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Boletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. Ciências Humanas

Print version ISSN 1981-8122


ZENT, Stanford  and  ZENT, Egleé. Jodï horticultural belief, knowledge and practice: incipient or integral cultivation?. Bol. Mus. Para. Emílio Goeldi. Ciênc. hum. [online]. 2012, vol.7, n.2, pp.293-338. ISSN 1981-8122.

This paper describes the Jodï horticultural system, including belief, knowledge and practice aspects. The horticultural practices of the Jodï were previously characterized as 'incipient cultivation' but such practices were poorly described and documented. The antiquity of cultivation among this group is suggested by the prominence and significance of horticultural products and techniques in myth and ritual. Our field observations uncovered a fairly sophisticated system of plant management in swiddens, house gardens, trail gardens and natural forest gaps. An inventory of 67 cultivated plant species was documented, of which 36 are utilized for food, 20 for magical or medicinal purposes, and 11 for technology. The Jodï prolong the productive phase of their gardens for five years or more through successive planting-harvesting-replanting operations. Jodï swiddens display an elaborate polycultivated appearance and they possess at least five principal crops: plantain/banana, maize, yams, sweet potato, and sweet manioc. Another distinctive feature is the extensive use of natural gaps in the forest canopy as cultivation zones. The results of this study suggest that while Jodï horticultural practice is well integrated with a nomadic, foraging-dependent lifestyle, nevertheless this system does not deserve to be labeled as 'incipient' and instead is more integral than was recognized previously.

Keywords : Horticulture; Agroecology; Incipient cultivation; Jodï; Venezuelan Guayana; Amazonia.

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