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The urban market of Açaí fruit (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) and rural land use change: Ethnographic insights into the role of price and land tenure constraining agricultural choices in the Amazon estuary

Abstract

This paper examines the recent development of the açaí fruit economy in regional Amazonian urban markets (as a staple food) and more recently among national and international consumers (as a fashion food) and the consequences for agroforestry intensification by Caboclo communities in the Amazon estuary. The paper is based on long-term ethnographic research and field experiments; the açaí fruit economy is discussed from agricultural, social, and economic perspectives; attention is given to its historical development, the structure of açaí fruit production, its agents, the relationship among themselves and the urban market. Decadal price performance is presented for açaí fruit and açaí transportation costs and compared to major agropastoral products for the Eastern Amazon region. Dominant views about the ‘economic rationality’ of rural producers' decision-making are discussed. Açaí fruit has performed as well as and in some cases surpassed most agro-pastoral products of the Northern region. Economic returns for producers reflect linkages between price signals from urban markets, harvesting decision, and land tenure condition of the producer. Urban markets for the fruit is expanding and bringing new participants to the açaí fruit economy further conditioning the ability of rural producers to take advantage of external markets for forest products. Discussion of factors conditioning agricultural development and integration between urban and rural areas conclude the article.

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Brondízio, E.S., Safar, C.A. & Siqueira, A.D. The urban market of Açaí fruit (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) and rural land use change: Ethnographic insights into the role of price and land tenure constraining agricultural choices in the Amazon estuary. Urban Ecosystems 6, 67–97 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025966613562

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025966613562

  • Amazon estuary
  • urban markets
  • forest products
  • açaí fruit
  • Euterpe oleracea
  • Caboclos
  • land use
  • agricultural prices
  • land tenure