Protected horticulture, an alternative for dealing with climate change in high-temperature areas
Contributing to the generation of sustainable intensification innovations in horticultural under protected environment conditions to decrease climate change vulnerability in family farming systems in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Context of the story
Vegetable production through family farming in Latin America and the Caribbean is characterized by using traditional open field systems with a low level of technification, highly vulnerable to adverse environmental conditions, and lack of business approach. One of the objectives of agricultural production under protected conditions is to increase the efficiency of agricultural production systems. However, the use of poorly designed structures and standardized for all types of crops due to their widespread adoption, together with the agroclimatic conditions of an area, have caused that the microclimate generated inside these structures is inadequate for optimal plant growth and development.
Protected Agriculture: simulating, designing, and validating structures.
The implemented initiative
Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, funded by FONTAGRO, have joined to contribute towards the improvement of the competitiveness of horticultural systems in family farming through technological innovations for agricultural production under protected conditions. In this sense, it is necessary for an environmental, economic, and social prioritization of horticultural species, designing and validating infrastructures, and generating technical recommendations for their transfer to farmers and how these can be appropriated, to achieve this goal.
Validating infrastructure for the production of vegetables in high-temperature areas.
The technological solution
It is necessary to perform the simulation, design, building, and validation of technical, economic and environmental viable infrastructure models (mesh house - greenhouse) based on agroclimatic conditions of each region/country, and hence, improve vegetable production under protected conditions in high-temperature areas, to respond to the issues mentioned above. Similarly, technical recommendations will be validated and adjusted to improve the adaptability, productivity, and quality of the vegetables grown under protected conditions in family farming systems. During the entire process, participative research activities (workshops, field days, and method demonstrations) involving small producers will be developed to strengthen their capacities and, thus, give them a viable alternative that provides a solution to food safety in high-temperature areas.
“For our association, it is an opportunity to cultivate vegetables, especially in this area of the country that does not grow vegetables. With this initiative, we look forward to producing vegetables under protected environments.
The value chain diagnostic, mapping relevant stakeholders, identifying productive alternatives, and prioritizing horticultural species in four countries was carried out. The results showed that in Colombia, 76% of the farms are owned by the farmers, while in Panama, this value was lower, reaching only 60%. Some of the vegetable species selected per country are the following: tomato, onion, sweet pepper, chili pepper, cucumber, carrot, and lettuce, among others.
The simulation and design of two infrastructures per country were also carried out (one greenhouse and one mesh house), and they were built in Colombia, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. Furthermore, Costa Rica already started the measurement of productivity indicators of horticultural species, both inside and outside these structures.