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University of Arizona (1981)

PEASANT MIDDLEMEN AND MARKET PROCESSES IN NORTHEAST BRAZIL

Finan, Timothy Joseph

Titre : PEASANT MIDDLEMEN AND MARKET PROCESSES IN NORTHEAST BRAZIL

Auteur : Finan, Timothy Joseph

Université de soutenance : University of Arizona

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 1981

Résumé
This dissertation explores the dynamics of market relationships in a regional vegetable market in the Serra da Ibiapaba, Ceara, Northeast Brazil. During the last two decades this region has undergone a rapid socio-economic transformation involving the widespread adoption of intensive cropping patterns and modern farming technology. Vegetable, especially tomato, production has increased the economic viability of small-farm alternatives ; however, farmers now find themselves caught up in market forces over which they have little control. The Ibiapaba vegetable market supplies four large urban markets within Brazil’s North/Northeast, and the structure of the supply channels to each market varies significantly. Analysis of a middleman sample reveals that this market accommodates remarkable diversity—small and undercapitalized marketers, large truckowners, and several variations between these extremes. Not only is this market open to many types of market enterprise, it also provides an opportunity for upward mobility, the major mechanism of which is the purchase of a truck. The highly perishable nature of vegetable products and the organizational exigencies of long distance marketing make this profession extremely risk-laden. Not only do market participants face highly variable prices, but also rigid schedule demands. Since these products cannot be stored, middlemen must be able to maintain both regular supply lines and secure buyers, and they respond to these requirements by constantly devising, testing, and revising behavioral strategies which minimize such inherent market risks. Evidence suggests that different types of middlemen have access to different types of strategies : middlemen with abundant resources enjoy definite advantages over their less fortunate counterparts. These comparative advantages can result in greater financial reward and ultimately in a larger share of the market. Vegetable farmers also face risks in a market characterized by extreme price variation and poor local infrastructure. They also confront this instability through the elaboration of behavioral strategies which often involve a loss of relative bargaining power with middlemen. A comparison of producers from two separate municipics of the region reveals the importance of improving information flow to farmers. It is critical that farmers increase their marketing skills. This dissertation employs both standard economic price analyses as well as traditional anthropological methods to account for middleman and farmer market behavior. A model of market dynamics outlines the process middleman response to new opportunities in the socio-economic environment, and generates hypotheses regarding the long-range effects of increased market activity within a capitalist framework. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of market system performance, defined not only in terms of the efficient allocation of resources, but also with regard to distributional outcomes of market trends. The trade-off between market growth and distributional equity is considered with respect to the specific characteristics of the Ibiapaba region.

Mots clés : Vegetables — Brazil — Sierra da Ibiapaba — Marketing. ; Peasants — Brazil. ; Brazil — Rural conditions.

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