Abstract: The commercialisation of native species has some potential to contribute to the reduction of income poverty levels in remote Aboriginal communities in Central Australia. Aboriginal people hold significant knowledge, skill and land resources that if brought together in the commercialisation of one or more species, could contribute to more secure and sustainable livelihoods. Despite this potential, there are also very serious obstacles to Aboriginal people successfully participating at any level of the commercial marketplace, whether as producers, processors or retailers. Remote Aboriginal communities typically lack infrastructure, management skills, and understanding of business, and even given access to appropriate infrastructure, few individuals could be expected to meet the rigorous health and safety regulations that control the food and pharmaceutical industries. In addition, significant elements of Aboriginal knowledge have been placed in the public domain over the past century, so that much of the potential advantage has been nullified or reversed. There is, furthermore, a disconnection between the understandings that Aboriginal people in remote areas hold with regards to many traditional foods and medicines, and the imperatives of successful commercialisation. In this paper, I will reflect on my experiences working in a loose partnership with Aboriginal people to trade two ‘bushfoods’: the ‘bush tomato’ (Solanum centrale), 1 and ‘wattleseed’ (various Acacia species, particularly A victoriae, A colei and A coriacea). I will also explore the structural and cultural nature of poverty in remote Aboriginal settlements, with a view to showing how natural resource commercialisation may contribute to poverty alleviation, and how it may not.
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