Equifinality in the Smallholder Slot: Cash Crop Development in the Brazilian Amazon and Indonesian Borneo
This article presents a comparative ethnography of the smallholder agroforestry projects of an international environmental organization. Migrant ranchers in Brazil sell cattle from private properties in a heavily-deforested landscape. Indigenous farmers in Indonesia rely on subsistence food production on customary lands in a heavily-forested landscape. Despite these differences, the projects identify both migrant ranchers and indigenous farmers as “smallholders” and prescribe cash crop agroforestry as the solution to both their predicaments. In the face of expanding ranches and plantations, this cash crop solution accepts the destruction of forest ecosystems and livelihoods as inevitable, funneling smallholders into market agroforestry in agro-industrial landscapes. This article strengthens the case for comparative ethnography and challenges discursive conflations and political-economic biases of prevailing sustainable development policies.