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In the French West Indies, and particularly in Guadeloupe, agricultural policies mainly support the banana and sugarcane export sectors. However, driven by consumer demand, policy-makers are increasingly interested in developing local and agroecological food systems. Plantain (Musa spp., AAB), cultivated by a wide range of farmers, plays a key role in the diversification of local production and food systems, contributing to food security. However, important gaps in knowledge about plantain cropping systems are hindering the understanding of their contribution to the agroecological transition of farms. Farmers are also requesting more guidance from technical advisers and research. The aim of the work, presented in this article, was to co-design agroecological plantain cropping systems with farmers in order to fill this knowledge gap and to support local food systems. The co-design process was based on the characterization of the diversity of plantain farming systems, the evaluation of changes in practices implemented between 2017 and 2019, and the co-design of a system experi- ment. We identified six types of plantain farming systems defined by the role of plantain in the production strategy of the farm and a gradient of agroecology in plantain management practices. Our results also show progress toward agroecology between 2017 and 2019. Four innovative plantain cropping systems were designed based on a combination of existing knowledge held by farmers from the six types of farming systems. These results confirm that plantain cropping systems are contributing to the agroecological transition of farms in Guadeloupe and highlight that there are multiple possible agroecological transition pathways for plantain farmers. These results also provide a concrete example of integration of academic and non-academic knowledge for the co-design of agroecological systems. Keywords Agroecology · Musa spp. · AAB · Participatory approaches · Guadeloupe · Solutions · Barriers · Trajectories Co-design 1 Introduction Agricultural systems worldwide are facing an increased * Marie Bezard demand for food under an accelerated degradation of eco- email@example.com systems and exposition to climate risks. Agroecology is UE PEYI, INRAE, F-97170 Petit Bourg, Guadeloupe, increasingly presented as a credible practice, science, and France movement to cope with these challenges (Wezel et al. 2020). Social, Economics and Geographical Sciences Group, The Agroecology is defined by a set of biophysical principles James Hutton Institute, AB15 8QH Aberdeen, Scotland such as enhancement of biodiversity, recycling of biomass UR ASTRO, INRAE, F-97170 Petit Bourg, Guadeloupe, and nutrients, and efficient use of natural resources as well France as governance principles such as sustainable governance UR Ecodéveloppement, INRAE, F-84914 Avignon Cedex 9, of natural resources and co-creation of knowledge. These France principles can be applied from crop level to the entire food UMR Innovation, CIRAD, F-97130 Capesterre-Belle-Eau, system (Gliessman 2016; Wezel et al. 2020). Guadeloupe, France There are two main pathways for agroecological transi- INNOVATION, Univ Montpellier, CIRAD, INRAE, Institut tions. The first is a weak agroecological transition based on Agro, F-97130 Capesterre, Guadeloupe, France Vol.:(0123456789) 1 3 28 Page 2 of 19 M. Bezard et al. a search for higher efficiency or the substitution of mineral in these approaches lies in the consideration of scientific fertilizers by organic ones yet does not break with depend- and endogenous knowledge to design innovative systems ence on purchased fertilizers and pesticides. The second is a (Berthet et al. 2016). This integration of knowledge is cru- strong agroecological transition based on the enhancement cial for under-researched crops that are not supported by of biodiversity and ecological processes in agricultural sys- public policies although they play a key role in local food tems (Duru et al. 2015a, b; Horlings and Marsden 2011). systems. This second pathway calls for the exploration of radical In the French West Indies, there is growing interest on innovations (Martin et al. 2013). the part of both policy-makers and consumers to develop Co-design approaches in agronomy aim to support farm- local and agroecological food systems in regions dominated ers in the design of innovative practices, with a combination by export-oriented agricultural systems (mainly banana and of practices at crop, farm, or territory scales, including the sugarcane). This interest follows a major scandal linked spe- design of innovative decision support systems. They may cifically to the use of a remnant pesticide, chlordecone, an be led by the farmers themselves or by researchers engaged obsolete organochlorine insecticide and colorless solid, now in a participatory process. They are based on a diagnosis of banned worldwide, in export banana cropping systems that the objectives of the farmers and the problems they face (Le contaminated, in part, the food system (Cabidoche and Lesu- Gal et al. 2011; Meynard et al. 2012; Duru et al. 2015b). eur-Jannoyer 2011) of Guadeloupe. Recently, the Regional From a researcher’s perspective, co-design approaches help Council launched an agroecological plan (Regional Council to identify the diversity and performance of farmers and 2020) aiming to support innovative projects favoring local techniques being implemented, based on the farmers’ own food sovereignty based on the agroecological principles creativity. From a farmer’s perspective, such co-design of recycling, farm and food diversification, valorization of approaches support network building and technique/tech- local knowledge, cultures, and circular economies to meet nology co-development. It also makes it possible to design the interests of civil society (Barlagne et al. 2015). In Gua- systems in synchrony with the environment and knowledge deloupe, plantain (Musa spp., AAB) is a food crop used for of farmers (Geilfus 2008). cropping system diversification, which plays a key role in There are diverse design theories, but they share similar the local food system, as it is strongly anchored in the tra- concepts, namely the designation of the object of transfor- ditional diet (Fréguin-Gresh et al. 2020). However, despite mation, the choice of specific goals, and the identification the importance of plantain for the Guadeloupean diet and of intended users of possible solutions resulting from the agriculture and important research and development pro- design process (Martin et al. 2013). Meynard et al. (2012) grams on plantain in other tropical areas (Côte et al. 2010; described two ways of designing agricultural systems: the Dépigny et al. 2018, 2019), in Guadeloupe, the crop has improvement of existing systems (rule-based design) and been under-researched and poorly supported by agricultural innovation (innovative design). Rule-based design mobilizes policies compared to export (Ozier Lafontaine et al. 2018). existing knowledge for problem solving (Le Masson et al. The studies that have been carried out have been exploratory 2006), while innovative design opens up the field of pos- and have highlighted the great diversity of farming systems sibilities by using stakeholders’ creativity. growing plantain with practical and experiential knowledge The co-design of innovative farming systems is generally on plantain cropping practices (Forite 2011; Ogisma 2011; based on a description of existing farming systems and the Delone 2014; Bezard 2017; Morin 2019) (Fig. 1). Farmers exploration of new systems using prototyping, modelling, are now asking for more support from research and develop- focus group discussions, and/or experimental stages, such ment actors, to develop their plantain cropping systems to as system experimentation, to assess the achievement of meet local demand. assigned objectives (Giller et al. 2008; Meynard et al. 2012). Given the scant scientific research on plantain cropping Design workshops are key elements in the co-design of agri- systems and the increasing demand from policy-makers and cultural systems with actors. Jeuffroy et al. ( 2022) identified civil society to develop under-researched crops dedicated four main axes to be considered: (i) the design target, (ii) the to the local diet following agroecological principles, this choice of participating actors, (iii) the knowledge sharing, work aimed to co-design innovative agroecological plantain and (iv) the sequencing of the workshop meetings. farming systems that integrate knowledge held by farmers Various authors have described the main characteristics on plantain cropping systems. of co-design processes used to support agroecological transi- To achieve this objective, we characterized the diversity tions (Duru