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Innovations developed within supply chains hinder territorial ecological transition: the case of a watershed in Martinique

2020 - Pauline Della Rossa, Marianne Le Bail, Charles Mottes, Magalie Jannoyer, Philippe Cattan

Abstract

Some chemical herbicides used by farmers in Martinique contaminate rivers. Agroecological innovations exist, some of which are known by the stakeholders but are not systematically used at the scale of the watersheds concerned. Our hypothesis is that the sociotechnical agricultural supply chain system built over the last 30 years restricts innovations for herbicide use in weed management systems, blocking the sustainable transition of territories.

The sociotechnical system theory was chosen as the analysis framework to identify obstacles in supply chains. As the issue cut across the supply chains at the scale of the territory, this framework was completed, for the first time, by a study of the existing links between supply chain innovation strategies and the territory through its spatial, organisational and conceptual dimensions. Interviews with supply chain actors and a review of the grey literature were analysed using this framework.

We show that the development of innovations, their type and the network of actors producing them were defined within each supply chain, according to their own objectives, with few exchanges at all levels of the territory. The efficiency of such development depended on the extent to which the supply chains are structured and, particularly, on their degree of integration and the strength of relationships between stakeholders. Indeed, watershed scale objectives are not taken into consideration in changes of practice. In this way, we identified lock-in constraining innovations design taking into account the objectives of the impact area (watershed) across supply chains for the first time.