A shady future for Brazilian agriculture? Obstacles to and opportunities for agroforestry as a sustainable alternative to current agricultural practices
Sammanfattning: As the negative environmental impacts of contemporary agriculture become still more evident and widespread, the question of how to feed future generations while preserving the vital stability of the planet’s environment is more urgent than ever. Major institutions are targeting the environmental sustainability of agriculture, internationally as well as in Brazil. Brazil is one of the largest agricultural countries in the world and also home to vast and vulnerable ecosystems of global importance such as the cerrado and the Amazon. In this thesis, I investigate agroforestry as a more sustainable alternative to contemporary agricultural practices in Brazil, seeking an answer to the question: what are the main obstacles to and opportunities for a wider adoption of agroforestry in Brazil? To answer this question, I synthesise the insights from 18 interviews with Brazilian agroforestry stakeholders and 57 literature sources on Brazilian agroforestry. The result is two tables with 11 obstacles and 8 opportunities, suggesting factors hindering the proliferation of agroforestry in Brazil and what potentially could stimulate it. I use the multi-level perspective (MLP) theory to analyse the case of Brazilian agroforestry as a potential sustainability transition of Brazilian agriculture, understanding agroforestry as a niche innovation challenging the socio-technical regime of agriculture in the country. I conclude that several regime tensions and niche momenta are present in Brazilian agriculture, interacting with the obstacles and opportunities to agroforestry that I identified. Although agroforestry seems to be gaining grounds in Brazil, it is difficult to say anything conclusive about whether it will bring about a sustainability transition in Brazilian agriculture. Transitions are rarely clear-cut nor well-defined and furthermore they are often difficult to identify in real time. However, it seems probable that a transition towards more sustainability will happen eventually, although the scope and pace is uncertain. Finally, it is worth considering that production-side approaches, such as agroforestry, alone cannot guarantee future food sufficiency. An increased focus on the impact of dietary behaviour and food waste must accompany a more sustainable production.
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