Indigenous Livelihoods

Overview

Our indigenous livelihoods programme in the Ene River valley region of the central Peruvian Amazon supports Asháninka families to generate sustainable incomes through the production of environmentally friendly cacao.

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The issue

RFUK has worked in the Ene River valley in the central Peruvian Amazon since the 1990s, where we supported the Asháninka to title and protect their ancestral lands. We then supported their efforts to define, in practical terms, what Kametsa Asaike ("the good life”) means for them. After thorough consultation, the Asháninka set an agenda that still guides their collective actions and that is the basis for our work with them. One of their main priorities is having livelihood activities that are compatible with their culture and the need to protect the forest for future generations.

Cocoa production provided such an opportunity for Asháninka families. In 2010, they founded an indigenous cooperative, Kemito Ene, which transformed their production and that now has hundreds of members and sells their cocoa to international markets under organic and fair-trade labels.  Kemito Ene evolved from a modest initiative to a producers' association which has been recognised with the UN Equator Prize in recognition of its "outstanding community effort to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity".

 

What we're doing

  • We support the Asháninka to improve the quality and productivity of their cacao and also Kemito Ene to strengthen as an indigenous cooperative, renewing its business plan and value proposition as well as diversifying its commercial partners.
  • Alongside the representative indigenous organisation CARE, we are supporting the Asháninka to embed this production into broader plans they have for their forests, as well as to protect these lands from encroachment and illegal activity using our ForestLink forest monitoring system.
  • Now, our focus is to continue progressing on cocoa quality following an agroforestry approach, which will protect and expand forest cover, diversify incomes and food sources, and increase carbon stocks.
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Our impacts

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Over 200 families supported

More than 4,000 more people benefitting from better market access and peer to peer learning.

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8000% Increase in Cocoa production

Increased cacao production from 1.4 tonnes in 2009 to more than 120 tonnes in 2021, improving the quality of the product.

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300,000 hectares of Forest protected

Two land use plans developed covering 40,000 hectares and improved forest management over an area of nearly 300,000 hectares.

"We’re working to improve the productivity of our cocoa plots and to grow cocoa and coffee in harmony with the forest… I feel proud because I’m supporting the well-being of Kemito Ene members, their families and the Asháninka communities of the Ene river."

Claudio Vasquez, President, Kemito Ene Cocoa Cooperative

"RFUK has been a key and strategic ally for Kemito Ene, having supported the production of organic cocoa and coffee by Asháninka farmers and promoting the design and planning of the international market access strategy for the Asháninka cacao, something that was beyond the expectation of the Asháninka producers some years ago."

Pedro Antezana, Manager, Kemito Ene Cocoa Cooperative

"We growers like Kemito Ene because it is buying cocoa and is paying more than local intermediaries. Our local indigenous organisation has taught me to control the plant diseases. I have four children. Three are now in school thanks to the income from our cocoa. (Photo: Salomon's family)"

Salomon Perez, cocoa grower, Pamakiari

Featured publications

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Peru: RFUK’s Programme in the Andean Amazon