Considerable diversity has been observed in the uses of the palm species
Attalea speciosa Mart. ex Spreng, including its use in human and animal
food, handicrafts, construction, medicine, cosmetics, religious items,
and commercial purposes. This study assesses the relationships among the
knowledge, use, and socioeconomic characteristics of extractivists who
utilize this species in two rural communities (MacaA(0)ba and Saco
smallholdings) located in the Araripe region of northeastern Brazil.
Semistructured interviews were conducted with the palm extractivists
identified through snowball sampling. In MacaA(0)ba, 50 uses for A.
speciosa were identified, whereas in Saco, 41 uses were identified.
These uses were grouped into eight different categories, the most
prominent of which were handicrafts, construction, and human food. The
monthly income of extractivists at MacaA(0)ba was significantly and
directly related to the number of known uses. A significant and inverse
relationship was found between the age of the MacaA(0)ba extractivists
and number of known uses in the community, demonstrating that there is a
trend toward increased knowledge of the palm among the younger members
of this community. In the Saco community, there was no significant
correlation observed between the extractivist's age, monthly family
income, or commercial income from babassu and the number of known uses.
Neither was a significant relationship observed between knowledge and
current practices regarding A. speciosa in either of the two communities
studied. Babassu palm is considered a resource of high commercial
importance by the residents of these communities, and its use as a
subsistence resource was uncommon. However, access to technology may
replace some of the traditional uses of babassu and influence the type
of use practiced in the community.
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