Vegetable art: Promoting craftsmanship competitiveness and biodiversity conservation

Vegetable art: Promoting craftsmanship competitiveness and biodiversity conservation

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The project aims to contribute to the strengthening the capacities of local artisan communities through the promotion and articulation of the value chain in the production of plant fiber crafts, with tourism. We propose the creation of dignifying jobs, strengthening the identity, promoting social empowerment, improved inputs, product quality and market access. It seeks to enhance the coordination of actors (community organizations, public and private institutions), and activities for the sustainable use and exploitation of the region's potential while preserving its biodiversity. The proposal aims at improving competitiveness in the context of a economy based on solidarity.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Target populations are settled in the areas of influence of two coastal wetlands (Medio Mundo and El Paraiso) located at 140 and 170 kilometers north of Lima. There are 120 families organized into two associations (TEJESOL and AMARTEM) and two co-extractors (José Olaya and Medio Mundo). In the case of families living in El Paraiso, their settlement is poor, families were displaced due to the violence in the 80´s, the recent discovery of Bandurria archaeological site, on which they live, affects their relocation. At present, they do not have any infrastructure services (water, sewage and electricity). Their average income is U.S. $ 200 per month per family. The educational level of household chiefs is low, mostly only a primary education. With reference to the families living in the Centro Poblado de Mundo Medio, it is a minority group (with reference to the total population), which continues to develop its agricultural and craftsmanship work around the Regional Conservation Area today: Albufera de Medio Mundo. In both cases there are partnerships to develop joint activities. We have implemented a number of initiatives that have taken as the guiding priciple the educational component. Women's organizations have managed to maintain active participation. In the case of cooperatives formed mostly by adults amyores, their participation is intermittent.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The proposal comes as a strategy for biodiversity conservation, specifically for the protection of coastal wetlands located north of Lima. The extraction and processing of plant fibers is a traditional activity dating back to 5,000 years ago. With the discovery of the Sacred City of Caral, the area is becoming a tourist destination, but the population living in their areas of influence have serious income, poverty and exclusion issues. The project seeks to articulate local stakeholders on a strategy of sustainable development based on their traditional knowledge (the rush and reed weaving and the manufacture of reed mats). Landscape conservation is closely connected with the development of the craft and are perfectly compatible, is to enhance local capabilities and provide the information necessary to develop new activities that demand the transformation of the territory, increasing their income and improving quality of life. The proposal to improve the competitiveness of the production plant fiber craft is an option that would ensure the conservation of wetlands by reducing the pressure (extraction), through its processing for quality handicrafts.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The project includes the implementation of activities in four fields: 1) capacity building, 2) sustainable management of resources, 3) differentiation and improvement of product quality and 4) market access. In each and every one of them we aim at generating educational processes for different age groups giving priority to young people and women. Establishing synergies between its components to optimize the management of micro and small enterprises (associations and co-operatives of extractors and producers of handicrafts from plant fibers.) Currently, men are in charge of removing the reed, bulrushes and reeds of the wetlands and women make craft products. Also, there are limitations to establish production costs, volumes are limited and prices are low due to the brokering. Additionally there are problems with transport and purchasing inputs. This is why training courses and workshops will be implemented for the organization and management of family and community endeavors. Pilot experiences of forest management and appropriate technologies will be developed for drying and biological supplies control. Implementation of technical assistance programs and consulting for the design of new products. Communication and signaling strategies to link the craftsmanship with the tours.
About You
Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo
About You
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About Your Organization
Organization Name

Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

The areas of intervention and craftsmanship have a number of historical records dating back to the pre-Columbian era. They have developed a set of joined projects which include: The conservation and sustainable management project of wetlands in the central coast (funded by the Italian government), the reeds and rushes project supported by the government of the Balearic Islands, the project to strengthen the production chain of vegetable fiber craft funded by the regional government of Lima. In all previous efforts, the Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo SPDE and the sponsor of this proposal have participated as co-executors.
Timeline of interventions started in 2006. The proposal comes as a strategy for biodiversity conservation (wetlands), linking the issues of education, planning, infrastructure, tourism and handicrafts. The current project stems from the observation of the fundamental need to ensure continuity of joint actions strengthening actors and strategic activities in a common perspective. The recent participation in the process of formulating the National Strategic Plan for Crafts PENDAR, has revealed common weaknesses in the competitive sector, management structures, supply, demand, supporting industries, role of the state and vulnerability to climate change. And the many opportunities for the development of our community.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

It can be said that intervention followed a gradual approach. First we developed technical tools for wetland conservation planning, then we built strategic alliances to develop the activities that were compatible. Specifically for the two wetlands, classification as protected areas proposals were developed. One of them has been categorized as a Regional Conservation Area (600 ha). The other is still in process (720 ha). From an educational perspective we were able to raise awareness among 30.000 children, to train over 180 teachers, forming a network of 30 schools, produced a guide to environmental education in wetlands and a course in environmental education for 50 teachers. We designed an environmental monitoring system for 4 coastal wetlands. A series of demonstration works to protect manante were built (2), viewpoints (4), interpretation trails (4), piers (2), renewable energy-wind (1), rehabilitation of housing (10). interpretation rehabilitation centers (3) and open classrooms (1). In the promotion of productive economic activity, we have trained 60 women (handicrafts production plant fiber), there have been courses in paper production (4), it has promoted the organization of an association of artisans (AMARTEM). There has been an increase in family income of 120 new soles per month (U.S. $ 40). 120 were trained as tourist guides and developed a regional tourist map that links: wetlands, archeology and biodiversity.

