Conservation of biodiversity, promotion of sustainable agriculture practices and ancestral knowledge in the Ecuadorian Amazon
The Napo Province, located in the northwest of the Ecuadorian Amazon region, has high poverty rates with 77% of the population living in conditions of poverty and, among them, 43% living in extreme poverty. 66% of the inhabitants are living in rural areas and the population’s main economic activity is agriculture.
The Kichwa families, who represent 54% of the population of the Province, are mainly engaged in agriculture under the traditional production system called ‘chakra’. The main chakra products include cassava, bananas, cocoa, guayusa, chonta (palm) and fruit trees. Forest species and plants for medicinal or artisanal use are also cultivated. However many chakra products have no market connection and have been affected by monoculture which has led to an increase in planting areas, causing pressure on protected natural areas and forests such as the Sumaco Biosphere Reserve (located in the target area).
To address this situation, this project, managed by FECD, aims to preserve the Amazonian cultural and productive practices which are contributing to the food security, economic viability, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the Kichwa communities of the Province. Among the activities planned, the project will:
- Promote the maintenance of traditional agroforestry systems (chakra) and forest plantations by supporting incentive policies and strategies to recover degraded or intervened areas;
- Strengthen market links for sustainable goods and services produced in the agricultural and tourist value chains related to chakras, as well as providing producers access to niche markets with premium prices that recognize the chakra ecosystem services;
- Strengthen capacities of community decision-makers to manage and administer natural resources;
- Promote intergenerational learning, conservation and reproduction of ancestral knowledge, to implement agro-ecological and tourism practices with a cultural focus;
- Improve the quality of agricultural and tourist community-sector products, services and sustainable processes to secure local or international certifications that position and differentiate them on the market;
- Recognize, demonstrate and value ecosystem services provided by the chakra system and quantify their contribution to maintaining/increasing priority ecosystem services (conserving the Kichwa culture, food security, resilience to climate change, climate regulation, scenic beauty, income generation);
- Promote the establishment and expansion of sustainable agricultural and tourism production systems that contribute to conservation and proper use of natural resources.
By the end of the project, it is expected, among other results, that at least 400 people will be strengthened on implementing good manufacturing, agricultural and tourism practices, using basic business tools and organizational management, with a cultural and gender approach and that at least 50 local entities will have obtained the quality certification standard for the Ancestral Cocoa Route seal (a trademark promoting high quality-services and products in the tourism sector).
The production of agro-ecological food under the chakra-Kichwa model, that embraces environmental, social and economic criteria related to gender equality, is also expected to be recognized through a Chakra seal. The cocoa planting areas are expected to increase by 20% under the traditional chakra system, conserving ecosystem services, food security and cultural values of the Amazonian Kichwa people. By the end of the project, 3 agro-forestry nurseries will also be set up to provide seeds native to the Napo Province and at least 100 ha will be reforested through local incentive models.