First Açaí Fair Celebrates Its Importance in the Bolivian Amazon
April 24, 2022
The season of açaí harvesting has begun in the Bolivian Amazon. To welcome its return our sister organization on the ground in Bolivia, Conservación Amazónica – ACEAA, celebrated at the department of Pando’s first annual Açaí Fair on April 13th.
We’ve been working to strengthen and improve açaí harvesting for many years now, as the collection of açaí and other forest products is a key conservation and community development strategy because it can only grow in healthy forests, not in large-scale plantations. Thus, utilizing and improving the harvest of this renewable forest resource provides economic value to keeping forests standing.
The event included an açaí collection demonstration with Robinson Nacimento, a seasoned harvester from the native community of Trinchera in the Bolivian Amazon. To collect açaí, harvesters must climb trees up to 65 feet high and then carefully cut and descend with heavy bundles of fruit of up to 15 pounds. This is not without safety measures, as Misael Campos, the president of the Federation of Açaí and Amazonian Fruits of Pando (FEDAFAP) noted, “He’ll be following the Federation’s standards and security measures, like safety harnesses that we developed with institutions like Conservación Amazónica – ACEAA.” As Robinson explained the different equipment he used to harvest, he showed the harness that Misael referenced saying that, “It’s a lifeline.” He also showed his bag to collect açai and a machete to cut the bundles of fruit from the branches.
To those not used to the açaí harvesting process, seeing Robinson scale the tree was a nerve-wracking experience. But Misael assured the group of his expertise and familiarity with the process, as harvesting is a regular activity for him. “The worry isn’t being able to retrieve the açaí. It’s that we won’t be able to eat all the berries that he collects!” He also emphasized that the Federation has been grateful to strengthen harvesting practices with help from institutions and nongovernmental organizations, such as ours. He also emphasized the potential to replicate the successes in safer and improved harvesting in other parts of the Bolivian Amazon, saying that, “We can apply this system to other zones as well…there are measures, there’s equipment. We as a Federation are available to share this experience, technology, and equipment that is advancing.”
Pando’s first Açaí Fair overall promoted the knowledge and processing of this key Amazonian fruit and brought together presenters and producers from the municipalities of Santa Rosa, Porvenir, Filadelfia and Puerto Rico. An array of açaí-based products were available to try or purchase, including different types of food and a variety of local crafts. The month of April is even recognized as the month of Amazonian fruits, and açaí has also been declared as part of the Pando’s natural heritage, as the fruit is highlighted for their economic potential and basis for the conservation of the Amazonian ecosystem.