The Amazon Basin
is perhaps the largest and best known region of tropical
rainforest in the world, spreading across Brazil,
Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia. The
forest is a place of global importance and home to
a wide variety of natural resources.
Many people living in the Amazon
Basin are poor. They rely on the forest for alternatives
to timber. Non-timber Forest Products (NTFPs) such
as nuts, fruits, oils and resins provide income but
have traditionally been harvested using unsustainable
methods. The ability to market these Amazonian products
successfully, taking into account consumer preferences
for sustainable production, can make a big difference
in improving the livelihoods of rural communities.
Bolsa Amazonia is a regional
programme for the Amazon Basin countries, dedicated
to sustainable development of the region's communities
and conservation of the natural resources. Created
in 1998 in partnership with BIOTRADE, it is an initiative
of the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development
(UNCTAD) and POEMA, the Brazilian programme on poverty
and environment in the Amazon Basin.
Bolsa Amazonia Projects
of the Bolsa Amazonia programme is to promote sustainable
use of Amazonian natural resources, while reducing
poverty among indigenous people. Products are promoted
that give producers and processors improved incomes,
and consumers get a product that is guaranteed environmentally
is currently active in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and
Bolivia and is expanding to Peru and Venezuela. Bolsa
Amazonia has established close links with communities,
the private sector and governments through partnerships
that foster community development and ecological conservation
in the region.
The programme works with forest communities in production
right through to the marketing of products. This includes
improved methods of cultivation and production, small-scale
processing, capacity building, training, provision
of technical and marketing information, and the identification
of suitable markets.
Training is provided
• Marketing, including
business planning, costing, packaging and forecasting
• Processing fish, banana and dairy products,
including hygiene and safety
• Organisation and management, including co-operatives,
administration and accounting
• Sustainable resource use - sustainable agriculture,
subsistence cropping, seed production, and cultivation
and collection of forest products.
The Bolsa Amazonia programme builds linkages between
small-scale producers and buyers of Amazonian products
that would otherwise be very difficult. Without these
linkages, processors have nowhere to market their
products, consumers are unaware of goods that are
available and product harvesting remains unsustainable.
Amazonian products are marketed under the fair trade,
organic and natural banners to meet consumer demand.
To reach these markets, strict production and processing
guidelines are followed and commercial promotion is
necessary. Bolsa Amazonia organises marketing training
for processors and helps to advertise and promote
A marketing information
system database known as SIMBA has been developed
to represent producers, processors and national and
international businesses interested in Amazon products.
The 'supply and demand' database informs buyers about
who is producing what, and where, and is a starting
point for companies who are interested in doing business.
Approximately 350 products, 100 buyers and 100 producers
are registered on the SIMBA database.
Many different products are registered on the database,
divided into categories:
• raw materials,
including fruits and seeds
• natural medicines
• coconut fibre products
• processed foods, including fruit pulps, fruit
juice, flour and honey.
Star products are guaranteed by Bolsa Amazonia to
have the capacity to meet demands in accordance with
the principles of ecological and sustainable development.
They are produced to the standards of hygiene required
by the market. They are promoted at national and international
fairs and all profits from sales have been brought
back to the producers' associations.
The açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea) is
found throughout the Amazon Region and grows naturally
in flooded areas of the várzea forests and
igapós, or in higher terrain when cultivated.
It occurs throughout the entire Brazilian Amazon,
with major production taking place in the State of
Pará where concentrations of species are greatest.
The açaí palm grows in native plantations
and was under threat due to the extent of palm-heart
consumption (when the whole tree is cut to collect
its heart). The palm can be used in a sustainable
way through the management of the açaizais
or açaí ecosystem. Traditionally açaí
was collected and sold as fresh fruit in local markets,
but this brought low economic returns. The sale of
fruit pulp in the form of a naturally nutritious drink
has made it a more profitable enterprise.
Seventeen Brazilian communities formed a producers
association to organise their production and became
the owners of a modern processing plant where the
Açaí Poema da Amazonia beverage is produced.
The açaí beverage provides energy, around
182.4 cal/100g. It also has high levels of calcium
and phosphorus, which makes açaí extremely
Farinha de Banana is banana flour made up of dehydrated
green bananas. It is ground for preparing porridge,
milkshakes, cakes, pancakes, cookies, etc. for lunches
in schools, hospitals, restaurants or snack bars.
The dehydration process used to make banana flour
involves: washing fruit; immersing it in a heated
tank; removing skins; slicing bananas; drying them
on trays; grinding into powder, weighing and packaging.
Banana flour is sustainably produced using agro-forestry
systems that combine crops in the same areas, enabling
the recovery of degraded land through reforestation
and soil protection.
The commercialisation of Banana Flour Poema da Amazônia
contributes to the improvement of the livelihoods
of rural communities. More than 16 communities are
involved in the cultivation and processing of the
fruit in six different food-processing plants. The
production of banana flour reduces post-harvesting
losses of fresh bananas and is made into a value-added
product with better returns for producers.
Traditionally, coconut husks were burned or discarded.
Their reuse has helped to show how the sustainable
use of forest resources can preserve the Amazon while
providing numerous sources of income. Coconut fibre
and latex (produced from rubber trees) products are
biodegradable and can be recycled. In Brazil, rubber
tappers have been recognised for their struggle to
preserve the Amazon by ensuring that rubber extraction
is a sustainable activity.
Coconut fibre and latex pots are both recyclable and
biodegradable. Substituting xaxim (an orchid, specifically
the giant samambaia) for coconut fibre contributes
towards the preservation of the giant samambaia, an
endangered plant species.
The pots are aerated to allow the plant to grow, with
high water retention. They contain nutrients for the
roots of the plant and can be successfully replanted
without removing the plant from the pot.
