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The Tanzanian butterfly effect
Community enterprise reduces poverty among forest dwellers
RIO BRANCO, BRAZIL (20 July 2007)— There is a saying in chaos theory that a butterfly flapping its wings in Rio de Janeiro could cause a hurricane in the Caribbean. What happens when a butterfly does its thing in Tanzania? According to Charles Meshack, executive director of the non-government Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG), it brings new hope to the rural poor.
With the help of grants from several donors, the TFCG is working with farmers living in the Amani community in Tanzania’s Usambara Mountains, a biodiversity hotspot of global significance, to introduce a butterfly export business. Farmers there earn a meager living on small plots of land, producing cash crops such as cardamom, cloves, coffee, tea and bananas. They have no electricity and little access to health and education services. But the butterfly effect is starting to show. “This year the community will earn US$50,000 from their butterflies, up from US$45,000 last year,” says Meshack. “Next year we expect total revenue to be about US$60,000.”
The story of the butterfly-producing community of Tanzania was presented this week, along with those of forest communities from other tropical nations in Africa, Asia and the Americas, during an international conference on community forest enterprises held in Rio Branco, capital of Acre, one of eight states that comprise the Brazilian Amazon. The event, organized by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), IUCN – The World Conservation Union and the Global Alliance of Forest Communities, has brought together 250 representatives of community enterprises from more than 40 countries. It will continue through Friday, 20 July 2007.
Read the complete press_release.doc.
Posted By Anne-Sophie Samjee at 9:47am on July 25, 2007
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