2001, Number 2
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ABSTRACTLivestock in mountain regions plays an important economic and social role in indigenous and small-farmer communities in Mexico. This system is facing serious problems due to human population increase, which is causing an accelerated degradation of available natural resources. As such, it is necessary to identify specific problems related to the livestock system, analyze both the status of the available resources and the productive strategies used by the farmers in order to be able to propose more sustainable land-use alternatives. In this paper a description and analysis of the structure and operating of the livestock system managed by two maya-tzotzil communities in the highlands of northern Chiapas are presented. Three economic groups of farmers were identified and classified regarding the number of cattle they owned. The lowest socio-economic group depended at least during a part of the year forest resources to graze their cattle. The two groups with the lowest amount of cattle combined agricultural, forestry and animal husbandry activities to allow them to use all the productive resources available. Among the major problems identified by the farmers were: availability of forage, cattle management, health and social-organization. These problems are strongly interrelated, and could be resolved at least partly by organizing the farmers. As an organization, farmers could negotiate development projects that would decrease the pressure over natural resources.
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