Economic Botany

, 56:246 | Cite as

The Palm wine trade in Freetown, Sierra Leone: Production, income, and social construction

  • Aiah R. Lebbie
  • Raymond P. Guries


Palm wine tapped from Elaeis guineensis provides high incomes to certain groups such as Limba tribe members and women while creating social networks among tappers, traders, and retail vendors. Income levels from palm-wine tapping were several-fold higher than the minimum daily wage in Sierra Leone during 1998. Gender differences were particularly important in the marketing of palm wine, with women dominating the retail sector whereas men served as producers and middleman. An estimated 90% of palm wine middlemen are males, whereas kiosk vendors are mostly females. A formalized gift-giving culture has developed to ensure the continuous flow of palm wine from tapper to consumer.

Key Words

palm wine ethnicity NTFP household income social networks 

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY 10458-5126 U.S.A 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aiah R. Lebbie
    • 1
    • 2
  • Raymond P. Guries
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNjala University CollegePMB FreetownSierra Leone
  2. 2.Department of Forest Ecology and ManagementUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Forest Ecology and ManagementUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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