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Co‐production of agroecological innovations to improve sustainability in South American fruit farms

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Oliveira da Silva, Fabiana 
Arellano, Eduardo C  ORCID logo
Felipe Viana, Blandina 
Silva‐Ferreira, Vinina 
Oliveira‐Rebouças, Patricia 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:p jats:list

jats:list-itemjats:pAgricultural intensification and expansion are the main drivers of biodiversity loss that continue to increase this century, especially in South America. International markets and global policy provide incentives and frameworks to address this, but these are unlikely to be effective unless farmers on the ground are enabled and motivated to respond to them by developing long‐term solutions that fit their production systems and local contexts.</jats:p></jats:list-item>

jats:list-itemjats:pHere, we use a multi‐actor transdisciplinary approach to co‐design and test agroecological innovations suitable for intensive, exporting South American fruit farms. We focus on highly biodiverse regions experiencing habitat loss in the Mediterranean and dry tropical forest regions of Chile and Brazil, respectively. The innovations were designed to support local biodiversity without compromising productivity or quality.</jats:p></jats:list-item>

jats:list-itemjats:pFourteen farmers participated throughout the project, covering a total of 4178 ha of intensive table grape, mango and cherry production. All were under pressure from buyers to report action on biodiversity.</jats:p></jats:list-item>

jats:list-itemjats:pFarmers worked with researchers and industry representatives through an iterative process of dialogues and workshops to select, co‐design and implement three agroecological innovations: perches for birds of prey, cover crops and native hedgerows. Farmers became engaged in monitoring their effectiveness and redesigning them to suit local contexts.</jats:p></jats:list-item>

jats:list-itemjats:pWe develop an extensive set of resources for ongoing dissemination, including an online sustainability metric to report the practices carried out. Eight farms continued to implement at least one agroecological innovation beyond the end of the project, motivated by its fit to their management system and their ability to report positive actions in their supply chains.</jats:p></jats:list-item>

jats:list-itemjats:pjats:italicPolicy implications</jats:italic>. Our model of knowledge co‐production demonstrates how transdisciplinary research in agriculture, fully localised in a particular food‐producing context, can enable farmers in the global South to engage with biodiversity conservation in response to top‐down market signals incentivising sustainability. We argue that many top‐down efforts to enhance the sustainability of food supply chains, whether through market incentives, voluntary codes or trade regulations, require locally based knowledge co‐production, in which multiple stakeholders from agriculture and the food industry can benefit from working with locally based researchers.</jats:p></jats:list-item> </jats:list> </jats:p>jats:pRead the free <jats:ext-link xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="">Plain Language Summary</jats:ext-link> for this article on the Journal blog.</jats:p>


Publication status: Published


agroecological practices, sustainable agriculture, transdisciplinary research, fruticulture, ecological intensification, translational ecology

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People and Nature

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Newton Fund (BB/R016429/1)
Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo (Nexus BB/R0164291, PIA/BASAL FB0002, ANID/PIA/act192027)
Brazilian National Research Council (Call INCT ‐ MCTI/CNPq/CAPES/FAPs) (16/2014)
UKRI BBSRC Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (BB/M011216/1)
Natural Environment Research Council (NE/N014472/2, NE/N014472/1)