et al. 2014, 2015b, a; Berthet et al. 2016). Given of existing plantain farming systems in Guadeloupe (in the the transdisciplinary nature of agroecology that integrates two main islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre), we ana- academic and non-academic knowledge to understand and lyzed the evolution of plantain cultivation practices between build complex agricultural systems (Montenegro de Wit and 2017 and 2019, and we co-designed alternative systems with Iles 2016; Wezel et al. 2020), one of the main challenges farmers through a series of structured interviews and focus 1 3 Co‑designing innovative plantain cropping systems to support the diversity of agroecological… Page 3 of 19 28 Fig. 1 Plantain farmers in Guadeloupe are engaged in a diversity of tution or from efficiency to redesign. At the efficiency level, herbi- pathways along an agroecological gradient compared to conventional cides continue to be used, but in reduced amounts and more effec- practices used in export farming systems with subsidized purchased tively (optimal doses). At the substitution level, the farmer replaces inputs. In this figure focusing on the farm scale, weed management herbicides with a brushcutter. The redesign level involves an ani- illustrates the transition from conventional management using herbi- mal and the implementation of a cover crop for weed control. Other cides toward more agroecological practices. The arrows illustrate the sociotechnical changes are involved at food system and global scales diversity of transition paths. It is not always a gradual pathway; it is (authors’ elaboration) possible to move directly from conventional to redesign or to substi- groups. We discuss the contribution of this work to the lit- the territory and is intended for the local market (Agreste erature on the integration of farmers’ and scientists’ knowl- 2020) (Fig. 2B). edge for the co-design of agroecological systems. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, plantain is among the crops intended for local markets and is grown on 120 hectares, with a total production of 1116 tons of green 2 Materials and methods bananas (Agreste 2020). In Guadeloupe, many farmers, and particularly those growing crops for the local market, are not 2.1 Case study officially registered as farmers (Andrieu et al. 2022). Since these crops are poorly supported by public services, and Guadeloupe is a French overseas region in the Caribbean because most farmers engage in multiple economic activi- (16° 15′ N, 61° 35′ W) (Fig. 2A), composed of two major ties, the farmers tend not to declare themselves as farmers islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, the study areas, and and fail to be registered in national statistics. Consequently, several smaller islands (Marie Galante, Saintes, Désirade, 120 hectares is probably an underestimate of the actual plan- and Petite Terre) (IEDOM 2021). tain production. Plantain is produced on vertisols, nitisols, Agriculture in Guadeloupe is still widely dominated by ferralsols, and andosols. The latter are particularly fertile two export monocrops (sugarcane and Cavendish banana) (Sierra and Desfontaines 2018). (Agreste 2020). The historical area of export banana pro- duction known as the banana belt (in French the “croissant 2.2 A three‑step methodological approach bananier”) is in the southeast of Basse-Terre on fertile niti- sols (Lucien Brun 2014; Sierra and Desfontaines 2018). The methodological approach used to co-design plantain Sugarcane is grown in two different areas: North Basse- cropping systems was based on three steps (Table 1): (i) ana- Terre on ferralsols and Grande-Terre on vertisols, the lat- lyzing the diversity of plantain farming systems, (ii) analyz- ter characterized by a limited availability of water for crops ing changes in plantain production practices between 2017 (Lucien Brun 2014). Diversified agriculture (livestock farm- and 2019 (years when the surveys were conducted), and ing, food crops such as plantain, etc.) is present throughout (iii) co-designing workshops to define alternative systems 1 3 28 Page 4 of 19 M. Bezard et al. Fig. 2 A Guadeloupe location. B Export crop areas in Guadeloupe is included in a “Creole banana” category (which does not allow to are in South Basse-Terre for export banana and in North Basse-Terre discriminate the plantain). There is no agricultural production in cen- and Grande-Terre for sugarcane with various agropedoclimatic con- tral Basse-Terre as it is occupied by a National Park (authors’ elabo- texts. Diversified agriculture is not linked to a specific area. On this ration based on data from the “Relevé Parcellaire Graphique 2017”, map, only export crops (banana and sugarcane) have been represented Direction de l’Alimentation, and de l’Agriculture et de la Forêt, Gua- since they are the best described in official statistics. The latter do not deloupe) offer information on the location and surface area of plantain, which Table 1 Mixed research methods were used to understand the diversity of agroecological pathways in plantain farming systems in Guadeloupe in a three-step approach Steps 1. Analyzing the diversity of 2. Analyzing the evolu- 3.1. Co-designing alternative 3.2. Co-designing alternative plantain farming systems tion of plantain production plantain cropping systems plantain cropping systems practices between 2017 and Years 2017 2019 2019 2021 Methods Semi-structured interviews Semi-structured interviews 2 rounds of focus groups 1 focus group to discuss the Snowball sampling (in 3 different locations to barriers to the implementa- favor farmers’ participa- tion of the new cropping tion) to co-design cropping systems proposed systems Qualitative discourse analysis Sample 41 farmers (initial sample) 29 farmers (18 from the 15 farmers for each round 9 farmers initial sample) (30 in total) Stakeholder group Research team Research team Farmers and the research Farmers and the research team in charge of the team (facilitators) (facilitators) step Variables Role of plantain in the pro- Plantain production prac- Plantain plot plans Types of plantain farmers duction strategy tices Plantain production practices Types of barriers Commercialization strate- Barriers and solutions to Types of solutions gies plantain production Outputs Typology of plantain farm- Typology update Alternative cropping systems Analysis of the barriers and ing systems Graphic and statistical Categorization of barriers solutions to plantain produc- Statistical analysis analysis and solutions to plantain tion production A system experiment tested on-station 1 3 Co‑designing innovative plantain cropping systems to support the diversity of agroecological… Page 5 of 19 28 (Deytieux et al. 2012; Harvard et al. 2017) and to analyze inputs, (ii) replacing industrial or conventional practices with farmers the associated barriers and solutions. In this with alternative practices in substitution to expensive and work, the first two steps aimed at establishing a diagnosis environmentally harmful inputs, and (iii) redesigning the of existing agroecological transitions or barriers faced by agroecosystem based on ecological processes to promote individual farmers to transition toward more agroecological internal synergies and recycling of biomass and nutrients. systems based on a description of current plantain farm- We used the ESR framework to assess the gradient of agro- ing systems and practices along an agroecological gradient, ecology of plantain production practices described by farm- and the third step aimed to collectively co-design innova- ers. For this, we evaluated five plantain production practices: tive agroecological plantain cropping systems (Jeuffroy et al. (i) fertilizer application, (ii) weed management, (iii) pest 2022). Such sequential steps based on the characterization and disease management, (iv) crop diversity (including crop of current practices, the understanding of the performances rotation and crop combinations), and (v) irrigation. For each of cropping systems, the exploration, and implementation of production practice, the minimum score (0) corresponded to new cropping systems are similar to the ones proposed in the conventional practices characterizing export banana systems DEED (describe, explain, explore, (re)design) methodology in 2017, while the maximum score (4) corresponded to the (Giller et al. 2008). most agroecological practices found during the interviews (Table 2). The maximum score for irrigation was 2 since 2.2.1 Analyzing the diversity of plantain farming systems only three practices were observed during the surveys. The total score was obtained by summing all five practice scores. The objective of this first step was to analyze the diversity The highest possible score was 18 while the lowest was 0. of plantain farming systems. Semi-structured interviews The median was 9. We then categorized the practices of the were conducted in 2017. Farmers previously surveyed and farmers into “high agroecological level” or “low agroeco- willing to be re-surveyed were engaged in the sampling logical level” according to the total score obtained. High (Forite 2011; Ogisma 2011). Since many farmers are not agroecological level corresponded to a total score higher registered on public administration lists because they are than 9 (equivalent to the substitution and redesign levels not formally considered to be farmers, we used a snow- in the ESR framework), and low agroecological level cor- ball sampling approach (meaning that a first survey was responded to a total score between 0 and 9 (equivalent to the used to identify more farmers to be surveyed, (Reed et al. efficiency level or lower). 