The palm [Leopoldinia piassaba], which grows in the upper Rio Negro and Orinoco drainages of Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia, is used for handicrafts, house construction and harvested for fruit.
Babassu palms [Orbignya] ssp. cover nearly 200,000 km2 in Brazil, providing cash income, fuel, fibre, edible oil and food to a large number of tenant farm households. Babassu is closely integrated within pastoral and shifting cultivation systems of mid-north Brazil. In pastures, babassu provides shade for cattle, aids soil moisture retention, produces organic matter, generates supplementary farm income at little cost, and offers year-round employment. On the other hand, the persistence of juvenile palms reduces pasture grass productivity due to plant competition, and therefore there is a trend to eradicate babassu through clearcutting and understorey suppression. At moderate densities of less than 100 individuals per ha, mature babassu palms in cropland do not appear to harm crop productivity. In such cases, palms are thinned and leaves of the remaining ones are cut back, supplying fuel for the burn and nutrients to the soil. However, reduced fallow cycles due to pasture conversion threaten babassu as well as crop productivity.
Nipa palm [Nypa fruticans] is a useful, versatile, and fairly common component of mangrove forests of Asia and Oceania. Because of its usefulness, it has been introduced into West Africa. In addition to a host of local subsistence uses ranging from medicines to hats and raincoats, some important commercial uses have led to management efforts and are initiating a new interest in its potential. Sap production from nipa produces an intoxicating beverage, sugar, vinegar, and alcohol that may be used as fuel. The tapping of nipa for sap involves a rather unusual kicking or beating process called 'gonchanging'. Further research in nipa sap production, together with development of more efficient collection and handling methods, might greatly enhance the usefulness of this palm.
Aguaje [Mauritia flexuosa] is a naturally occurring palm in Peru and features in the economy of Iquitos. [Mauritia] fruits are collected and sold in large quantity and are locally processed into a number of products. Trade in the fruits and related products provides employment and income for a large number of area residents, most of them women. Compared with commerce in other regional products, aguaje appears to offer an exceptional opportunity for economic advancement to women. Destructive harvesting practices are threatening continued supply of the fruit.