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Strategic planning for sustainable organic hillside agriculture with a farming system and value chain model in Nicoya, Guanacaste

Houdijk J., Leclerc G., Barbier B., Rodriguez Quiros R., Garcia Pinéres R.. 2016. In : AC and SD 2016 Agri-Chains and Sustainable Development: linking local and global dynamics. Montpellier : CIRAD, p. 263-263. International Conference on Agri-Chains and Sustainable Development, 2016-12-12/2016-12-14, Montpellier (France).

The Nicoya Peninsula is part of the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica and is characterized by a tropical climate with a pronounced dry season marked by droughts. On 25 of July 2016, the Association of organic hillside producers Orgánicos el Cerro Negro was recognized with the first price in the first Regional Contest on Drought Adaptation Strategies in Guanacaste, organized by CIRAD and Fundacíon Nicoyagua, HIDROCEC-UNA, CATIE, ASADA de Huacas, MAG-Chorotega, UCR and La Voz de Guanacaste as part of the FuturAgua Project. Two elements are considered key in the sustainable development of Orgánicos el Cerro Negro and of the agricultural value chain for organic products: 1) the innovative water harvesting solutions that the association has developed with the Universidad Nacional (UNA), 2) Organic certification of their production. In 2012 Orgánicos el Cerro Negro started the transition towards a Participatory Guarantee System which was enabled by Costa Rican legislation in 2002. In this system the interaction with end consumers is part of a strategy to build trust, and to create feedback loops in the value chain towards a circular flow of information. This enables better production planning for the producers. Nevertheless, the association supplies a group of clients that they believe is too small, therefore they are looking for ways to increase sales and diversify products and services in order to expand their client base and reduce financial risks. We present a value chain approach that was applied to describe and quantify the route from producer to consumer for the main organic products. On that base a strategic business plan was developed in a participative process, based on CATIE methodology for the development of strategic planning for rural associations (Gottret 2011) and on modeling farms productive hydro-agro-systems. We show how this strengthens the association by securing the consumer base, and increases its autonomy relative to government and NGO aid. The application of General Algebraic Modeling System software (GAMS Development Corporation 2013) to simulate production on farm level and the use of irrigation systems is used to back discussions to evaluate the profitability of Orgánicos el Cerro under various constraints and scenarios. We take into account the short term seasonal variations in climatologic and hydrologic conditions and long term climate prognostics, and a fluctuating, but growing demand for organic products, as well as the effect of organic certification schemes. The development of a sound model business strategy based on innovative water harvest solutions that enables sustainable production by reducing climate variability ¿ and financial risks can be shared and expanded in the wider Guanacaste region and other draught sensitive regions. (Texte intégral)

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