2009)) to identify at least one farmer per agroecological Each interviewee was asked about their commerciali- zone of Guadeloupe (Mantran et al. 2017). In 2017, 41 zation strategies. Two possible strategies were identified, semi-structured interviews were conducted, followed in namely pricing strategies and non-price competition strate- 2019 by 29 interviews (including 18 from the 2017 sam- gies. We defined pricing strategies as strategies to maximize ple), for a total of 52 farmers interviewed. We only sur- plantain yield, minimize production costs, and sell large vol- veyed plantain farmers who were the owners. We did not umes through cooperatives, whereas non-price competition include export banana workers, who also produce plantain strategies distinguish the product by its quality, integrate in remote areas of Cavendish export farms, because they the mode of production, sell small volumes of higher qual- did not want to be surveyed. ity products. A typology of plantain farming systems was constructed To compare the significance of differences of practices in two stages considering different time and space scales: between farmers’ strategies, we used a Kruskal-Wallis (i) the description of the role of plantain in the production test. This nonparametric test renders it possible to com- strategy and (ii) the evaluation of the agroecological gradi- pare means between groups when there are over two cat- ent of plantain cropping systems based on the production egories, the data does not follow a normal distribution, practices in 2017 for the different production strategies. The and the variances are unequal. We then performed a non- description of the role of plantain in the production strategy parametric post hoc test (Munzel and Hothorn 2001) to of the farm was based on the description of the dominant make a pairwise comparison of significant differences. crop and the year that plantain had been introduced. The Statistical analyses were performed with R software (R efficiency-substitution-redesign (ESR) framework defined Core Team 2022). by Hill and MacRae (1996) is often used to describe a gra- dient of agroecological practices at field and farm scales. 2.2.2 Analyzing the evolution of plantain production Gliessman (2016) proposed adding the food systems scale to practices between 2017 and 2019 (29 farmers) the latter two scales. The ESR grid highlights gradual steps of transition corresponding to the following: (i) increas- A second series of field surveys was conducted in 2019 to ing the efficiency of conventional or industrial practices to characterize changes in plantain production practices since reduce the use of expensive and environmentally harmful 2019 and their drivers (i.e., conjunctural drivers linked to 1 3 28 Page 6 of 19 M. Bezard et al. climatic conditions or more strategic drivers). In total, 29 farmers were interviewed, including 18 from the initial sam- ple. Their production practices were assessed based on the evaluation framework used in 2017 (Table 2). For the new interviewees (11 farmers, identified by snowball sampling), their practices both in 2017 and 2019 were surveyed and assessed. We compared the agroecological score for the five prac- tices between 2017 and 2019 using the Wilcoxon signed rank test to compare the significance of differences. We chose this nonparametric test as we compared 2 years (n = 2), and the data are not independent (the same farmers were surveyed in 2017 and 2019. 2.2.3 Co‑design of agroecological plantain cropping systems Three rounds of focus groups were conducted (two in 2019 and one in 2021) in three locations to facilitate the participation of farmers from the different production areas of Guadeloupe (South Basse-Terre, North Basse-Terre, and Grande-Terre). The first round of focus groups aimed at co-designing various plantain cropping systems. It involved 13 farmers from the initial sample and four new farmers who had heard about the exercise from the farmers who had been surveyed. Two engineers, one technician, and one trainee facilitated the focus group. They first presented the results of the sur - veys from steps 1 and 2 to (i) collectively validate them and (ii) ensure knowledge sharing with farmers (Jeuffroy et al. 2022). They also shared information on the experimental station (soil type, surface, wind direction) where the most promising cropping systems would be tested. In North Basse-Terre, farmers were split into two groups of four participants, and in Grande-Terre and in South Basse-Terre, four and five farmers participated, respectively. The second round focused on co-designing the manage- ment practices associated with the cropping systems defined in the previous round and involved the 15 farmers who attended the first focus group. The focus group was facili- tated by the same four facilitators. A qualitative discourse analysis was conducted based on the focus groups to identify and categorize the biotechnical and economic barriers to implementing innovative production practices in plantain production and the technical and organizational solutions that could potentially address them. An analytical framework was built as follows: the barriers were classified into four categories (technical, economical, sanitary, and other), and the solutions were classified according to the ESR frame- work (Hill and MacRae 1996). A solution was categorized in the efficiency or the substitution level if it involved a single 1 3 Table 2 The calculation of the gradient of agroecology for plantain practices was based on the efficiency-substitution-redesign ESR framework for five production practices. For fertilizer appli- cations, recommendations for conventional practices were to apply 100 g (of mineral fertilizers) per plant and per month (which corresponds to the 0 score) ESR framework Conventional Efficiency Redesign Agroecological score 0 1 2 3 4 Fertilizer application 1.2 kg mineral fertilizer/plant/ 0.6 kg mineral fertilizer/plant/ 0.3 kg mineral fertilizer/plant/ 0.1 kg mineral fertilizer/plant/ Organic fertilizer (no mineral year year year year fertilizer) Weed management Herbicides only Herbicides + mechanical Herbicides + manual control Mechanical control (brushcutter Manual control only (machete, control (brushcutter and/or and/or tractor) + manual mulching, etc.) tractor) Pest and disease Fungicides only Fungicides and leaf removal Fungicides occasionally + alter- Alternative controls only Leaf removal only (no input) management (out native controls (pheromone (pheromone traps, ashes, of crop rotation) traps, cinder, neem decoction, neem decoction, and leaf and leaf removal) removal) Crop diversity Number of crops = 1 or fallow Number of crops = 2–3 or fal- Number of crops = 4–6 Number of crops = 7–9 Number of crops = 10 or more or (including crop < 6 months low from 6 to 12 months fallow of more than 12 months rotation and inter- cropping) Irrigation Irrigation (in response to a Irrigation (in response to the Rainfed water deficit) observation of water stress on the plant) Co‑designing innovative plantain cropping systems to support the diversity of agroecological… Page 7 of 19 28 change of practice and in the redesign level if it involved a 3 Results and discussion change in the entire cropping or production system. The third focus group (in 2021) aimed at the following: (i) 3.1 Characterization of plantain farming systems: prioritizing the barriers and the solutions identified in 2019 production strategy, degree of agroecological and (ii) linking barriers, solutions, types of plantain farms, transition, and marketing strategies and context. The participants were identified by a specific color related to the type of plantain system they belonged to. 3.1.1 Three production strategies of plantain farms After participants were given the opportunity to complement the list of barriers and solutions identified in 2019, they were Based on the dominant crop in the farm and the year of asked to prioritize the