Value Chain Investigations on Four Colombian Palm Species = Investigaciones de las Cadenas de Valor de Cuatro Especies de Palmas Colombianas
In many cultures palms offer a vast number of products, especially Non-Timber-Forest Products (NTFPs), which have been traditionally used by indigenous and mestizo groups in Latin America. Some species have gone beyond the domestic use and their commercialization has reached local, national and international markets. Among the palm products that are widely commercialized in South America are palm heart (Euterpe oleracea), extracted from the young unfolded spear leaves of the palms, and the handicraft woven from fibers (Astrocaryum chambira, A. malybo and A. standleyanum), all extracted from the leaflets. In Colombia, these four palm species are economically important for the harvesting communities as well as for wholesalers and retailers.However, commercialization has been based on the extraction of raw material from wild palm stands up to the point that several palm species are threatened by developing markets for their products, and the need of income for the harvest communities and industry. The general objective of this thesis is to describe the value chains of palm products from E. oleracea, A. chambira, A. malybo and A. standleyanum in different Colombian regional markets, as well as national and international markets, and to analyze the economic importance, potentials and implications of this trade.Data on the four value chains was gathered through interviewing all actors of the value chain and revising the literature about the commercialization of these palm products. This study assesses the main actors or organizations in the commercialization chains, their specific activities, different routes to trade products, and how well the chains currently work by conducting a qualitative and quantitative value chain analysis.Major results involve particular dynamics and distributions of the profits along each value chain, as well as common aspects: the value chains are short, simple, the commercialization channels need to be strengthened, the scarcity of the raw material is a crucial constraint for the commercialization of the products.Unsustainable harvest practices are common. Moreover, the marketing potential of each group of palm products as well as promised target markets are characterized. The principal contribution of this thesis consists in shedding light on the current status of the value chains of these four palm species in Colombia, and proposing possible routes of development to strive for sustainability in each of the value chains analysed. Moreover, this study provides information about the economic importance of the palm products to the local communities and the need to upgrade the commercialization channels, products and communal incentives to assign equitable incomes along the chain.