As a Community Interest Company, the farmers and cooperative members that we at Liberation work with are at the heart of our organisation. They are, afterall, the people that enable us to sell a fairtrade, ethical and delicious product! We therefore think it is important that not only our team but also our customers get an opportunity to meet some of the members. Over the next few weeks will be introducing a few of them.
Here we introduce Azgar Correa Periera.
With a current membership of 58 gather families, Aire Muije, in the north of Bolivia, originally began as a pilot project with the aim to reduce deforestation and promote the conservation of biodiversity and the improvement of livelihoods in the area. Since 2011 the Association has received a number of certifications and began working with Liberation in 2015.
With it´s mission being: “To work in an organized and responsible way…to support, to strengthen and to enable its associates to achieve more benefits that improve the quality of life, through the harvesting and sustainable use of the chestnut (Brazil nut) and other products of the forest…” the Association works hard and has impressive results in promoting equality and supporting community members both financially and emotionally, promoting sustainable harvesting and conservation practices and expanding the Association network and revenue.
Most recently, aside from supporting members through the Covid crisis, Aire Muije have used the Fairtrade Premium for a range of practical development including investing in water tanks, building plant nurseries and reconstructing collection centres, used for drying the Brazil nuts before selling them on.
What is your role and what does it involve?
I am President of AIR MUIJE. My role involves the institutional management of the Association, presenting reports and ensuring all members of Muije are kept informed on all activity. I contact wholesale and retail markets and international buyers for the sale of the products and search for new market opportunities alongside the Secretary of Economy and the Technical Director. I also coordinate the Annual General Assembly.
Please can you tell us a bit about the Association and its involvement with Liberation?
AIR MUIJE was founded on 24 October 2009 based on the indigenous people of the Tacana-Cavineño ethnic group with the intention of confronting the exploitation of the Brazil nut gatherers and to be able to collect, process and export their products. As of 2011 the organisation managed to obtain international certification in good practice of collection within the forests, including the organic certification and the Fairtrade certification. From 2012 Muije began its commercial relationship with Liberation and continues strengthening this relationship based on the fundamental principals of fair trade.
Can you tell us a bit about the significance of the work you do with Brazil Nuts?
It´s a way of subsistence because it allows me to feed and educate my children, but also it´s a very demanding job. For example there are areas where the Brazil nut trees are found far away in the depths of the jungle and to move the pods to the processing centres takes several days.
And what are the benefits of being a member of the Association?
Every year the organisation grants a reimbursement on the price of the raw material collected, directly increasing the earnings of the members by 25% in addition to that received by producers in the region who sell their products in conventional markets.
What are the biggest challenges you face at the moment?
The climate crisis, sanitary crisis and changes in the natural production of the Brazil nut trees.
How has the climate crisis affected the communities and the environment in which they live?
The phenomena resulting from climate change are becoming more and more frequent in the Amazon. The communities are affected by the attack on the environment, for example there are some years with rain shortages and others with too much rain and floods, these changes are affecting the agro-forestry systems and the production of Brazil nuts, the main source of income for the families. It´s a very difficult situation for the subsistence of the communities and the ecosystem in general.
How have you reacted to these changes?
Every year the organisation monitors the certified areas through our internal system to verify that it complies with the standards. This enables the forest to be conserved, thus maintaining the stocks of carbon.
What are your hopes and plans for the future of Muije?
To continue growing as an Indigenous organisation that complies with environmentally-friendly practices, to provide a better service for the members and their future generations, to form long-term alliances with our traditional clients based on confidence and the fulfilment of our commitments.