barriers according to four modalities: introduction of plantain, three main production strategies of (i) non-existent, (ii) minor (i.e., a barrier that exists but that plantain farming systems were defined as being derived from is not an obstacle to plantain production), (iii) medium (i.e., the following: (i) export banana farms (EB-strategy), (ii) a barrier that exists but is manageable), and (iv) major (i.e., sugarcane farms (SC-strategy), and (iii) diversified systems a barrier that is an obstacle to plantain production). Farmers (D-strategy) (Fig. 3A). then identified which solutions could address which barrier. Sixty percent of the EB-strategy farmers (13 farmers) To assess the importance of the solutions, their nature and stopped exporting Cavendish bananas and replaced this crop frequency (how often they were chosen) were recorded. with plantain. None of the interviewees had grown plantain at During all of the focus group discussions, individual the beginning of their careers. They explained that they chose times of reflection preceded collective times to limit plantain to replace Cavendish because the production practices fixation effects (the exploration of a limited number of were very similar to those applied to Cavendish (e.g., fertilizer unvaried solutions) (Jeuffroy et al. 2022) and to allow applications or weed management) but were less constraining farmers exploring a broad diversity of practices. Paper- because they did not need to meet export standards. boards were used to allow farmers to draw the crop- For the SC-strategy farms (22 farmers), sugarcane ping system they wanted to explore using their own remained the most important crop (in terms of area), and representations. plantain was introduced to diversify crops and incomes. For Fig. 3 Construction of the typology in two steps. A Three production banana strategy with a high score (EBh) (three farmers), farms having strategies for plantain farming systems were defined according to the an export banana strategy with a low score (EBl) (ten farmers), farms dominant crop and introduction year of plantain: systems that were with a sugarcane strategy with a high score (SCh) (thirteen farmers), (i) specialized in export banana (EB-strategy), (ii) specialized in sug- farms with a sugarcane strategy with a low score (SCl) (nine farm- arcane (SC-strategy), and (iii) diversified (D-strategy). B Six types ers), farms with a diversified strategy with a high score (Dh) (thirteen of plantain farming systems were defined by intersecting the produc- farmers), and farms with a diversified strategy with a low score (Dl) tion strategies and the agroecological scores: farms having an export (four farmers) 1 3 28 Page 8 of 19 M. Bezard et al. two thirds of the SC-strategy farmers, introducing plantain significant between Dl and EBh and between Dl and SCh was a way to respond to incentives related to land reforms (Table 4, part B). (Zébus 1999) or to respond to demands from local markets There was a link between the farming system types and and/or cooperatives. The plantain farmers using this strategy the marketing strategies. The types with a low agroecologi- were the only ones who did not grow plantain continuously, cal score (EBl, SCl, Dl) mostly had pricing strategies as doing so only when the crop was deemed interesting due to defined in section 2.2.1 and chose cooperatives as their pre- high prices and good marketing opportunities. They tended ferred marketing channel. This strategy implied the use of to abandon plantain cultivation as soon as they estimated conventional production practices such as the use of pesti- that it was no longer profitable. For example, 2021 was cides and mineral fertilizers. On the other hand, the types characterized by a surplus of plantain on the market and a with a high agroecological score preferred non-price com- subsequent drop in plantain prices. As a result, at least eight petition strategies. Farmers with a high agroecological score farmers in the sample (out of a total of 52 farmers from the sold their plantain via various short marketing channels (on 2017 and 2019) abandoned plantain production in 2021. the farm, basket delivery to consumers, on local markets, The last group of plantain farms (D-strategy) corre- or specialized shops), which are less demanding in terms sponded to diversified systems (17 farmers) in which plan- of volumes. Therefore, they did not aim at achieving high tain has been present since the beginning of the farm’s his- yields. On the contrary, the lower use of mineral fertilizers tory for the majority of the interviewees. and pesticides was used as a marketing argument. Banana and sugarcane export systems structure agricul- This diversity of marketing strategies can be linked to tural strategies in the French West Indies (Della Rossa et al. the absence of a structured market and probably to the large 2020; Fanchone et al. 2020). Here, we see that the role of share of informal production. The diversity of marketing plantain in cropping systems die ff rs according to the level of strategies highlights the adaptation of farmers to chang- the preponderance of these export crops in farming systems. ing circumstances and to manage risk as highlighted in the This has also been observed in neighboring islands such as analysis of Hansson et al., (2013). This adaptability is one Dominica (Barclay et al. 2019). pillar of agroecological systems that aim to diversify their livelihoods and strengthen links between producers and con- sumers (Wezel et al. 2016). 3.1.2 Weak and strong level of agroecological practices associated with a specific marketing strategy 3.2 A shift toward more agroecoecological practices between 2017 and 2019 The characterization of the five plantain production practices highlighted a wide diversity and showed a varied commit- The agroecological score was compared in 29 plantain farm- ment to agroecological transition depending on the type of ing systems between 2017 and 2019. The score increased farmer. for the majority of the systems (16), remained the same for We found six plantain agroecological scores of plantain four systems, and decreased for nine (Fig. 4). The differ - cropping systems: export banana high (EBh), export banana ences between 2017 and 2019 for each practice, regardless low (EBl), sugarcane high (SCh), sugarcane low (SCl), of the strategy, are not significantly different as shown by the diversified high (Dh), and diversified low (Dl) (Fig. 3B). Wilcoxon signed rank test (Table 5, part A). Looking at the The characteristics of each type are presented in the practices separately, the differences are not statistically sig- Table 3. nificant for five types: farms having an export banana strat- The differences between the farmers’ groups in 2017 were egy with a high agroecological score (EBh), farms having related to four practices: fertilizer application, weed man- an export banana strategy with a low agroecological score agement, pest and disease management, and crop diversity. (EBl), farms with a sugarcane strategy with a high agroeco- Significant differences between groups are marked by an logical score (SCh), farms with a diversified strategy with a asterisk (*) in (Table 4, part A.) Posthoc tests provide a bet- high agroecological score (Dh), and farms with a diversified ter understanding of where the significant differences lie. strategy with a low agroecological score (Dl). The differ - They have shown that for fertilizer applications, the differ - ences are statistically significant for the weed management ences were significant between Dh and Dl, between Dh and for farms with a sugarcane strategy with a low agroecologi- EBl, between Dh and SCl, between Dl and SCh, between cal score (SCl) (Table 5, part B). EBl and SCh, and between SCh and SCl. For weed man- Thus, the use of mineral fertilizers and pesticides agement, differences were significant between Dh and SCl, decreased between 2017 and 2019 for each plantain farm- between Dl and SCh, and between SCh and SCl. For pest ing system (Fig. 5). The farmers belonging to the types hav- and disease management, there were significant differences ing a high agroecological score (EBh, SCh, Dh) explained between EBh and EBl. For crop diversity, differences were this decrease by their increased awareness of the negative 1 3 Co‑designing innovative plantain cropping systems to support the diversity of agroecological… Page 9 of 19 28 1 3 Table 3 Characteristics of the six types of plantain farming systems: farms having an export banana strategy with a high agroecological score (EBh), farms having an export banana strategy with a low agroecological score (EBl), farms with a sugarcane strategy with a high agroecological score (SCh), farms with a sugarcane strategy with a low agroecological score (SCl), farms with a diversified strategy with a high agroecological score (Dh), and farms with a diversified strategy with a low agroecological score (Dl).