Community-run trading posts help Amazon forest people reverse rural exodus

first_imgRiverine communities along the Xingu River basin in the Brazilian state of Pará are running their own trading posts that are significantly boosting the income of their members.By eliminating middlemen, the community-run posts are paying families up to twice as much for their Brazil nuts, rubber and other products collected in the forest.By buying in bulk, the posts are also able to sell essential household goods, such as salt, coffee, soap and boots, more cheaply to their members.These improvements mean that it is now economically viable for the families to go on living sustainably in the forest, and the rural exodus is being reversed. “We used to go into the forest to tap copaiba oil but we had no good way of selling it. The regatão [traveling river trader] paid us whatever he liked and took ages to give us the money. How could we survive like that?” asks Pedro Pereira de Castro, who lives in the Riozinho do Anfrísio Extractive Reserve, located within the Xingu River basin in the Brazilian Amazon.Today this has changed for the better. Pedro Pereira now manages the Paulo Afonso cantina, a trading post inside the reserve. Cantinas were previously controlled by the river traders, but today it is the community that runs them. Local families deliver their production of Brazil nuts, rubber and oils to the cantinas, in exchange for cash or essential household goods, such as soap, salt, coffee and boots.By running the cantinas themselves, these traditional Amazonian communities have eliminated the middlemen and greatly increased their incomes. It’s now possible for them and their children to stay in the forest, maintaining their traditional way of life, while receiving a decent income. No longer are they fleeing to Brazil’s urban areas to try and find work.Pedro Pereira de Castro runs the Paulo Afonso cantina, a trading post, in the Riozinho do Anfrísio Extractive Reserve. Image by Lilo Clareto.Derisvaldo Moreira lives in a land settlement project near Uruará, a town on the Transamazon highway. His community also collects forest products, but sells them to middlemen. He told Mongabay he was amazed at the higher prices the community-run cantinas in Riozinho do Anfrísio pay: “I got two reais a box for my Brazil nuts this year,” or about 50 U.S. cents. “The cantinas paid five.”Today there are 22 community-run cantinas in the region known as the Terra do Meio, the land that lies between the Xingu and Tapajós rivers. Eight are in indigenous territories and run by . The remaining 14 are in extractive reserves, or Resex, which were created in response to demands from traditional populations for a new kind of conservation unit that protected both the forest and their way of life. These are areas where the inhabitants have the right to practice traditional extractivism — hunting, fishing and gathering — as well as subsistence agriculture.The community association representing the 22 cantinas negotiates contracts with private companies and state bodies. It has secured long-term contracts with Swiss-based fragrance and flavor manufacturer Firmenich; Mercur, a Brazilian company promoting innovations; and Brazilian food manufacturer Wickbold. It also sells its products to the municipal governments of Altamira and Vitória do Xingu, and to a Brazilian cosmetics company, Atina, and is in advanced negotiations with the large Brazilian supermarket group Pão de Açúcar and a British cosmetics company, Lush.Together, the cantinas have a working capital of 530,000 reais ($134,000). Their Brazil nut sales from the last harvest alone brought in 1.5 million reais ($381,000).The families carry out simple processing tasks in the forest or at home, and more complex procedures in mini-plants that can be adapted for a variety of tasks. For instance, the same press used to crack Brazil nuts and cacao pods can also be used to extract oil from the andiroba almond or the babassu palm fruit, among other products.Processing babassu oil in the village of Potikro in the Trincheira-Bacajá Indigenous Territory, home to Xikrin Indians. Image by Leonardo de Moura.These new community-run cantinas have a democratic structure. The manager, chosen by the community, is in charge of financial administration and pays the families for their products, either in cash or goods, with prices fixed by the community.It’s a marked difference from previously, when the families were heavily exploited by the river traders. The new structure came about after they sought help from partners like the Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA) and the civil nonprofit Institute of Agricultural and Forest Management and Certification (IMAFLORA) to develop an alternative marketing network. They were seeking fair prices and long-term contracts that respected the way the communities functioned, and in tune with their seasonal rhythms.“The creation of a network of community cantinas and mini factories scattered across the region has driven the process by which beiradeiros [riverine families] and indigenous communities have become protagonists in the building of productive systems and the management of the territory as a whole,” Marcelo Salazar, office coordinator of the ISA in Altamira and one of the people who helped set up the network, told Mongabay.The network has helped to stem the rural exodus and reinvigorate extractivism. For instance, more than 150 long-abandoned pathways cut through the forest by rubber tappers have been reopened. “There were a lot of people who didn’t collect forest products any more, as it’s hard work and they didn’t earn much,” Pedro Pereira de Castro said. “Everyone was giving up and doing other things. But today we earn much more and people are going back to extractivism.”Dona Maria Laur, a beiradeira who manages the São Francisco cantina in the Rio Iriri Extractive Reserve, said the project had had a big impact on young people. “I’m amazed seeing young people breaking Brazil nuts because they were turning their back on the forest, staying at home,” she told Mongabay. “But today they spend all day working with their parents, they don’t want to go to the city.”Even those who left previously, she says, are coming back to the forest, drawn by the money they can earn from Brazil nuts. “If the nuts didn’t bring in money, how could we have got our children to come back and work with us?”The forest has gained prestige among young people, she says. “Something that everyone here will tell you is the change in the way youngsters view the forest. Even though people tell them they can earn good money from ranching, no one wants to fell the forest,” Dona Maria said.Dona Maria Laura in her house, which is also a cantina. The map on the wall behind her shows the locations of the other cantinas in the network. Image by Marcelo Salazar/ISA.It’s not only young people whose lives have been transformed, says Augusto Postigo, an anthropologist who is part of the ISA team working with the cantinas. “The strengthening of extractivism in the reserve has turned into a way of managing the reserve, with the reoccupation of land and the strengthening of rights over historical, traditional territory and the monitoring of protected areas,” he said. “At the same time, initiatives have been taken to improve education and health, because this is required to organize production.”Just as important as the economic benefits is the strengthening of the communities and their culture. “Everything is better because we’re all together,” Raimunda Araujo Rodrigues Nonata, who runs the Rio Novo cantina and coordinates the mini-processing plants, told Mongabay. “We’ve become one big family, with the network of cantinas.”It has become easier for communities to be in touch with each other, she says. “Now we have the extractive reserves, everyone has a radio [to communicate over long distances]. Today everyone is talking to each other and this helps us protect our territory. Everyone is paying attention to what is happening, commenting on the arrival of someone from outside.”These developments are disproving the widely held assertion that the extractivism, practiced by traditional communities occupying the Amazon forest is no longer viable in the modern world. These families have over the centuries acquired an extraordinary wealth of knowledge about the forest. But until recently it was difficult for them to use this knowledge, so valuable to efforts to conserve the forest, to make a decent living.Thanks to the families in the Terra do Meio, this is changing. They are giving the world a lesson in how to generate income sustainably from standing forest.Weighing babassu nuts in the mini factory in Potikro village in the Trincheira-Bacajá Indigenous Territory, home to Xikrin Indians. Image by Leonardo Moura. Agriculture, Amazon Agriculture, Amazon Conservation, Amazon People, Conservation, Conservation Solutions, Culture, Environment, Forests, Green, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Indigenous Culture, Indigenous Cultures, Indigenous Groups, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Rights, Rainforests, Rivers, Saving The Amazon, Social Justice, Threats To The Amazon, Traditional People, Tropical Forests Article published by hayatcenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? 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In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? 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It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. 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