Logo Tropentag

Tropentag, October 5 - 7, 2004 in Berlin

"Rural Poverty Reduction
through Research for Development and Transformation"

Indigenous Local Identity on Managing Natural Resources in a Typical Rural Area of the Amazon Marginal Zone – The Case of Jave Indigenous Peoples in Bananal Island, Tocantins

Herta Avalos Viegas, Werner Doppler

University of Hohenheim, Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in the Tropics and Subtropics, Germany


The rainforest zone in Brazil is under pressure through encroachment of farming and other sectors leading to an ecologically unbalanced development, reducing the living potential of indigenous peoples. In some regions, the Brazilian Government has taken actions to prevent this problem. The objective of the study is to understand and explain the dynamics of development of the indigenous communities in the forest and the different farming systems of the borders. The study area is the Bananal Island along the Javae River in Tocantins State, Brazil. The socio-economic analysis was conducted based on the Farming System Approach. Since 1996 all non-indigenous population was removed from the demarcated Indigenous Land. The research confirmed that the economic activities of the indigenous populations bring cash to the society, improving some sectors of their living. Recently schools and health services have been implemented by a local NGO and the Government. Although no correlation between the education level of indigenous peoples and their income could yet be found, an improvement on it can provide a good basis for effective communication, better understanding the actions and intentions of external people in contact with them. The low population density of this Indigenous Land is a sound basis for sustainable development. The problem rises when outsider fishermen or farmer/rancher enter the area without an effective control of their actions. In comparison with smallholder of Loroty Settlement – the poor people removed from the Island - the indigenous families reached a similar income level. In a partial analysis of farm system the differences become visible as smallholders base their economies on farm activities while indigenous peoples; on fishery and forestry extraction. It can be concluded, that there is a potential for development for the indigenous people after their areas have been protected. For the settlements, they must be guaranteed their socio-economic development to avoid future encroachment in the Island and competition for natural resources. This can be implemented through credits schemes. Large-scale farming is extremely profitable and is sharply contrasting to the other groups. This group can be seen as potential in absorbing labour-force for their large-scale productions.

Keywords: Farming systems, indigenous local knowledge systems, rainforests

Contact Address: Herta Avalos Viegas, University of Hohenheim, Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in the Tropics and Subtropics, Fruwirthstraße, 12 Institut 490 C - Universität Hohenheim, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany, e-mail: h_viegas@yahoo.com.br

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