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Best Practices voor een duurzame toekomst
22 oktober 2005

Unique tropical forest products find their way to the European market

Early 2004, Hivos (Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries) asked the Dutch consultancy CREM to research the market chances for some promising non-timber forest products from Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, and to make an inventory of the legal requirements. It appeared that both food and cosmetics companies in Europe were interested in these new, organic products like Brazil nuts, camu camu, cupuazú, ungurahui, and asaì. For Hivos, the marketing study delivered new directions to assist its local partners in professionalising the whole production chain. Rogier Eijkens, programme officer for sustainable economic development: "We want to connect small producers with local companies who can process their nuts and fruits, in such a way that they comply with European standards. Then we connect these companies with European firms. And of course, since our goal is poverty reduction, we aim for a better price for the producers and small farmers or gatherers." One of the promising products is the oil of the ungurahui palm tree, growing in the Amazone-region of Peru. It is a valuable ingredient for the cosmetics industry, and has attracted the attention of a French trading company. The partner organisation of Hivos in Peru, Conservation International, assists both farmers and a local processing company in production methods that meet European standards and are worthy of earning the title 'organic' or 'fair trade'. In practice this means that the farmers who grow the palms are educated in treating their crops. Farmers are made aware of the advantages of harvesting the fruit without cutting the tree. And the processing company learns how to purify the oil before exporting it. Another product from the forest is cupuazú, a fruit that grows on shrubs, and has an exotic taste that could very well be used in fruit drinks. Some European firms have expressed their interest in importing the fruit, produced in the North of Bolivia. Rogier Eijkens: "We support a Bolivian ngo, that is exploring the market for cupuazú and we are helping to link them with companies in Europe." P+ Webtip: CREM