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Perceptions regarding the challenges and constraints faced by smallholder farmers of vanilla in Mexico

Borbolla-Pérez, Verónica, Iglesias-Andreu, Lourdes Georgina, Luna-Rodríguez, Mauricio, Octavio-Aguilar, Pablo
Environment, development and sustainability 2017 v.19 no.6 pp. 2421-2441
data collection, disease incidence, farmers, fruits, marketing, technology transfer, Mexico
Mexico was the main vanilla producer worldwide many years ago. However, it currently provides just around 5 % of the global production. The issues that have led to the current stagnation of the vanilla production in Mexico have been addressed from various perspectives, but few studies have included the opinion of smallholder farmers. For this reason, the aim of this study was to conduct a participatory diagnostic to identify the challenges and constraints that affect the vanilla productive sector in Mexico from the smallholder farmers perspective. This study was conducted under the of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) approach; consequently, we used PRA techniques for data collection. The qualitative data obtained were transcribed and analyzed using the Content Analysis Method (CAM) and Constant Comparative Method (CCM). The results showed that most of the challenges and limitations referred to by smallholder farmers result from the lack of training to improve production, processing, and marketing. Likewise, various restrictive aspects were identified in the production process that affect crop productivity, such as cultivation in small parcels, high incidence of diseases, premature abortion of fruits, and low tolerance of plants to stress. An aspect common to all processes is the need to promote organization and training schemes, since under the conditions described for the vanilla production chain in Mexico, relationships have been built in highly competitive communities and, in general, the targets seek have been mutually exclusive. For the above, we consider that achieving more profitable and sustainable production schemes require placing smallholder farmers at the base of an inclusive production system supported by fair trade, with organization, institutions, technology transfer, level of trust, and cooperation as core elements.