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Abstract

The main farming systems of the Texizapan watershed in southern Veracruz, Mexico (200-1,640 meters above sea level) were characterized through a formal survey in 1995. Farm-level data included an inventory resources (human, land,and capital), their use, and resource flows (both intra-and inter-household). Field-level data particularly on input use and production, were gathered for the two major crops, maize and coffee. Maize was the main food crop, grown by all households. Coffee was the main cash crop, but production was limited to higher elevations. The maize cropping system was relatively land extensive and labor intensive;all practices were entirely manual. External input was relatively limited, emphasizing herbicides. Half the farmers reported using fertilizers, but levels were generally low and the use of improved maize varieties rare. All farmers used burning as a land preparation practice prior to maize planting. Maize yields in the main season averaged less than 1 t/ha. Maize production in the minor season was more widespread than previously thought, although yields were extremely low. Given the low yields, high labor input, and limited external input use, returns to maize cultivation were low. Even so, maize cultivation was expected to continue in the study area, in view of the households' consumption needs and limited alternative income opportunities. Half the sample reported being net consumers f maize, and the need to purchase beans- the major protein source- was even more widespread. In view of the limited number of other food sources available locally and constraints on disposable income, the nutritional status of the households warrants closer attention. The major challenge facing producers was that of sustainably raising productivity to provide for consumption and other needs.

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