Assessing the sustainability of agricultural production - a cross-sectoral comparison of the blackberry, tomato and tree tomato sectors in Ecuador

Moreno-Miranda, Carlos; Dries, Liesbeth


Achieving a sustainable agricultural system requires an effective assessment of economic, environmental, and social conditions. Existing research has mainly focused on a single sector and lacks critical comparisons of determinants and trade-offs between sustainability dimensions. This study adopts a cross-sectoral perspective to assess and compare the sustainability performance of fruit and vegetable farms in Ecuador. Furthermore, the study analyzes the relation between sustainability outcomes on the one hand and farm resources, farmer demographics, and farm size on the other. Principal Component Analysis and a General Linear Regression model are used in the analysis. The results show that clear disparities in sustainability performance exist between different fruit and vegetable sectors. Furthermore, on average, farms with a higher social- and economic-oriented sustainability performance are more proficient in exploiting conventional resources (land and labour). In contrast, farms with a higher environmental-oriented performance display better handling of ecological resources such as water and forests. A sustainable use of resources is needed to prevent conflicts between sustainability dimensions. The research provides novel insights to stakeholders on the integrated assessment of agricultural sustainability and its results.