Building on the success of the Brazil nut program, ACA is working in Cusco and surrounding regions to identify livelihood alternatives that support biodiversity conservation for local communities. These projects include sustainable agroforestry, textile production, the production of essential oils and natural dyes from other local plants, and the production and marketing of Sacha Inchi (Plukenetia volubilis), the Omega 3, 6 and 9 oil-rich “Incan peanut.” Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s “D-Lab” have been working with community groups to make these alternatives feasible and cost-effective.
Forests in the high Andes are critically important for watershed protection, erosion control, and biodiversity. Outside of Cusco, Peru, we are working with a half dozen communities to plant new trees to provide a new source of income as well as erosion control, animal habitat and more. The communities make the management decisions; we provide the tools, experts, and resources needed to implement them. During 2007, we helped the communities establish eight tree nurseries with a total capacity of 12,000 seedlings.
Sacha Inchi (Plukenetia volubilis), known locally as the Incan peanut, is an Andean vine whose seeds produce a high-quality oil rich in healthy Omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. ACCA works with local farmers to promote Sacha Inchi as a cost-effective, low-impact cash crop for Andean forests. We bring together international experts with local co-ops and companies, such as the MIT’s D-Lab, to develop sustainable techniques to grow, harvest, shell, press, preserve, and market this novel product.
ACCA has trained communities in the Andean highlands around Cusco to plant and harvest native species for use as natural dyes for textiles and for sources of essential oils that can be sold outside of their communities. ACCA has also improved the planting and technical capacity of the communities in collaboration with the Ecological Institute of Medicinal Plants. Local families have since created the Essential Oil Producers Association of Sunchubamba, under the name Vida Natural—Sunchubamba.
Reforestation in Sunchubamba, Peru. Photo: Cesar Moran
Jesse Austin-Breneman of MIT’s D-Lab demonstrates the new Sacha Inchi sheller at the ACCA Cusco office. Photo: Megan MacDowell
Dried Sacha Inchi. Photo: Megan MacDowell
The dyed yarn is woven into a garment. Photo: Cesar Moran
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