El uso múltiple de los suelos en America Tropical; problemas y perspectivas
Salas, G. de las
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Agricultural production in Latin America has increased by about 3 percent per annum during the last 25 years. Low crop yields in soils unsuitable for permanent agriculture and rapidly growing human population (2,9 percent p.a.) both worsen a precarious agricultural economy. The oil crisis has raised the cost of farm inputs so much that, in areas having a small landholding structure, farming is no longer profitable. Good land management in areas of steep slopes, infertile soils, with excessive rainfall, or other significant restrictions is a serious problem for rural populations with limited resources. A land classification for Latin America shows: 5,8 percent (120 million ha) of arable land, forests, bush and permanent grass land 24,3 percent for extensive grazing and 48,7 percent remaining under natural vegetation. The potentially usable land amounts to 524 million ha (25 percent of total land) of which 53 percent has soils of low productivity or which are poorly drained. Only 100 million ha (20 percent of potentially usable land) occupy alluvial soils suitable for intensive crop production. On the other hand, in Central America 64 percent of all land (32 million ha) is regarded as "marginal", that is to say, not suitable for profitable permanent agriculture or pasture. The facts summarized above, demand that we consider more efficient methods of land use, more in harmony with the general environment and which should exploit soil resources currently not fully utilized. The concept of Multiple Land Use, which seeks to use all parts of an ecosystem simultaneously in an integrated harmonious manner, seeMON particularly suited to regions suffering from the described limitations to agricultural production.