Poverty dynamics, ecological endowments and land use among smallholders in the Brazilian Amazon
This paper analyses the contribution of the biophysical characteristics, accessibility conditions and land use/cover classes on poverty dynamics among rural smallholders in Altamira, State of Pará. Poverty-environment literature points that the increasing institutional restrictions to deforestation, along with lack of titling, may affect the ability of smallholders in the Amazon (and elsewhere) to diversify their agricultural strategies and expand their production. Using a longitudinal representative sample of rural properties/households in the Altamira Study Area (1997 and 2005), we find some evidence that corroborate this scenario. Accessibility to the property during the rainy season and the presence of alfisoils are the two main factors impacting the time spent on poverty, regardless of initial condition of the farmer. Conversely, natural capital and land use indicators are more sensitive to the initial condition, suggesting a higher level of endogeneity between them and the condition of poverty. Results suggest that improvement in property accessibility provided by local or regional government may reduce, instead of exacerbate, the demand for land by allowing farmers to capitalize for more intensive and sustainable land use strategies.
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