Medicine degree from the University of Florida. I am teaching horticulture and I am interested in the research area of sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Lori Unruh Snyder

Assistant Professor, Agronomy Department, Purdue University, Lafayette, IN, USA

Dr. Lori Unruh Snyder is an assistant professor of Agronomy at Purdue University. She teaches courses in the principles of crop production and management. Lori focuses her teaching, research and outreach on experiential learning and international agriculture education. Twice a year, she leads study abroad courses in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras with participation from multiple universities. In Spring 2009, Lori was awarded the first Young Faculty Internationalization Award from Purdue University. Her academic research incorporates developing and evaluating on-line teaching modules, including game based tools for both college and high school students. Lori’s teaching style allows students to experience team-based problem solving and case-based learning.

Dr. Tim Durham

Instructor, Office of Curriculum and Instruction, University Colloquium Library, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, FL, USA

Tim is a lifelong agriculturalist. His family operates Deer Run Farm – a 30 acre “truck” farm on Long Island, New York. Deer Run grows a variety of leafy greens, including spinach, cabbage, and ethnic lettuce for wholesale in New York City. As one of a handful of farms in the area, it faces unique challenges, especially those associated with urban-edge agriculture. Tim has a keen interest in the interplay between science, sustainability, and policymaking. After graduating from Cornell University in 2001 with a B.S. in Plant Science, he worked in various levels of state and federal government while continuing to work seasonally at the farm. In 2004, Tim was awarded a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship for study at Lincoln University, New Zealand. Upon his return, he enrolled in the University of Florida’s Plant Medicine Program, a professional doctorate designed to parallel a D.V.M or M.D. The Department of Homeland Security awarded Tim a graduate fellowship in 2005. In the summer of 2006, he was a visiting fellow at Los Alamos National Lab, working with tunable diode laser spectroscopy and crop biosecurity. In 2007, Tim was awarded an NSF sponsored travel grant to participate in the Rice: Research to Production Course at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines. Tim graduated from UF in 2008. He is currently a sustainability colloquialism instructor at Florida Gulf Coast University and visiting assistant professor at Nicholls State University.

Jennifer Holm

Graduate Student, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville,, VA, USA

Faith Allen

University of Florida, Phoenix, AZ, USA

John Leeds

University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Ricardo Arias

Gradudate Student, Univesrity of Wyoming, Lamarie, WY, USA

I am a M.S. graduate of Purdue University. My home country is Honduras. I am currently seeking my PhD in Animal Science.

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