The (in)visible market of miriti (Mauritia flexuosa L.f.) fruits, the “winter acai”, in Amazonian riverine communities of Abaetetuba, Northern Brazil

Elsevier, Global Ecology and Conservation, Volume 14, April 2018.
Authors: 
Fagner Freires de Sousa, Camila Vieira-da-Silva, Flávio Bezerra Barros

While the sale of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) is nearly invisible in and marginal to official economic statistics, it is an important source of income for many rural populations in Amazonia. This paper discuss a NTFPs production and marketing chain (Mauritia flexuosa fruits) in Abaetetuba County, Northern Brazil. Research was carried out using the following methods: participant observation, application of semi-structured questionnaires, and by accompanying production during harvest months in 2015. Data show that this channel is made up of many actors, including riverine people (ribeirinhos), middlemen and merchants in Abaetetuba and other regions in Amazonia. Fruits are sold through short distribution channels in Abaetetuba, contributing to up to 80% of all income produced by ribeirinhos during winter months; miriti income ranges from 918.00USD to 2006.00USD per household per harvest depending on the distribution channel used. These values are equivalent to those obtained from acai (Euterpe oleracea) sales obtained by acai producers who employ moderate management levels in Amazonia, a fact that leads ribeirinhos to consider miriti the “winter acai”. The importance of miriti fruit and product sales for households in the study area is striking, and as such, policies to strengthen NTFP value chains are in great demand.