*Creole gardens are modelled after the former home gardens that enslaved persons, who worked on large export farms, once cultivated to meet their food needs. They are characterized by complex crop associations and high biodiversity and are now studied as models for agroecological practices (Chevalier 2017) Type (agro- Fertilizer application Weed management Pest and disease managements Crop diversity Irrigation ecological score) EBh (12) Organic fertilizers preferentially Mostly mechanical or manual Alternative methods (phero- The majority of the farmers asso- Mostly without irrigation (rainfed) or combination of organic and weeding mones to trap weevils) ciated other crops with plantain mineral fertilizers (especially at the end of the cycle) EBl (6) Only mineral fertilizers Herbicides Fungicides to cope with cer- Sole crop Systematically for the majority cosporiosis SCh (13) Mineral fertilizers but in smaller Combination of herbicides (in Most use leaf removal to control The majority of the farmers asso- Mostly without irrigation (rainfed) quantities (between 100 and and between the rows) and cercosporiosis, and only one ciated other crops with plantain 300 g per plant and per year) mechanical (brushcutter) or used fungicide and combined with organic manual method fertilizers such as manure SCl (6) Mineral fertilizers (between 600 Herbicides (in and between the Fungicide only or combined with Rotation with sugarcane Systematic irrigation in the driest and 1200 g per plant and per rows) pheromones traps areas year) Dh (14) Very little use of mineral fertiliz- Brushcutter mostly and manual Leaf removal and for some alter- Various associated crops as in the Mostly without irrigation (rainfed); ers (around 100 g per year and management native methods such as decoc- traditional creole garden (jardin none use systematic irrigation per plant) and always combined tion of plants (e.g., Azadirachta créole in French)* with organic fertilizers such as indica) and ashes manure or vermicompost Dl (6) Mineral fertilizers Herbicides Leaf removal No associated crops but rotations The majority irrigates (system- with other diversification crops atically or according to the such as pineapple and vegetable observation) (tomatoes, pumpkins, etc.) 28 Page 10 of 19 M. Bezard et al. Table 4 (A) Kruskal-Wallis rank test of the differences between (EBl), farms with a sugarcane strategy with a high score (SCh), farms farmers’ practices for each production strategy in 2017 and (B) post with a sugarcane strategy with a low score (SCl), farms with a diver- hoc test to identify where the significant differences lie. The farm- sified strategy with a high score (Dh), and farms with a diversified ers’ strategies are farms having an export banana strategy with a high strategy with a low score (Dl). Significant differences are marked by score (EBh), farms having an export banana strategy with a low score an asterisk (*) A. Interaction practice strategy (practice: strategy) P-value Fertilizer: strategy < 0.01* Weed management: strategy < 0.01* Pest and disease management: strategy 0.01* Crop diversity: strategy < 0.01* Irrigation: strategy 0.22 B. Post hoc test P-value fertilizer P-value weed P-value pest and P-value crop management disease management diversity Interaction Dh and Dl 0.00* 0.06 1.00 0.51 Dh and EBh 0.35 0.19 0.21 0.70 Dh and EBl 0.01* 0.08 0.20 0.89 Dh and SCh 1.00 0.53 1.00 0.94 Dh and SCl < 0.01* 0.04* 0.31 1.00 Dl and EBh 1.00 0.28 0.92 0.00* Dl and EBl 1.00 0.99 0.87 0.99 Dl and SCh 0.01* 0.02* 1.00 0.01* Dl and SCl 0.95 1.00 0.92 0.09 EBh and EBl 0.99 0.44 0.03* 0.17 EBh and SCh 0.45 0.96 0.21 0.99 EBh and SCl 1.00 0.06 0.06 0.55 EBl and SCh < 0.01* 0.14 0.20 0.16 EBl and SCl 0.87 0.71 1.00 0.75 SCh and SCl 0.03* <0.01* 0.31 0.26 impacts of the use of mineral fertilizers and pesticides, agroecological practices alone would not allow the neces- whereas the others, belonging to the types having a low sary systemic change. In this study, the farming system agroecological score, explained this decrease as a response types with high agroecological scores were in an explicit to newly imposed regulatory constraints (for example a her- transition toward agroecology with the associated systemic bicide ban in October 2018). This is coherent with earlier transformations of the farms, whereas the types with lower work by Barlagne et al. (2016), who found that internal (e.g., scores were only reacting to regulatory bans and substi- education, performance of the advisory services) and con- tuting their conventional practices with alternative ones. textual (e.g., evolution of the agricultural regulatory frame- Events like regulatory changes can be related to “drivers work) drivers either enabled a smooth transition or coerced of change” (Barlagne et al. 2016) and “triggering events” farmers into adopting agroecological practices. (Sutherland et al. 2012). As in this study, Sutherland et al. The change in the agroecological score was high for the (2012) show that a major change occurs in response to types with the lowest scores in 2017 (Fig. 4). The decrease a “triggering event.” If such events are absent, practices between 2017 and 2019 of the average score for the SCh tend to be maintained or follow a similar trajectory over type, the only one for which the score decreased, was time. In the case of Guadeloupe, Barlagne et al. (2016) explained by farmers as a result of weather conditions. The anticipated that these drivers of change would lead to two year 2019 was drier than 2017, so farmers used more water, contrasting agricultural development pathways, one where resulting in a negative impact on the agroecological score. Guadeloupean agriculture is on the decline because the For Nicholls et al. (2016), the agroecological transi- farming sector has failed in adapting to change (and in tion is the application of agroecological principles in a particular, the need for more sustainable agricultural prac- comprehensive manner rather than just the implementa- tices) and the other where a thriving farming sector has tion of a set of agroecological practices. Implementing achieved a successful agroecological transition. 1 3 Co‑designing innovative plantain cropping systems to support the diversity of agroecological… Page 11 of 19 28 Fig. 4 Evolution of plantain practices between 2017 and 2019. The ers), farms with a diversified strategy with a high agroecological agroecological score of plantain practices between 2017 and 2019 score (Dh) (eight farmers), and farms with a diversified strategy with evolved in different ways according to each type: farms having an a low agroecological score (Dl) (one farmer). It increased for EBl, export banana strategy with a high agroecological score (EBh) (three SCl, Dh, and Dl; decreased for SCh; and stagnated for EBh. The error farmers), farms having an export banana strategy with a low agroe- bars correspond to the standard error wich is the standard deviation cological score (EBl) (six farmers), farms with a sugarcane strategy divided by the square root of the total number of samples (number of with a high agroecological score (SCh) (six farmers), farms with a farmers). The standard deviation is calculated from the agroecologi- sugarcane strategy with a low agroecological score (SCl) (five farm- cal score of each practice Table 5 (A) Wilcoxon signed rank test of the differences between a high agroecological score (SCh), farms with a diversified strategy 2017 and 2019, regardless of the strategy. (B) Wilcoxon signed rank with a high agroecological score (Dh), and farms with a diversified test of the differences between 2017 and 2019 for each practice and strategy with a low agroecological score (Dl). The differences are sta- for each type. The differences are not statistically significant for five tistically significant for the weed management for farms with a sugar - types: farms having an export banana strategy with a high agroeco- cane strategy with a low agroecological score (SCl). Significant dif- logical score (EBh), farms having an export banana strategy with a ferences are marked by an asterisk (*). NA corresponds to the values low agroecological score (EBl), farms with a sugarcane strategy with not available (when the data are ex aequo between the 2 years) A. Practices regardless of strategy P-value Fertilizer 0.08 Weed management 0.17 Pest and disease management 0.22 Crop diversity 0.62 Irrigation 0.42 B. Practice P-value EBh P-value EBl P-value SCh P-value SCl P-value Dh P-value Dl Fertilizer 0.37 0.05 0.87 0.13 0.82 1.00 Weed management 0.20 0.65 0.23 0.02* 0.61 1.00 Pest and disease management NA 0.65 0.24 0.66 0.35 NA Crop diversity 0.11 1.00 0.40 0.91 0.59 1.00 Irrigation 1.00 0.59 