Opportunity to help innovative Bolivia project

15

Jan

TBN Member John Fleetwood is founding Director of the Cochabamba Project and is seeking skills from TBN members & partners to develop the scale and impact of this project on the poor in Bolivia. The project works with over 1000 farmers helping them to manage their plots more sustainably whilst reforesting the area with diverse native hardwoods. The project’s business model increases farmer’s income – sometimes by as much as 3× – and provides an economic incentive to not cause further deforestation.

John is looking for expertise and experience in developing sales channels and/or market access for agriculture and agricultural products to scale up various opportunities with these farmers to increase the impact of the project.

Read more below:

The Cochabamba Project

The Bolivian Amazon has been the scene of widespread deforestation of prime rainforest due to slash and burn farming. The Cochabamba Project was established as a mutual Industrial & Provident society to fund The Arbolivia Project which works with smallholder farmers to improve their agricultural practices and access to market, whilst avoiding further deforestation and reforesting 1400 hectares with native hardwoods. Unlike typical monoculture plantations, many different species of native hardwoods are used, and the model means that profits are shared equally with 750 small farmers, potentially tripling their incomes, whilst generating income for investors from the sale of timber and ecosystem services. The model is more sustainable as it gives the farmers an economic incentive to avoid further deforestation and to use part of their land for reforestation, and represents a pioneering new model of forestry that benefits poor peasant farmers much more than the usual large plantations. The project has been in operation for more than 5 years and has earned the respect of farmers. Over £3 million has been invested to date from around 400 investors, primarily as a combination of shares in the society and loanstock.

What’s needed

The project has built an excellent infrastructure and network of technical advisors who are trusted by the 750 farmers that they work with. There is a waiting list of farmers keen to join the project. However, the cost of running the project is significant and we would like to generate additional revenue streams until the long-term timber income comes through. There is considerable scope for providing additional services to farmers, and in particular, helping them gain access to market for agricultural products at a fair price. We lack expertise in this area and would also benefit from help in developing sales of fairly traded timber and agricultural products within Bolivia. Please contact us if you think you might be able to help.

Get in touch

If you have expertise and experience in developing sales channels and/or market access for agriculture and agricultural products, or just business experience and an interest in Bolivia or this project, please get in touch on [email protected] and we will introduce you to John and the Cochabamba Project.

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