Growing fibre crops


Piassava palm Attalea funifera is endemic to the coastal dry forests of Bahia, Brazil. Its durable, water resistant fibre has been commercially exploited since the 1500's, first in the fashioning of ship's anchor ropes and later in the manufacture of brooms and brushes. Although still destructively exploited on unattended land, piassava is increasingly being protected and managed as a valuable perennial crop. The leaf fibres harvested either seasonally or on a continuous basis, depending on the competing interests of the cutters and land owners. Management strategies for piassava habitat include: 1) benign neglect, 2) burning, and 3) planting. During burning, piassava's deep subterranean stems escape the flames, allowing this species to survive and numerically dominate the post-fire environment. Although widespread, the use of fire to 'improve' piassava habitat is temporally infrequent. Land owners began planting on an experimental basis in the 1970's. Although geographical differences in fibre quality are recognized, planting is carried out exclusively with seed from local sources. Piasava fibre exports have steadily declined since the beginning of this century due to over-exploitation and competition with other natural as well as synthetic materials. This situation has been aggravated by the rising value of the U.S. dollar. Export losses have been more than balanced, however, by the growing demand for piassava fibre within Brazil.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 15: Life on Land