Milpa, or slash and burn agriculture, is one of many livelihood strategies utilized by most households in Uaxactún, Guatemala. Participatory Rural Appraisal and Rapid Rural Appraisal revealed that although household livelihood systems are primarily based on the extraction of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), milpa is of fundamental importance. These approaches also suggest that households shift in and out of subsistence as they respond to changes in their sources of cash earnings. Ethnographic linear programming supports this premise, showing that households also modify their livelihood strategies in response to changes in the environment. How households choose to strategize and the intensity with which they participate in each livelihood activity, however, is driven by their composition and the household ratio of consumers to producers. These two factors not only determine their cash and nutritional needs, but also the size of their labor force, enhancing or inhibiting their ability to support themselves.


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