Poqomam - Economy



The local economy of the Poqomam rests on the tripartite foundation of milpa, charcoal making, and pottery production. Milpa, or plot agriculture furnishes much of a family's subsistence needs. The staple crops are maize and beans. Milpa plots average about 0.08 hectares in size and are cultivated using traditional implements such as machetes, hoes, and digging sticks. Ideally, farmers hope to raise a surplus of maize, which they can then sell for cash; however, this goal is rarely realized.

For this reason, during the part of the year when there is no agricultural work, many men produce charcoal to sell in the markets in Guatemala City. To produce charcoal, oak is purchased, or cut from one's own groves, and then burned in a covered pit in the ground. For three days, the men control the heat in the pit, making sure not to completely burn the wood. At the end of the three days, the wood is uncovered and bundled together to take to market.

Thus, men's work consists largely of agricultural and heavy-labor jobs. Women's work consists of household work such as cooking, maintaining a garden, and washing clothing. To help supplement family income, many women sell the pottery they produce. The most common product is the tinaja (water jar). These are made by building a vessel out of thick coils of clay. After the pottery dries, it is polished and then fired.


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