For generations, residents have used the incredible variety of wood available from the surrounding forests for building and developing small handicrafts. Residents harvest the wood in a sustainable manner to make simple bowls, figures, and pieces of furniture.
Honey from the Amazon has an amazingly complex flavor due to the diverse pollens in the surrounding forest. Although the honey produced in the forest is much tastier than the clover honey produced commercially and imported from the country's southern region, producers of Amazonian honey still have a hard time competing. In order to compete successfully, Amazonian honey producers are working to scale production and improve quality standards.
Women from the communities where CEN works have been producing baskets made from local leaves and fibers since settling in the region generations ago. Basket weaving, an activity easily stopped and started, is well suited to the lifestyle of women in the region, as they are frequently interrupted by the demands of motherhood and their families. However, due to the sheer number of weavers and volume of baskets produced, most find it difficult to make a livable wage. In order to generate more income from basket production, weavers must improve basket quality, penetrate national and international markets, and learn to adapt their designs to the tastes of those new markets.
The forest yields a variety of fruits, which are highly prized by regional,national, and international markets. Each season, community members gather a large supply of fruit and preserve it in a variety of ways. About five years ago, a German foundation financed the construction of a kitchen for the community of Suruacá's women's group to create fruit preserves and candies. Although the women were taught how to produce these preserves, they have been unable to identity suitable markets for their products.
As is evident from the list above, residents in the community face many obstacles to developing, producing, and commercializing their products. During the pilot to CEN's Phase 2, we will focus our efforts where they can have the most impact in the short term. During the implementation process, we'll identify and develop recommended solutions to the deeper problems we intend to address as resources become available.