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Socioeconomic and environmental impact of the monoculture of cotton. A whole approach for a study of a case (Chaco, Argentina)

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Authors: S.C. Calvo, G. Bergamín, C.F. Lara, P. Sander
Issue: 96V-3 (185-206)
Topic: Plant Production
Keywords: Cotton, monoculture, Argentine, impacts, socioeconomic, enviromental

Traditionally, the province of El Chaco in Argentina has been the main producer of cotton around the country. The intensification of cotton in the area devoted to agriculture as well as an increase in the sown land with cotton in areas devoted to cattle or woods have sharpened the dependence of producers in relation to this cultivation. This dependence and the oscillation of cotton international prices produce continous crisis in the productive sector and in the province too. The objective of this research work is to examine the reasons producers have not to diversify the actual productive system and to evaluate in a simplified way the socioeconomic and environmental impacts that are generated by cotton as monoculture.
The analysis of the factors of socioeconomic impact has been done in a "macro" level (provincial and departmental) and the outline of Porter (1993) has been applied. As regards the "micro" level a study of a case corresponding to a cotton producer of the province of "El Chaco" was analyzed. The simplified evaluation of the environmental impact was developed taking into account the actors' opinions and applying the Delphi technique.
Among the results we can mention: the cotton plasticity, the price, the mechanic harvest and the debt level as the main causes thet encouraged the cotton expansion. Among the environmental impacts, the most evident is the one that is produced in the soils closely related to an excess of labor and the kind of plowing.

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