Chamaedorea palm frond (xate) certification has been broadly promoted throughout Mesoamerica as a means to foster the integration of forest conservation and economic development. This study examined the feasibility of xate commercialization and certification at the scale of the extractor livelihood system in an ejido in the Chinantla region of Oaxaca, Mexico. Ethnographic methods were used to collect livelihood system data. These data were used to develop an ethnographic linear program (ELP) model of extractor households to analyze the effects of palm frond management and marketing scenarios on their livelihoods. Three necessary conditions for the feasibility of certification were hypothesized: two related to extractor livelihoods and another related to market fluidity. Livelihood outcomes supported the notion that resource sustainability and economic development are not mutually exclusive, and provided support for xate certification as an intervention oriented toward the integration of these objectives. In contrast, the model revealed an unfavorable discrepancy between xate supply and the level of demand expressed by an interested buyer. This shortfall represented a substantial obstacle to the feasibility of xate certification in the community. Low demand fulfillment suggested that xate certification ultimately represents an infeasible strategy for the community, irrespective of the observed livelihood and conservation benefits. Results highlighted the importance of understanding household objectives and market context in local decisions to pursue NTFP certification. We suggest that the community's objectives would best be served by engaging neighboring communities in a cooperative and controlled effort to augment regional supply.
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Acknowledgments Partial financial support for this research was provided by the University of Florida Alumni Foundation and the University of Florida’s Working Forests in the Tropics (WFT) and Tropical Conservation and Development (TCD) Programs. Sincere thanks are especially due to Janet de los Santos and her colleagues at Grupo Mesofilo, Salvador Anta Fonseca, Abel Toledo and the CRRN-P, the palm harvesters of Soledad de Juarez, Dean Current, and numerous others who provided support for this research.
- Scenario model