0.34 1.00 0.70 NA 1 3 28 Page 12 of 19 M. Bezard et al. Fig. 5 Evolution of agroecological score of plantain practices arcane strategy with a low agroecological score (SCl), E farms with between 2017 and 2019. The agroecological score evolved in dif- a diversified strategy with a high agroecological score (Dh), and F ferent ways according to each practice (fertilization, weed manage- farms with a diversified strategy with a low agroecological score (Dl). ment, pest and disease management, crop diversity, and irrigation) The radar chart represents the evolution over time of the score of all of each type: A farms having an export banana strategy with a high studied quantitative variables (agroecological score) on individual agroecological score (EBh), B farms having an export banana strat- axes (corresponding to all studied practices) starting from the same egy with a low agroecological score (EBl), C farms with a sugarcane central point strategy with a high agroecological score (SCh), D farms with a sug- 1 3 Co‑designing innovative plantain cropping systems to support the diversity of agroecological… Page 13 of 19 28 The results also showed that the cause of the changes is of Guadeloupe who were not present in this group. This explained differently by the farmers according to their type comparison between PIF and vitroplants was also discussed and, therefore, their trajectory. in the group that proposed cropping system 4. In this case, farmers wanted to compare a method already implemented 3.3 Innovative plantain systems either part by “banana professionals” (vitroplants), which they never of strong or weak agroecological transition used themselves with another method that, according to them, could respond locally to a lack of healthy plants (PIF 3.3.1 Four innovative cropping systems method). In the four plantain cropping systems, farmers associated The first two rounds of focus groups held in three differ - other marketable crops (such as peas, malanga, sweet pota- ent locations led to the collective definition of four plantain toes, cucumbers, and peppers) with plantain. The rationale cropping systems. Cropping systems 1 and 4 were the prod- was to ensure a quick cash flow while waiting for the plan- uct of a consensus in the group that defined one system. In tain bunches to be harvested and to cope with the uncertainty one group (the one held in North Basse-Terre), they defined of commercialization (due to uncertain markets or climatic two distinct cropping systems: cropping systems 2 and 3 hazards), a barrier common to all of the farming system (Table 6). types and specifically critical in crops that take almost a year In the group that proposed the first cropping system, com - to produce. Associating crops was not an innovative practice posed in a majority by EB-strategy farmers, they discussed for Dh farmers who already do so in their systems, but it was the opportunity to compare the performances of vitroplants an innovative practice for EB-strategy farmers (especially and the PIF (Plant Issus de Fragments de tige) method (Kwa the EBl type) whose cropping systems are mostly based on 2003), which is a technique for on-farm sanitation and mul- monocropping. This latter group of farmers probably main- tiplication of plantain plants. This method was assessed in tains conventional monoculture systems today; since as Bar- Cameroon, and results showed that the plants produced with bosa et al. (2016) showed in Brazil on Prata Ana banana the PIF technique had the same agronomic quality as vit- (Musa spp., AAB), these systems have the highest yields roplants (Sadom et al. 2010). The PIF technique has very and the best economic viability. However, they do not allow low production costs, but vitroplants guarantee a lower quick cash flow, which is an important criterion for many health risk (Sadom et al. 2010). Vitroplants are commonly farmers to secure their income. used in export banana systems, and EB-strategy farmers are In terms of spatial design, farmers chose a double row accustomed to use this kind of material. However, the use system with one wide row spaced far enough apart to maxi- of vitroplants in plantain systems was new in 2019 in Gua- mize yield and production costs, as done in export banana deloupe, although adopted in other countries such as Cam- systems (Kesavan et al. 2002). Farmers who proposed crop- eroon (Youmbi et al. 2005). Eleven pilot farms were testing ping system 2 (mainly D-strategy farmers) chose to increase plantain vitroplants as part of a research project conducted the space between rows, mostly to facilitate weed manage- between 2017 and 2019 that assessed plantain yields during ment with tractors. This practice was new for farmers who four successive plantain production cycles after vitroplant use herbicides, but not for those who use a compact tractor introduction. One farmer involved in the experiments was on their farms. present at this focus group and able to share the results. The type of nutrient supply chosen during the co-design Using the PIF method was suggested by the D-strategy was also linked to the type of farmers present in the group. farmers of the group. The method was new for these farm- In three of the cropping systems, farmers chose local organic ers but was already being implemented by other farmers fertilizers. In cropping system 4, because all participants Table 6 Main characteristics of the four cropping systems defined to the Faux Corne type (Scherschel 2017). The PIF (Plant Issus de collectively. The Blanche variety corresponds to the French Clair Fragments de tige) method is a technique for on-farm sanitation and type and the Corne, Mbouroukou, and the Domenico-Hartón Enano multiplication of plantain plants System 1 2 3 4 Plantain variety Blanche Blanche/Corne/Mbouroukou Blanche/Corne/Domenico-Hartón Enano Blanche Plant preparation PIF vs. vitroplant PIF PIF PIF vs. vitroplant Crop association Yes Yes Yes Yes Rows Double Simple Double Simple Fertilizer Mineral Local organic Local organic Local organic Irrigation Yes No No Yes 1 3 28 Page 14 of 19 M. Bezard et al. had livestock, the choice was manure. For cropping sys- in the banana export systems. Angeon and Bates (2020) tems 2 and 3, farmers chose manure as an amendment and highlighted the technology package logic that was encoun- vermicompost as a fertilizer. Using vermicompost was tered with the EB-strategy farmers with this preference for new. The proposal to produce and use vermicompost was a imported resources that may be eligible for subsidies such recurrent topic mostly proposed by the research center and as vitroplants. However, over the past decade, the banana associations promoting agroecological practices in the Car- export sector has implemented its own agroecological transi- ibbean to have access to fertilizers at local level. However, tion due to the scandal (Risède et al. 2018) associated with in Colombia, the second-largest plantain producer in the the decade-long use of chlordecone. It consequently makes world, the use of vermicompost is more related to nema- sense to replicate some of the agroecological practices that tode management (Bautista M. et al., 2015; Martha Marina are used in Cavendish systems in plantain cropping systems. Bolaños Benavides et al. 2020) than to fertilizer application. Furthermore, at territorial scale, synergies could be found In cropping system 1, farmers chose mineral fertilizers that with Cavendish systems and the various plantain systems to they already mostly use. close possible nutrient gaps. In the group that proposed cropping system 4, the par- In this process, the cropping systems designed were ticipants chose to irrigate to cope with a lack of water. mostly a mix of common practices and new ones already This choice to include an irrigation system was linked to implemented by innovative farmers. Trust in personal expe- the drought intensity in the area (Mantran et al. 2017). The rience and in other farmers considered as “experts” played group that proposed cropping system 1 also chose irrigation, a central role in the choice of these practices. The central but in this case, it was related less to a proven constraint in place of trust in innovation adoption, linked to geographic their cropping area than to the fact that they already had proximity, was identified by Ramírez-Gómez et al. (2020). access to irrigation. Farmers were able to ask their own questions regarding The cropping systems proposed by farmers considered the performances of these practices to these experts. Mon- the structural characteristics of farms (e.g., presence or not tenegro de Wit and Iles (2016) argue that non-academic of animals in the farm), biophysical constraints (e.g., dis- knowledge and expert testimony should be better valued ease or drought), technical constraints (e.g., space