Preservation of Macambo (Theobroma bicolor) creating decent income for the vulnerable populations of the Peruvian Amazon
Project Executive Summary
In the Peruvian Amazon there are vulnerable populations with limited opportunities to generate income, which makes the region prone to unsustainable activities, such as livestock, monoculture farming, mining and illegal logging. That is why there are high rates of deforestation and rural poverty, which put the Amazonian biodiversity under pressure. Deforestation in the Amazonian region of San Martín, Peru is 43% average (and there are districts that are deforested up to 90%). 20% of all deforestation in Peru takes place in San Martín. Rural poverty in the Peruvian Amazon is 40% on average, in the San Martin region 46% of the population is vulnerable to poverty and 26% live in total poverty (MIDIS – PERU 2019).
One of the victims of the current situation is the Macambo (Theobroma bicolor), a native species, which has been marginalized due to the under-utilization of its fruit and the destruction of its natural habitat, mainly replacing it with the mono plantations of cocoa and coffee. The project creates an added value for the Macambo, guaranteeing its preservation and regeneration.
The project is developed in the Amazonian region of San Martín, Peru, and addresses the problem of an abandoned native Amazonian species, disdained due to the worldwide fame of its ´genetic cousin´ the cocoa tree, threatened by imminent logging in order to expand crops with economic value. It also addresses the vulnerable situation of Amazonian women due to the lack of job opportunities and their consequent economic dependence on men in the midst of a highly macho society. By transforming the Macambo into the new Amazonian superfood, employment, income and improvements are generated along the entire value chain: cessation of logging of the native forest; development and propagation of new seedlings and nurseries managed by the native communities associated to the project; new sowings within a syntrophic agroforestry model; the recollection and purchase at a fair price (higher market price) of the fruits; empowerment of women in the nursery, recollection and processing phase, based on their own productivity, thus motivating and strengthening their economic position; so that in this way: Macambo tree and women can prosper.
Macambo is rich in nutrients (23% vegetable protein, 32% fiber, 14% Omega 9, antioxidants and essential minerals). It is a nutraceutical product, valued by the Peruvian market and with a growing international demand in an increasingly demanding market in finding exotic products with high nutritional value (FreshBusiness (2018): Smart Foods: Creating value with Peruvian biodiversity: Food Trends).
In San Martin we have developed a pilot project with a nursery, experimental plantation (4.5 hectares), recollection network in native communities, women’s association, experimental processing plant, product development and marketing system aimed at the haute cuisine, fine chocolate and super food industries, suitable for expansion in other regions where the species exists naturally.
In summary, the Majambo Divine project is an initiative in the Peruvian Amazon that creates a synergy between the Macambo and the vulnerable populations. Revaluing the Macambo as part of the native biodiversity of the Peruvian jungle, we promote its regeneration by promoting sustainable reforestation under the principles of syntrophic agroforestry. With the processing of its fruits, we empower women and small rural suppliers of the Quechua Lamista ethnic group, generating decent employment and income that exceeds the gender wage gap and the conventional market prices (fair trade), improving the quality of life of the beneficiaries.
Project Impact (Texto en Español abajo)
Summary of impact statistics 2019
Employment: 13 jobs for vulnerable indigenous women
Suppliers: +60 indigenous micro suppliers
Total direct beneficiaries: +340 people
Wages: + 100% above the traditional wage gap for women in the region.
Fair trade: + 260% above the market paid for women's raw material and salary
Supplier network: +18 Native communities in the province of Lamas, San Martín, Peru
Total indirect beneficiaries: +5000 people
Reforestation and biodiversity recovery: +3000 seedlings of Macambo planted
Impacted area: + 125 hectares in and around the Regional Conservation Area ¨Cordillera Escalera¨
During the 2019 harvest campaign, the project offered employment to 13 indigenous women, worked with + 60 individual suppliers from +18 native communities (ethnicity: Quechua-Lamista) in and around a Regional Conservation Area ¨Cordillera Escalera¨ in San Martín Peru. In 2019, the project benefited +340 direct and +5000 indirect beneficiaries, +125 hectares of Amazonian forest and + 3000 Macambo seedlings were planted to regenerate the species in the province of Lamas, San Martín, Peru.
In addition, the Project has received several national and international awards and recognitions; it was twice ranked in the TOP 500 of the Latin America Green 2019 Awards, Guayaguil, Ecuador (in # 73 and # 289 positions between +2800 applicants) and the main product of the Majambo Divine Project, our Macambo RAW ( activated and dehydrated Macambo beans) was voted the Most Innovative Product 2019 at the Expo Alimentaria 2019, Lima, Peru, the largest exhibition of the food industry in Latin America.
For the 2020 harvest season we anticipate doubling our workforce and our network of suppliers; Anticipated statistics for 2020: +20 jobs for indigenous women, +120 individual providers, +40 native communities, +700 direct beneficiaries and +12,000 indirect beneficiaries.
Possible long-term objectives of the Project
Prove the viability of an alternative agricultural model for the Peruvian Amazon
Replace the damaging agricultural paradigm of the endless slash and burn cycle, which is destroying the Amazon forest hectare per hectare, with an innovative agroforestry model. The principles of syntrophic agroforestry promote productive reforestation, creating edible and sustainable forests that work in harmony with the natural energy of the jungle.
Social and economic inclusion for vulnerable populations of the Peruvian Amazon
The project creates job opportunities for vulnerable indigenous women in a region with limited job opportunities amid a macho society. In addition, the project creates alternative and sustainable income streams based on various biodiversity resources of the Amazon rainforest, showing native people that the forest has more value standing tall than logged, so that they take their rightful place as guardians of the Amazon.
Improvement of the living conditions of the beneficiaries of the project
Of the women who participated in the first two recollection campaigns (2018-19), several were able to buy domestic appliances for the first time in their lives, several were able to buy their own plot of land, build a new or improve their home, gain access to the financial system , get first first personal loans, have access to education and training. As the project grows, we hope these early success stories will multiply amongst project collaborators (both workers and suppliers).
Evaluation of Amazonian biodiversity and indigenous ancestral knowledge
The Amazonian rainforest has much to offer and much more to discover. The revaluation of the fruit of Macambo is just one of the many native wild species that are waiting to be used for the good of humanity. Working with indigenous communities to convert their ancestral knowledge into modern products is a perfect way to encourage the sustainable management of natural resources in them, while stimulating a sense of self-worth in the indigenous participants by involving their ancestral knowledge in the process of product development.
Macambo (Theobroma Bicolor) species recovery / regeneration
The Macambo has suffered many years of neglect and lost a lot of natural habitat due to the global rise of cocoa and coffee. Monocrop plantations increasingly replace its natural habitat. The added value created with our Macambo products is shared throughout the supply and value chain, encouraging small Amazonian farmers to protect the stock of existing trees and plant new trees, regenerating the species. Being a wild and very rustic species, it requires virtually no maintenance, the extractive system is extremely attractive for the communities belonging to the project, with minimal investment, they can generate attractive income without damaging the forest.