Community Action
Growing health and wealth in the Amazon

One of our local entrepreneurs explains how she is improving her family’s livelihood and living standards through growing organic vegetables.

  An important part of our conservation work here in the remote Manu Biosphere Reserve of the Peruvian Amazon is working with the local community of Salvación, the capital of the Manu Province.   A few years ago, a group of women came to us for advice, as they were worried about the health of their malnourished children. This was the day that our biogarden initiative was born.  

Esmeralda can now provide a balanced diet for her children thanks to her biogarden and she hopes to soon turn it into a business, with the support of the Crees Foundation. Photo: Bethan John

The people from the town are originally from the Andes and moved to the Amazon to take advantage of the cheap land and to extract the forests’ natural resources – such as gold, oil and timber.

 

Communities here are impoverished and there is a lack of basic amenities like fresh food, medical clinics and access to higher education.

 

Our aim is to help local people create a long-term sustainable income, increase the health and wealth of their families, reduce the impact of deforestation, waste and carbon emissions, while also providing environmental education.

 

Our biogarden project is just one of our initiatives and since 2010 it has had 150 beneficiaries, about 15% of the population.

 

Meet the Entrepreneurs

 

 

Esmeralda Paja Pacori is one of our Productive Entrepreneurs and has a flourishing biogarden that has helped improved the health of her children. She said:

 

“At the moment, all the vegetables eaten by the community come from Cusco and everything is grown using chemicals, so it’s not fresh or natural. Now that I have a biogarden my family is healthier and has a balanced diet.”

 

Esmeralda explained how the nutrition of her children is much better since they started growing their own vegetables.

 

“Before, sometimes we didn’t have enough money to buy vegetables. Things have improved a lot because my son was malnourished and now all of my children can eat vegetables.”
Life for women in the community can be hard, as they struggle to provide for their children.

 

“I’m looking for a job of my own to support my family because my husband is ill”, explained Esmeralda. “In my community I know that there are many women in the same situation with many problems and sometimes you feel incapable to look for work. This is why I’m trying to use these initiatives to create my own job.”

 

Esmeralda hopes to be able to sell her produce so that she can not only improve the health of her family and save money by not being reliant on expensive imported vegetables, but also to increase their income.

 

This is the next stage of the biogarden initiative and we’re providing workshops to help the productive entrepreneurs to increase their knowledge and capacity. Esmeralda explained why the support of Crees has been helpful to her:

 

“For me, it’s very important because it motivates me to value the earth and the plants. In the garden, we are always being reminded why it is important to plant naturally. Things like the workshops are also very important, I value them a lot.”

 

This year, we’re running a series of workshops that will help the entrepreneurs sell their produce so that they can begin transforming their biogardens into businesses.

 

The aim is to create a sense of community between the productive entrepreneurs so that they support each other and run the project as a cooperative.

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