for weed in protocols aiming to produce evidence in agroecology. management), environmental constraints (e.g., soil leach- Due to the lack of research on plantain cropping systems ing), but also economic constraints (e.g., uncertainty of com- in Guadeloupe, scientists were not always able to answer mercialization), highlighting the systemic vision they had in certain questions. The research team specifically provided the design process. scientific knowledge on how to implement PIF. Addition- Discussions between farmers with the research team made ally, the research team proposed methods and tools to it possible to identify innovative practices, such as the use evaluate existing practices along an agroecological gradi- of animals for weed management. However, such innovative ent, facilitate knowledge exchanges between farmers, and practices were not chosen in the final designs presented in support them to design by themselves innovative cropping Table 6. During the consensus-building process that aimed systems addressing their constraints. For Chizallet et al. to select the most promising alternative plantain cropping (2020), the role of scientists in such processes is to equip systems, farmers mostly chose practices and designs they (with frameworks and tools) the farmer, who is a non- believed would be both successful (with an almost certain professional designer. Here, the research team equipped probability of success based on their personal experience farmers already engaged in an agroecological transition. and/or their exchanges with other farmers) and able to allevi- According to the ladder of participation defined by Arn- ate the constraints identified. Relying on farmers’ knowledge stein (1969) and Geilfus (2008), that goes from a passive and experience to weight the available options and select posture to a personal development posture, this process the one with the highest chances of success and/or the most was between functional participation, as the objective of able to address the identified constraints is characteristic of the project was pre-established (co-designed agroecologi- a rule-based design as defined by Meynard et al. (2012). It cal plantain systems), and interactive participation, as the can lead to fixation effects (Jeuffroy et al. 2022), but put- farmers themselves evaluated the systems. ting together farmers from diverse types engaged in various pathways toward agroecology limited these effects. 3.3.2 Barriers and solutions to implementing Among all of the groups, the one that proposed a crop- agroecological cropping systems ping system that differed most from the farmers’ current practices was the group that proposed cropping system 4. The last focus group made it possible to focus on the barri- Farmers decided to introduce trees into the system to limit ers to implementing agroecological cropping systems and soil leaching. Meanwhile, the group that proposed crop- consequently on constraints not always considered in the ping system 1 was very inspired by changes implemented design of the four cropping systems. 1 3 Co‑designing innovative plantain cropping systems to support the diversity of agroecological… Page 15 of 19 28 Fig. 6 The participants of the 2021 focus group prioritized barriers. The barriers with * correspond to the barriers added by the farmers before the prioritization: farms with an export banana strategy and a low agroecological score (EBl), farms and sugarcane strategy with a low score (SCl), and farms with a diversified strategy and high score (Dh). Labor requirement corresponds to the working duration while the painfulness of the on-farm labor corresponds to the hardness of the task The commercialization/marketing barrier was common fungus that spreads quickly under high humidity conditions to the three focus groups but appeared as a major barrier (Kwa and Temple 2019). for D-strategy farmers who are less involved in structured A gradient of agroecological solutions was mentioned, organizations. The EB-strategy farmers who were mostly ranging from those favored by export banana type farmers members of a cooperative of farmers that supports com- interested in technological packages (vitroplants, commer- mercialization did not see marketing or commercialization cial imported inputs, etc.) eligible for subsidies, to those as a barrier even though this was mentioned in 2019 (Fig. 6). favored by farmers who were very committed to transform- As for commercialization, constraints related to weevils ing their farms based on agroecological principles (local (Cosmopolites sordidus) and nematodes (Radopholus simi- compost, knowledge of the environment, etc.). The most lis) were common to all focus groups because they depend agroecological systems were those that relied the most on on the sanitary state of plants and the soil (Gold et al. 2001; local resources and which were the least subsidized and/or Haegeman et al. 2010). In Guadeloupe, nematodes were technically supported. This gradient was also present in the identified as the major pest on plantain (Rhino et al. 2010) marketing channels, ranging from marketing via coopera- associated with the lack of production and access to healthy tives for those implementing technological package systems plants (Delone 2014). However, weevil and nematode con- to direct sales on farms for the most agroecological sys- straints appeared to be greatest for diversified (Dh) and tems. Various authors highlight the importance of territo- export banana type (EBl) farmers (Fig. 6). Possible reasons rial anchorage to move toward more agroecological systems why this is not a major barrier for the sugarcane type (SCl) (Duru et al. 2015b; Thénard et al. 2021). may be explained by (i) the recent introduction of plantain The type with the highest agroecological score (Dh) also in their cropping systems, and therefore probably low wee- proposed the most agroecological solutions (redesign solu- vil pressure, and (ii) the sanitizing character of sugarcane, tions). A set of redesign solutions involving the entire crop- which leads the crop rotation, in relation to soil pests. ping systems or farming system was mentioned by D-strat- Nutrient supply was another common barrier for all of the egy farmers (Fig. 5), such as the PIF method (Kwa 2003) focus groups in 2019. As for the commercialization/market- and the use of Commelina diffusa, a cover crop, to cope with ing barrier, it was not mentioned by the EB-strategy farmers weed management. These were also mentioned by SC-type in 2021, for the reasons explained above, and appeared as farmers, but not by EB-type farmers. a major barrier for the D-group farmers. EB-strategy farm- The number of substitution solutions mentioned was ers’ better access to inputs via the cooperative also probably almost equivalent to the number of redesign solutions explains why this was not a barrier. (Fig. 7). The solution that was the most frequently men- Some of these barriers were specific to a given location, tioned (6 times) was the use of a brushcutter to deal with and this is the case for irrigation in North Grande-Terre weeds, a technique increasingly used in various cropping and cercosporiosis, which is a disease only mentioned in systems, including Cavendish banana systems. It was men- the Basse-Terre groups where the humidity is high (Man- tioned by the D and SC-strategy farmers. D-strategy farmers tran et al. 2017). It is caused by Mycosphaerella fijiensis, a identified the choice of other plantain varieties as a solution 1 3 28 Page 16 of 19 M. Bezard et al. Fig. 7 The links between the agroecological barriers (in orange), the solutions (in blue), and the types of plantain farming systems were analyzed in the efficiency-substitution- redesign ESR framework (Hill and MacRae 1996). The intensity of the link corresponds to the number of times the lever was mentioned to cope with a barrier (the more farmers chose it, the thicker the link). The EB-strategy corresponds to the export banana strategy (black line), the D strategy to the diversified strategy (green line), and the SC-strategy to the sugarcane strategy (red dashed line). In the redesign solutions, PIF corresponds to the PIF (Plant Issus de Fragments de tige) method, a technique for on-farm sanitation and multipli- cation of plantain plants to cope with three groups of health barriers, namely cer- Fanchone et al. (2020) highlighted the need for innovations cosporiosis, telluric parasites (weevils and nematodes), and in these various types of farms. other pests (snails, rats, and caterpillars). The other substitu- This specific step of the method was complementary tion solutions were the use of local organic amendment for to the design workshops, highlighting additional techni- supplying nutrients (mentioned by all three strategy groups) cal alternatives known by farmers