“My name is Geremías Apikai Wisum. I wake up every day at 5 in the morning, I go in the forest, search and cut to make the extraction of shiringa.”
Geremías Apikai lives in the Tuntanain Communal Reserve in Condorcanqui, Amazonas. Despite housing great biodiversity, in one of the 12 megadiverse countries of the world, Condorcanqui is and has been historically, one of the provinces with the lowest HDI at the national level.
To get to the Tuntanain Communal Reserve, one must take a boat from Santa Maria de Nieva, the province’s capital, and travel 5 hours by river. It is a difficult path to travel, and development takes long to get there.
“We didn’t have an economic system, how to get by, how to feed our children.” Remembers Geremias. But now, with the extraction of the natural latex of the shiringa tree, he’s found a way to get integrated into the productive chain and the work market.
Geremías and the other members of the association make cuts in the bark of the tree and gather the sap that comes out. Then, they dry it in sheets that are sold to companies in lima or made into products like backpacks. From the first sale of shiringa, nowadays, Geremias and the association have increased their income by 160%.
With biodiversity and natural resources, and a little indigenous innovation, development is advancing in Condorcanqui.
Development is moving hand in hand with the preservation of biodiversity, which has given the ECA Tuntanain the Equator Prize in 2019. The extraction of shiringa is one of the productive activities promoted by the EBA Amazonia project, implemented by UNDP. The Tuntanain Communal Reserve is also a part of the new territorial development model being developed by UNDP to be replicated throughout the Peruvian Amazon.