Identifying the factors that have greatest potential impact enables the evaluation and adaptation of the applied techniques, in order to improve the environmental performance of the production systems. The aim of this study was to perform an environmental assessment of the papaya cultivation system, performed in the conventional model under semiarid conditions. The productive chain was directly described and characterized in the field, with producers in the northeast of Brazil. For the characterization of the environmental impacts, we adopted the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), a methodology described by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 14040 and 14044), using the SimaPro software and Ecoinvent database. Aspects and impacts of the system are reported by production stages: nursery, soil preparation, fertilization, irrigation and phytosanitary treatments. Agriculture function of crop production (per kilogram of product) was adopted to analyze the cropping system. The results showed that irrigation and fertilization are responsible for the most significant impacts of the papaya production. Opportunities for reducing the environmental impacts of the farming system were identified. The importance of developing LCA studies to systems under specific semi-arid and emerging economies countries conditions was also highlighted.
Keywords: Life Cycle Assessment, Production chain, Semiarid, Irrigated agriculture, Orchad, Carica papaya L.