by V, Levasseur and Alain Olivier
Shifting slash-and-burn agriculture is likely one of the main causes of forest degradation in southern Belize. Although many development projects have attempted to reduce the impacts of agriculture on the tropical rainforest, the situation is still a cause for concern. A study of the farming system of the San Jose Maya community was therefore carried out to examine agricultural production in its social, cultural, economic, and political context. Results demonstrate that agricultural production contributes to forest degradation because of the limited availability of agricultural land, the low level of investment in agricultural production, the land tenure system, limited marketing opportunities, and the exclusion of Mayas from the country’s political and economic domains. Agroforestry could, however, offer a partial solution to the problem of forest degradation. Three types of traditional agroforestry systems are practised in San Jose: the milpa (a slash-and-burn agriculture system), cacao (Theobroma cacao) cultivation under shade trees, and the homegarden. These traditional agroforestry systems almost entirely meet a family’s needs for food and wood, and generate at least 62% of family income. Improving the productivity of these systems could help to reduce pressure on the forest in southern Belize.
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Keywords: cacoa, homegarden, household perspectives, milpa, participatory observation, qualitative research
Suggested APA Reference: Levasseur, V. & Olivier, Alain. (2000). The farming system and traditional agroforestry systems in the Maya community of San Jose, Belize. Agroforestry Systems. 49. 275-288.