Market-Based Conservation and Local Benefits: The Case Of Argan Oil in Morocco
Posted: 28 Oct 2002
Market-based approaches to biodiversity conservation gained popularity in the 1990s. The success of these strategies hinges on, first, the successful creation or expansion of target markets and, second, the beneficial involvement of local stakeholders in these markets so that improved incentives induce conservation. This paper evaluates these two key elements in the case of argan oil commercialization in southwestern Morocco. The principal finding is that even when locals appear well-positioned to reap ex post benefits, one can reject the hypothesis that successful resource commercialization necessarily stimulates local development and reduces poverty. Most locals participate only superficially in the new and expanded markets for argan oil, and the benefits that do trickle down to local households appear to be regressively distributed, both regionally and between households. The key lies in understanding how opening or expanding markets may induce endogenous product differentiation that easily excludes locals, especially the poor, and how ex ante market access - a variable commonly correlated with wealth - conditions households' capacity to participate in market-induced producer windfalls.
Keywords: Resource commercialization, Conservation, Economic development, Bioprospecting
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