How many people have been impacted by your project?


How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

101- 1,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

The authorities and public officials will know the economic potential of handicrafts and allocate resources for its strengthening.

The private sector gradually values the local handicraft production as an element of identity and it becomes a factor for its demand.

Producer organizations increase their skills and better articulate with the market.

The tourist destination is positioned in the regional market and crafts achieve greater competitiveness thus improving the income of the artisans and craftsmen of the area.

Relationships between levels of local government are consolidated at the regional and national levels to establish an integrated policy for promotion of handicrafts.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

A key aspect of vulnerability is related to the availability of supplies in quantity and quality (incidence of pests and diseases in plantations). The institution has identified the problem and possible solutions (eg biological plague contollers release). Funding for certain components of the program guarantees the permanence of a technical team that will continue to manage new projects and technical cooperation or partnership is at the international and participatory budgets of local and regional governments. The sub valuation of the craft as a means to a dignified life is another risk factor. However, recovery of traditional knowledge and its impact on improving the income is a key factor in the strategy for promotion of handicrafts. Here the educational experience, education and training is essential, as well as the communication strategy. The program provides a line of educational work, linked to the system of formal and informal education in perspetiva should strengthen the network of schools and ICT. Finally, a structural weakness in our case is the subject of the institutions, for each change of authorities, technicians and staff requires a new process and coordination. The preparation of local development and regional craft plans of medium and long term is a key element to ensure the achievement of the objectives in this regard will prioritize these initiatives Through strategic alliances and a systemic approach.

Tell us about your partnerships

During the previous stages we have had authorities and regional government officials as allies (management of environment and economic development) and municipalities. In both cases it was possible to allocate financial resources to complement efforts by supporting and advocating public management on the technical aspects. Another important ally was the National Institute of Agrarian Research (INIA). With reference to the education sector, we had the active participation of the regional directorate of education and educational management units (UGEL) as well as two public universities (faculties of education and tourism). Further actions were coordinated with the Archaeological Project and the PEA Caral. The network of rural schools friends to the wetlands, a diploma in environmental education, and the issuing of ecotourism and interpretation courses, were products of this collaboration. With regard to local actors, women's organizations have been the main ally. In this case included the participation of the Church through their pastor, and the association of TEJESOL artisans, the predecessor of our intervention initiative which was the basis and support of the proposal.

Explain your selections

During the past year it has had two types of financing. On the one hand, the International Technical Cooperation (Voluntary of Majorca, Balearic Islands Government) and funded by the Regional Government of Lima-Provinces. Additionally, it has received technical support from SPDE.
In this regard also includes the capitalization of the members of AMARTEM, the artisans of El Paraiso and extractors co-operatives, the same who given their dependence on craftsmanship extractive activity and its activities ,have remained permanently assigning the time and participation required by the planned activities.

Finally, we have had input in the form of payment for products from local buyers (mainly tourists and visitors), and the fair market sale (Spain-Italy). It should be noted the participation in fairs and local and regional expos as a sales strategy that has taken place during this period.
In a yet early but growing maner, we have been identified enterprises (hotels, restaurants, ences. of transport among the most important), which are incorporating corporate social responsibility criteria and are strategic partners for the brand positioning and a consolidation strategy for promotion and trading of handicraft products.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

A key issue will be the incorporation of young people. The apparent inability of the liberal model production and consumption, set serious constraints to youth access to decent jobs. The craft is presented as an opportunity to channel their incorporation into the economically active population and promote the development of new ventures, for which it is essential to strengthen their capacities.

Another aspect is the diversification of products such as furniture and stationery. The commercialization of reed, rattan and reed, without any added value should be gradually substituted by developing new products (differentiated) that require less material inputs and more elaboration / processing, and therefore have a higher price in the market.
A third factor is the creation of quality brands and flagship products. In this sense, initial steps have been taken as the attached proposals.


Finally, wetlands, craftsmanship production workshops and the regional home of the artisan, will be articulated on the tourist circuit, contributing to the creation of a regional tour.

Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.


Lack of skills/training


Restricted access to new markets


Lack of access to information and networks

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

We have detected that all basic training needs to improve individual and collective competitiveness of handicraft producer organizations, as well as the most appropriate methodologies for strengthening their abilities.
At this stage we intend to strengthen marketing capabilities ( customer service and sales ) for a local market ( domestic tourists) . We also believe that it is possible to diversify and expand product supply.
The education component is based on the option to reduce digital illiteracy and promote the use of ICTs. Forming intergenerational teams will be key to integrate and enhance production.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.


Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services



Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

Since the production areas of plant fibers are present in various areas (coast, sierra and jungle), there have been initial levels of trade in the coastal axis. In the Lima region, and northern regions of Peru. Also therehas been an exchange experience with Ecuador (Fundación Alternativa).
From the perspective of capacity building, trade or internships for young, women and elderly, they are an interesting option for the development and enhancement of the experience.

The inclusion of proposals for promotion of crafts in development plans and resource allocation in the participative budgets will be a priority.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Government, NGOs/Nonprofits, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

It is clear that the articulation of actors and activities tend to promote the initiatives. To reduce isolation is critical to achieving greater competitiveness clusters are nothing more than networks and these are built on the chain of actors and activities areas. The initial synergies have the merit of breaking with distrust and have managed to meet us in our multiple dimensions (SWOT). A key factor was to develop and implement joint activities with government resources, complementing initiatives that failed to channel resources to medium-term investment. The complexity of community development demand of medium and long term strategies. A critical factor has been to ensure continuity.