Ricardo Isaac Márquez, Geremias Ezequiel Sima Bojórquez, María Esther Ayala Arcipreste


Background: Oil palm is the highest economic value plantation crop in the tropics and its rapid expansion is a controversial topic around the world. In Mexico, 85% of the national production comes from plantations of small producers, they are mainly rural landholders from “ejido” communities. The way in which the peasants have carried out the productive reconversion of their lands is important to understand the social and environmental impacts associated with oil palm cultivation. Objective: The process of oil palm productive reconversion, its implications on land use and the associated impacts in terms of job and income generation, is described through the case study of a peasant community located in the state of Campeche with more than 20 years of experience working the crop. Methodology: Two surveys were applied to the community. One with a socioeconomic focus and the other with a productive approach. The former was applied to a representative sample of households (n = 60), and the latter to a representative sample of palm growers (n = 20). The first survey was aimed to describe the role of oil palm has played as a source of jobs and income, while the second focused on describing the process of productive reconversion, its implications on land use and management practices of rural plantations. The results obtained were analyzed in a participatory manner in a focus group organized in the community. Results: Oil palm is the main source of employment for half of the families in the community. Households with oil palm plantations have an income 2.7 times higher than the community average. The productive reconversion has been carried out on previously deforested lands for extensive cattle ranching and has slowed down the praderization of peasant plots. Oil palm plantations have low technology, low use of labour and inputs, and low productivity. Implications: Oil palm has become the most important land use second only to extensive cattle ranching. The farmers have important limitations that prevent them from the consolidation of the crop, which in the medium term may compromise its continuity. This would represent a high opportunity cost since oil palm has become the main productive activity that generates income and jobs in the community. Conclusion: In social terms, oil palm has proven to be effective and improve the living conditions of producers and their families, meanwhile in environmental terms it has not generated deforestation. There are important windows of opportunity to increase the productivity of peasant plantations so that the crop can be consolidated as a factor of economic and social development in rural communities.


oil palm; land use; peasants; productive reconversion.

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URN: http://www.revista.ccba.uady.mx/urn:ISSN:1870-0462-tsaes.v24i2.35052

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.56369/tsaes.3505

Copyright (c) 2021 Ricardo Isaac Márquez

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