The Influence of Community Management Agreements on House- hold Economic Strategies : Cattle Grazing and Fishing Agreements on the Lower Amazon Floodplain

  • Mcgrath D
  • Almeida O
  • Merry F
  • 29


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While the organizational dynamics of collective management systems have received much attention, relatively little work has focused on how households adapt their economic strategies in response to collective management regulations that impose constraints on the range of options available to households. In this paper we investigate the evolving interaction between household management strategies and collective management regulations for one, or both, of two ecologically interde- pendent resources: lake fisheries and seasonally inundated grasslands of the Lower Amazon floodplain in Brazil. Smallholder management strategies involve varying combinations of three main activities each associated with one of three main flood- plain habitats: annual cropping on river levees, cattle ranching on natural grasslands, and fishing in lakes. These three activities play complementary roles in the house- hold economy. Annual cropping is both subsistence and market oriented, with cash from crop sales often invested in purchase of cattle. Fishing, in addition to providing animal protein, generates income for household purchases while crops are growing. Cattle ranching is the main savings strategy for smallholders, providing funds for family emergencies and capital investments. Over the last two decades, communities throughout the Amazon floodplain have developed and implemented collective agreements to regulate access to and use of local lake fisheries and grasslands. De- pending on the measures included, the impact of these agreements on household management strategies can range from negligible to highly significant, requiring major adjustments to compensate for reduced income and/or savings potential. We identify conflict between collective and individual strategies for long-term se- curity as the critical issue for floodplain resources and conclude proposing a more household-based approach to the study of collective management systems.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Amazon floodplain
  • artesanal fisheries
  • commons
  • community management
  • households
  • small- holder ranching

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  • David G Mcgrath

  • Oreiana T. Almeida

  • Frank D Merry

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