to address the barriers and to address low yields (mentioned by D and SC-strategy they identify. It showed that the farmers knew a range of farmers); the use of black soap that is currently tested by technical solutions. However, not all of these solutions farmers to cope with cercosporiosis (mentioned by D-strat- had been implemented. Therefore, it highlighted the need egy farmers) and the plant preparation (mechanical cleaning to better understand the flows of knowledge and of mate- and soaking, mentioned by D-strategy farmers) to cope with rial and financial resources between plantain farmers and the lack of healthy plants and the use of pheromone traps to other actors within the innovation system to identify those control weevil populations/infestation (mentioned by the SC currently promoting or locking these technical solutions at and EB-strategy farmers). the territorial scale, especially the most influential actors. None of the EBl types mentioned solutions corresponding Such knowledge would facilitate the design of organizational to the redesign of the farm (production system). The differ - innovations found to be the key to support the agroecologi- ence in the choice of more or less agroecological practices cal transition. by different farm types was highlighted by Fanchone et al. (2020) in Guadeloupe and Martinique, with farms mainly oriented toward export (sugarcane and Cavendish banana) 4 Conclusion that were subsidized and more interested in a weak agro- ecological transition based on existing practices, and farms This work aimed to co-design innovative agroecological from diversified systems already engaged in agroecological plantain farming systems that integrate knowledge held practices moving toward a strong transition. With this work, by farmers on plantain cropping systems, in order to (i) 1 3 Co‑designing innovative plantain cropping systems to support the diversity of agroecological… Page 17 of 19 28 CR-FEADER-1420-DCEP-1456 RITA2-Domaine Vegetal) in the strengthen the scant scientific research on plantain cropping IntensEcoPlantain. This study was also co-funded by the European systems and (ii) address the increasing demand from policiy Union (European Regional Development Fund, grant INTERREG V makers and civil society to develop under-research crops Caraïbes number 7629 signed 6 May 2021). This study was also co- dedicated to local diet following agrocecological principles. funded by the PEYI experiment unit. We highlighted that plantain production practices and mar- Data availability The data and material are available upon demand to keting/commercialization strategies in Guadeloupe are very the corresponding author. diverse, and this diversity is reflected in the observed agro- ecological transition of farmers, with some systems close to Code availability The datasets analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. strong agroecological transition, while others are closer to weak agroecological transition. The co-design of innovative Declarations systems helped plantain farmers to define agroecological solutions for innovative plantain production in Guadeloupe Ethics approval Informed consent was obtained from all individual capable of addressing the specific barriers that they face. participants included in the study. Farmers identified solutions to overcome these barriers, and Consent to participate Participants have been informed of the purpose in so doing improved their contribution to agroecological of the research and have been given the opportunity to ask questions transition. In a context where scientific research on plan- and withdraw from the study in which case their data would not be tain cropping systems of Guadeloupe is lacking, the role of used. All participants to the surveys and the focus groups had access to a non-opposition information sheet (“Fiche d’information non-oppo- research scientists in this process was to facilitate exchanges sition”) informing them of their rights. of a diversity of endogenous knowledge held by farmers. A system experiment is now in place on an experimental sta- Consent for publication The research conducted complies with the tion and will allow scientists to evaluate the performance General Data Protection Regulation (RGPD, Reglement pour la pro- tection des données personnelles), and all participants consented to of the proposed cropping systems. In addition to biotechni- participate in the study. cal indicators, economic indicators of these systems could be evaluated. This work may be continued in the future by Conflict of interest The authors declare no competing interests. improving scientific knowledge on some specific constraints highlighted, particularly around marketing channels, which Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attri- were identified as a major barrier for the agroecological bution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adapta- tion, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long transition. as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes Acknowledgements The authors are grateful to the Regional Council were made. The images or other third party material in this article are of Guadeloupe for its support of the PhD project, to the European included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated Union for funding the FEDER project AgroEcoDiv, FEADER project otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in IntensEcoPlantain, and INTERREG project CambioNet, and to the the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not experimental unit PEYI of INRAE Antilles Guyana Center for co- permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will funding the PhD project. Special thanks go to the participants in the need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a interviews and focus groups for their time and inputs into the research, copy of this licence, visit http://cr eativ ecommons. or g/licen ses/ b y/4.0/ . to the trainees Lionel Scherschel, Raphaël Morin, Coralie Ferdinand, Alexia Crézé, and Wylliam Darmalingon who have contributed to the research since 2017, to Audrey Ganteil and Sébastien Guyader for help with statistics, Catherine Odet for the photographs taken, and to the References entire PEYI experiment unit for logistical support. Authors' contributions Marie Bezard, Jean-Louis Diman, Valérie Agreste (2020) Memento de la statistique agricole. https:// daaf. guade Angeon, and Raphael Morin contributed to the study conception and loupe.ag ricultur e.gouv .fr/ IMG/ pdf/ memen t o_2020_ inter ne t_cle48 design. All authors contributed to the development of the methodol-14fe. pdf. Accessed 24 Aug 2021 ogy. The data collection was performed by Marie Bezard and Raphaël Andrieu N, Blundo-Canto G, Chia E et al (2022) Scenarios for an Morin. The data visualization was prepared by Marie Bezard, the first agroecological transition of smallholder family farmers: a case draft of the manuscript was written by Marie Bezard, and all authors study in Guadeloupe. Agron Sustain Dev 42:42–95. https:// doi. commented on earlier versions of the manuscript. All authors read and org/ 10. 1007/ s13593- 022- 00828-x approved the final manuscript. Angeon V, Bates S (2020) Mettre en œuvre la transition agroé- cologique : une analyse des règles de décision dans les systèmes Funding This study was funded by the Regional Council of Gua- bananiers aux Antilles françaises. Rev Econ Reg Urbaine 3:503– deloupe for the thesis scholarship (grant number CR/5-2020 signed 529. https:// doi. org/ 10. 3917/ reru. 203. 0503 14 August 2020). This study was co-funded by the European Union Arnstein SR (1969) A Ladder Of Citizen Participation. J Am Inst Plann (European Regional Development Fund, grant number 2015-FED- 35:216–224. https:// doi. org/ 10. 1080/ 01944 36690 89772 25 202 GP0007652 and 2019-FED-33 GP0022338 for the second tranche Barbosa FEL, de Lacerda CF, Amorim AV et al (2016) Production fund) and the Regional Council of Guadeloupe (grant number CR / and economic viability of banana managed with cover crops. Rev 16-68 signed 28 September 2016) in the AgroEcoDiv project. This Bras Eng Agríc Ambient 20:1078–1082. https://doi. or g/10. 1590/ study was also co-funded by the European Union (Grant number 1807- 1929/ agria mbi. v20n1 2p1078- 1082 1 3 28 Page 18 of 19 M. Bezard et al. Barclay J, Wilkinson E, White CS et al (2019) Historical Trajectories a review. Agron Sustain Dev 35:1259–1281. https://doi. or g/10. of Disaster Risk in Dominica. 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Agronomy for Sustainable Development – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 1, 2023
Keywords: Agroecology; Musa spp.; AAB; Participatory approaches; Guadeloupe; Solutions; Barriers; Trajectories Co-design
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