Indigenous communities have lived along the banks of the Ucayali River in the Peruvian Amazon for centuries, but climate change, slash-and-burn agriculture, subsistence farming and logging have led to significant deforestation and soil erosion. Mature fruit trees have all but vanished and fish catches have been depleted, leaving many indigenous Amazonians, especially children, malnourished and anemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified these threats, ravaging the health, livelihoods and economies of indigenous communities already on the brink of extinction. With limited or no income, families have been forced to leave their ancestral homeland.
In partnership with the Zayed Sustainability Prize Beyond2020 initiative, the Institute of Food Technologists’ Seeding the Future Foundation and the New England Biolabs Foundation, INMED Andes has established the INMED Aquaponics® Social Enterprise to strengthen food security, climate adaptation and income generation among these endangered communities. The INMED ASE is based on the campus of the Instituto Superior Pedagógico Bilingüe de Yarinacocha, the country’s largest indigenous teacher training institute.
Launched in early 2022, the INMED ASE is providing intensive training in aquaponics to indigenous teachers, researchers, youth, women and other members of the community to increase local capacity and interest in the production and use of healthy food that also protects the environment of native species.
A key component of the initiative is building local markets for the system’s organic products and training indigenous producers to reach these markets. The INMED ASE is also partnering with local universities to encourage research into the use of Amazonian crops and species in aquaponic systems, which will simultaneously boost productivity and protect biodiversity.
With future investments and revenues from the INMED ASE, this initial partnership will serve as a launching pad to expand INMED’s successful model of aquaponic food production model and sustainable livelihoods in which Yarinacocha is the center of a network of physical and virtual training sites and farmer mentors throughout Peru.
For more information about the INMED ASE in Peru, email firstname.lastname@example.org.