Sustainable Amazon: babassu nut breakers connect companies with environmental conservation
The “babassu nut breakers” are a traditional community in the eastern Amazon, whose livelihood and income depend directly on the sustainable use of natural resources. Their work provides an example of an economic activity based on the conservation of biodiversity, as the social and cultural identity of the nut breakers is directly linked to the region’s ecosystem and native species.
In an article published in academic journal Business Strategy and the Environment, professors José Puppim de Oliveira and Umesh Mukhi of Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Sao Paulo School of Business Administration (FGV EAESP), together with several collaborators, presented a case study about the community organization of babassu nut breakers. The authors’ work involved document analysis as well as focus groups and interviews with members of a cooperative in Lago do Junco, Maranhão.
The interviewees said that babassu nuts represent a sustainable business opportunity for them. Among many other possibilities, the nuts can be used in the cosmetics industry. This input is attracting growing interest in global value chains, given increasing international demand for products originating from fair trade relationships.
The cooperative in Lago do Junco has been selling babassu nuts to international cosmetics company The Body Shop since 1994. In light of the company’s policy to help fight poverty in its global value chain, it regularly makes social and infrastructure investments in the community.
The authors note that the Convention on Biological Diversity, signed in 1992, recognizes the contribution of indigenous peoples and local communities to conservation of the natural environment. Accordingly, governments, markets and non-governmental organizations should ally with sustainable solutions arising from community organizations. Communities can set up cooperatives and obtain resources to combine traditional knowledge about biodiversity with income generation for people.
You can see the full article here.