Babassu palm in the agroforestry systems in Brazil's mid-north region

TitleBabassu palm in the agroforestry systems in Brazil's mid-north region
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1985
AuthorsMay, PH, Anderson, AB, Frazão, JMF, Balick, MJ
JournalAgroforestry Systems
Date PublishedSeptember 1985
KeywordsBabassu palm; charcoal; land tenure; northeast Brazil; Orbignya; Palmae; pasture expansion; shifting cultivation; vegetable oil

Babassu palms (Orbignya spp.) cover nearly 200,000 km2 in Brazil, providing cash income, fuel, fibre, edible oil and food to a large number of tenant farm households. Babassu is closely integrated within pastoral and shifting cultivation systems of Mid-North Brazil. In pastures, babassu provides shade for cattle, aids soil moisture retention, produces organic matter, generates supplementary farm income at little cost, and offers year-round employment. On the other hand, the persistence of juvenile palms reduces pasture grass productivity due to plant competition, and therefore there is a trend to eradicate babassu through clearcutting and understorey suppression. At moderate densities of less than 100 individuals per ha, mature babassu palms in cropland do not appear to harm crop productivity. In such cases, palms are thinned and leaves of the remaining ones are cut back, supplying fuel for the burn and nutrients to the soil. However, reduced fallow cycles due to pasture conversion threaten babassu as well as crop productivity.

Journal Abbreviation

Agroforest Syst


0167-4366; 1572-9680

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