The extraction and processing
of the coconut fibre involves more than 5,000 families
from the Island of Marajo and north-eastern Pará.
Organised within producer associations and seven agro-industries,
they sell the products directly to Poematec Industry,
a partnership between POEMA and the motor company,
DaimlerChrysler. The commercialisation of gardening
products provides a source of income for communities
and an incentive to use recyclable and alternative
materials. The demand for latex as a raw material
for various industrial applications has given a new
impetus to the production of latex.
The consumption of paper
is one of the causes of global deforestation. The
Amazon Paper project illustrates the possibility of
finding non-wood alternatives while promoting uses
for non-timber forest products such as fibres, particularly
as a means of substituting synthetic products.
Amazon Paper brings together ancestral oriental art
and traditional Amazonian knowledge to produce a hand-made
paper that is entirely made from natural resources
- fibres, dyes, fragrances, leaves and flowers. The
main fibre from which the pulp is extracted is curauá.
It is mixed with other materials to obtain a wide
array of papers in a range of colours, textures, and
The cultivation of the curauá (Ananas erectifolius)
plant, and the extraction and paper-making processes
involve many communities as common production units.
Paper production, from cultivation to the final product,
is performed in a sustainable manner, and income generated
from the sale of the fibre and other food crops benefits
local families to improve their income and quality
Biodiversity and Poverty
Rural communities are the beneficiaries of the Bolsa
Amazonia programme; traditional forest dwellers, subsistence
farmers, and 'riberinhos' (people living on the riverbanks).
Amazon basin countries are home to the poorest and
most vulnerable fringes of the population. Often they
lack the most basic services such as healthcare, water,
sanitation and education. These communities live in
isolated family units in remote locations, relying
on agro-extraction and fishing for survival.
The foundation of Bolsa Amazonia is based on understanding
the links between biodiversity conservation and poverty
reduction. Conservation of tropical forest is encouraged
through a combination of agro-forestry systems, natural
resource management and the development of sustainable
productive chains. Forest people's livelihoods have
improved through the development of economic activities
that generate income by adding value to products.
Local employment has increased, producers are being
integrated into larger production chains and trade
is increasingly on an equitable basis.
The project contributes to improved food security
as agro-forestry encourages crop diversification.
Some crops are used for home consumption, some are
processed and others are sold. Income generated through
these means has been re-invested in local housing,
electrical appliances and other amenities.
Uniting local knowledge of the forest, simple management
techniques and appropriate technologies to regenerate
degraded areas, further destruction of forest is avoided.
Making information available and accessible is also
crucial. The SIMBA database brings together producers,
processors and buyers so they can interact within
a virtual marketplace.
The creation of close working partnerships among public
institutions, non-governmental organisations and private
enterprises has been fundamental to the success of
the Bolsa Amazonia programme. It is effective in influencing
public policies, presenting new models for credit
and investment programmes and providing opportunities
for foreign direct investment in sustainable development
Bolsa Amazonia believes in lobbying and advocacy efforts,
to use trade as a means of promoting sustainable development.
Trade in biological resources and other environmental
services and products has brought awareness to major
economic players who are becoming more socially and
For further information, please
Dr. Maria de Nazaré Imbiriba
General Secretary of the Bolsa Amazonia
Casa do POEMA
Universidade Federal do Pará
Belém, Pará Brazil
Tel. +55 91 211 1686/91 259 3423
Fax +55 91 259 3423
of Pará - Professional Sector, House of POEMA
Caixa Postal 8606
Tel. +55 91 259 3423/211 1686
Fax +55 91 259 3423/211 1687
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Websites
The FAO's Non-Wood
Forest Products (NWFP) website has information on
every aspect of NWFP, from activities, publications
(some listed below), country information and links
to other sites of interest.
Income generation from non-wood forest products in
US$11, FAO Conservation Guides, ISBN: 9251038465
Marketing information systems for non-timber forest
US$14, FAO (2000), Part of Community Forestry Field
Marketing information systems for non-timber forest
products Part of Community Forestry Field Manual Series
US$14, FAO, 2000
This book can be purchased from FAO or EarthPrint
Marketing in forestry and agroforestry by rural people
Free FAO Job#: W6667, 1996
UCN - World Conservation Union Books
Economic Value of Non-Timber Forest Products in Southeast
Asia Second edition, Jenne H. de Beer and Melanie
ISBN 90 75909 01 2, 1996
Non-timber Forest Products: Value, use and management
issues in Africa, including examples from Latin America,
Edited by S. A. Crafter, J. Awimbo and A. J. Broekhoven
ISBN 2 8317 0317 4, 1997
Based on a pan-African workshop that was held in Naro
Moru, Kenya, on 8-13 May 1994, to analyse the viability
of extraction of NTFPs in Africa and improve knowledge
and understanding of the role and potential of NTFPs
in forest conservation. It gives a synthesis of workshop
discussions, and also includes country overviews of
NTFP use from 15 countries.
Non-Timber Forest Products from the Tropical Forests
of Africa: A bibliography, Compiled by Harry van der
Linde and Esther van Adrichem, ISBN 90 75909 03 9,
Provides an overview of available literature on non-timber
forest products in the tropical forests of Africa
which include the tropical lowland forests, swamp
forests, montane forests and mangroves of West, Central
and East Africa and Madagascar.
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100
Website: www.fao.org/catalog/giphome.htm IUCN
TVE/ITDG gratefully acknowledge support for the HANDS
ON programmes from the UK's Department for International
Development (DFID), the European Commission (EC),
the UN Foundation and UNDP/The Equator Initiative
in collaboration with the Government of Canada, IDRC,
IUCN, BrasilConnects and the Nature Conservancy.