Forest and Farm Facility

New regional knowledge network of Latin American forest and farm producer organisations


Santa Cruz, 16 October – A knowledge network linking 15 forest and farm producer organisations from Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador has been launched during a regional exchange in Bolivia on the contribution of Indigenous, Native, and Afro-descendant Peoples' forests and ancestral knowledge to establishing healthy and sustainable food systems.

The need for such network emerged after five days of exchanging knowledge and experiences at the event organized by the Forest and Farm Facility (a partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and AgriCord) with support from the FAO Representations in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Forest and farm producer organizations (FFPOs), Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLC) play a critical role in food security and sovereignty, as well as in promoting sustainable food systems, as underlined by the UN Decade of Family Farming launched in 2019. Family farming accounts for 80% of the world's food production, and the Global Action Plan for the Decade of Family Farming highlights the need to strengthen farmer organizations, promote the sustainability of family farming, and foster innovations that contribute to territorial development and safeguard biodiversity, the environment, and culture.

At a share fair during the event, representative form local communities showcased the diversity of their food products, which have many nutritious properties. A great example is açai, a fruit full of antioxidants and a main feature of the diet of local families. Açai grows in on palm trees up to 30 metres tall, and to harvest it and conserve the tree, collectors climb the tree and collect the fruit from the top, a practice transferred through generations in the local communities.

“Forests are life, and our way of living taught by our parents and grandparents is to care for them and use them sustainably,“ said Ignacia Supepi, Chief of the Rio Blanco community.

Forests are vital for indigenous communities in Latin America, who use their ancestral knowledge to promote healthy and sustainable food systems. 


New business opportunities

Network members will use the network to strengthen each other’s efforts to revalue ancestral knowledge and practices for the sustainable production of forest goods that contribute to health and wellbeing, including nutrient dense fruits and medicinal plants and oils.

“Exchange of knowledge and experiences is crucial for small producers to grow,” said Diego Lino, President of the Association of Producers of Bolivia (AOPEB).

The network is also an expression of solidarity and collaboration, and member organisations plan to share with each other the challenges they face and ways of overcoming them to help others learn from these experiences. 


Small producers at the event made business agreements to sell each other’s products or combine them for innovative recipes, such as chocolate bars with açai pieces. The network will enable them to continue finding new ways to collaborate. 

Through business roundtables, producers’ organisations discussed new business opportunities with representatives of medium and large enterprises in Bolivia interested in purchasing local and sustainable products from FFPOs and IPLCs. The 80 business roundtables concluded proposed deals for a total of USD 232,000.


Gastronomic traditions and innovations for food security

The event brought together representatives of FFPOs, Indigenous, Native and Afro-Descendent People, Local Communities, government representatives and stakeholders from along the food value chain, including chefs and hotels, restaurants and catering companies. It sought to promote the conservation and sustainable use of agrobiodiversity through indigenous knowledge, exchange gastronomic traditions, explore the role of men, women and youth in preserving this knowledge, and identify challenges and solutions for sustainable agrobiodiversity in forested regions. 

A video documenting the experiences and recommendations from the exchange will be shared across networks and communities to ensure broader dissemination and policy design.  


More information about the regional exchange of experiences