HortSys Unit research topic is the cropping system, applied to tropical horticultural crops (primarily fruits and vegetables). Our aim is to design horticultural cropping systems based on the principles of ecological intensification.
Horticulture is now seen as an essential component in global food security and in the global food balance. Horticultural systems are also a major source of income and jobs for the poorest populations in the Tropics. However, horticultural crops are particularly susceptible to pests and diseases and control methods often involve pesticides, leading to human health and environmental risks. The global challenge therefore consists in ensuring quality horticultural production in sufficient quantities and enabling the economic and social development of farmers in Southern countries, while limiting risks for human health and ecosystems.
In order to take up this challenge, it is necessary to overcome several barriers that amount to just as many orientations for research. Our priorities focus on learning about and modelling the agroecological functioning of horticultural systems, the ability to assess existing systems according to varied criteria, and the ability to improve those systems or design new ones.
Our scientific questioning centres on two priority lines of research:
- The agroecological functioning of the horticultural system.
- Assessing and designing horticultural systems that take up the new economic, ecological and health challenges.
The research unit carries out studies and appraisals on tropical horticultural crops in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. It also produces numerous technical crop guides: CD-ROMs, technical information sheets, posters.