Ethnoecological aspects of agriculture among the Pumé

Silvana Saturno Stanford Zent About the authors


This article reports on agricultural management techniques among the Pumé from an ethnoecological perspective. The Pumé are an indigenous people that inhabit the Llanos ecoregion in Venezuela. Although some ethnographers consider them to be primarily a hunter-gatherer group, there are also reports going back to the colonial era indicating that they have a mixed farming-foraging economy. Development agents of the nation-state, whether informed or not about these ethnographic accounts, tend to look upon the Pumé similarly as a group lacking in agricultural skill and knowledge. An ethnoecological approach opens up the possibility of considering the cognitive, perceptual, cosmological and practical aspects of agriculture from the perspective of the Pumé themselves. Based on an ethnographic field study, here we describe seven forms of agricultural management that differ in terms of level or intensity of management, managed area extension, social organization of work, and harvest property/rights. Lastly, we provide a detailed description of key ethnoecological aspects of slash and burn cultivation among this group.

Agriculture; Ethnoecology; Pumé; Llanos Ecoregion; Venezuela

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