Promoting tree-based intercropping systems in the political arena : a cognitive analysis of public policies in agriculture, natural resources and rural development in Quebec
In Quebec, tree-based intercropping (TBI) systems are considered as potential contributors to climate change adaptation as well as ecological goods and services providers. TBI systems are consequently promoted by stakeholders as complex systems accurately addressing issues related to environmental deterioration, landscape degradation and rural devitalization. However, financing the implementation of these systems on farms remains a challenge. In fact, no clear policy on agroforestry or TBI systems has been developed and implemented yet in the province, complicating the work of both receptive farmers and experts. Thus, we could wonder how the arguments put forward by TBI systems promoters are or can be integrated at all in the mainstream ideas now driving three specific public policies (agriculture, natural resources and rural development). Our research uses qualitative methods and a content analysis based on Muller�s notion of referentials to understand how TBI systems can be integrated in the pre-existing referentials of actors in the agriculture, natural resources and rural development public policies. Based on the analysis of formal publications and semi-directed interviews, our preliminary results show that the referentials driving agriculture, natural resources and rural development policies are slowly shifting from strict economic development to multifunctionality and sustainable development. TBI systems may then have the opportunity to be integrated in these policies� referentials, especially when they are promoted as multifunctional and sustainable systems. Nonetheless, the integration of TBI systems is insufficient to produce large-scale policies given the present policies referentials, but may lead to small-scale initiatives support.