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Vegetable crops in Martinique



Martinican agriculture offers consumers products of choice that evolve with their needs and respect for European requirements. Despite the production context specific to the island, the production of fruit and vegetables has major potential in terms of diversification, taste quality... Martinican consumers are more and more eager for locally produced fruit and vegetables, which allows to sustain production. Today a number are also looking for fruits and vegetables free of synthetic chemicals. Thus a large number of organic and organic markets that thrive on the island.


Geographical location and climate of Martinique

Martinique also nicknamed "the island of flowers" is located in the archipelago of the Lesser Antilles, bathed to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the west by the Caribbean Sea. It stretches over approximately 80 km in length, for 27 km in width. It has a rugged terrain due to its volcanic origin. Indeed, one finds a volcano located in the north of the island higher than that in the south. There are also "mornes" with rounded or flat tops and steep slopes in the south at an altitude generally between 100 and 300 meters. This relatively steep relief limits the possible areas for the expansion of agricultural land.

Martinique benefits from a hot and humid climate punctuated by two seasons: Lent (dry period) and wintering (rainy period from June to October). The temperature fluctuates between 25 and 30°C all year round.

If it is sometimes difficult to distinguish two quite opposite seasons, the combined effect of the relief and the exposure allows however to oppose a mountainous region of the north very watered, and a region of the south which is much less so. . However, within the North itself, it appears that the Atlantic coast (eastern coast) is much wetter than the Caribbean coast (western coast).

These strengths and constraints are, of course, to be taken into account when setting up specific cultures.


Soil context for fruit and vegetable production

Martinique is a mountainous and steep island in part and of small size. The extreme diversity of its soils makes it possible to envisage various cropping systems:

  • On soils on limestone rocks (vertisols and calci-magnesic soils) in the south there are many market garden crops: soils rich in magnesium, very fertile, composed of montmorillonite (compactness, adhesion, greasy touch, swelling properties, retention causing large cracks observed during the dry period). The preparation of the land during the rainy period is therefore difficult.
  • On soils on eruptive rocks (raw mineral soils, brown soil with halloysite rust) and Andosols in the north, sugar cane, banana trees and market garden crops give good results: The abundance of weatherable primary particles ensures the maintenance of some natural fertility. The tillage is quite easy.
  • ferralitic soils (red) and ferrisols are mainly present in the center: old, deep, made up of clays with a high proportion of iron hydroxides. The desiccation of the soil in the dry period is rapid. The production of market gardening and fruit trees is very present there.

One of the most serious soil constraints in Martinique remains the excessive slope of most of them, making certain mechanization work difficult and preventing certain speculations.


Agricultural production figures

With a utilized agricultural area of ​​22,695 ha (2014), the agricultural sector accounts for approximately 3.6% of salaried employment.

The agricultural soils are mainly cultivated with bananas (5982 ha) and cane (4004 ha). Most banana cultivation extends from the center of Martinique to the North Atlantic. On the other hand, sugar cane is spread over the whole of Martinique. 76% of the cane production delivered by the planters would be destined for the distilleries for the production of rums and the other part for the factories for the production of sugar, molasses, vinasse, etc. In 2014, 193,206 tonnes of export bananas were marketed. including 190770 for export.

Vegetable crops occupy 2147 ha with 77% in fresh vegetables and 23% in tubers, roots and bulbs. Permanent fruit crops are present on 686 ha with 49% in various citrus fruits and 51% in other fresh fruits.

In 2014, local production would participate in supplying the market in Martinique with 46% vegetables (with melon), 19% fruit (with bananas and pineapple) and 53% tubers. Local production seems to be losing tonnage in the face of fresh imports.


Agriculture in Martinique

Martinican agriculture has two types of production:

  • Export and industrial agriculture mainly oriented towards the production of Cevendish bananas and cane for its sugar production and distillation.
  • Diversification agriculture : oriented towards supplying the local market and agro-processing. Less than 20% of agricultural crop production transits through cooperatives. The rest is marketed through other channels such as direct sale on the farm (farmers' baskets, reception on the farm) or market. Short marketing circuits allow the farmer to promote his production through direct contact with the customer and to have direct income.


Another type of agriculture that is essential: agriculture close to the environment

With the implementation of the ecophyto plan initiated in 2008, producers have significantly improved their production practices. There is a decrease in the use of phytosanitary products and a general awareness of their impact on the environment and health.

Thus, a certain number of farmers have looked into the search for alternative solutions to the use of phytosanitary products (eg cover crops, crop associations, auxiliaries, mulches). Among these farmers, agroecology has found its place and is on the increase. To date, there are about thirty producers in organic farming.


Organic farming appeared at the end of the 90s in Martinique, in the continuity of a certain form of traditional production...

In a humid tropical climate, the constraints applying to producers are all the more difficult to manage in the context of organic production: parasitic attacks and in particular the rapid growth of weeds. Added to this are difficulties in finding suitable inputs and seeds, as well as the lack of technical and economic references.

Last change : 07/21/22
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