US Embassy hosts lunch to open Taste of the Amazon in Brasília

The Taste of the Amazon Festival will be held in Brasília from September 9 - 26. Ambassadors, diplomats, chefs, and partners of the Gosto da Amazônia collective brand (Taste of the Amazon) gathered for a luncheon promoted by the US Embassy to launch the event on Thursday, August 12. 

The sustainable management of wild pirarucu, one of the largest scaled fish in the world, aims to ensure that forests and bodies of water are protected from threats and external pressures. It promotes the conservation of pirarucu and other species, maintaining ecosystem services and helping to avoid carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. 

The festival is an initiative led by the Gosto da Amazônia collective brand which aims to promote the sale and consumption of sustainable pirarucu in other Brazilian regions. In Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, more than 150 bars and restaurants participated in the event; in Brasília, 50 establishments will join the festival.

“We are happy to be part of this success story, and to be able to encourage the consumption of managed pirarucu, and support the development of this sustainable production chain. During lunch, we had a chance to share this initiative with colleagues from other countries,” said the US Chargé d'affaires Douglas Koneff. 

Mr. Koneff is responsible for the work carried out by the US Embassy and Consulates in Brazil until the arrival of a new ambassador.

The event was attended by EU ambassador Ignácio Ybãnez; German ambassador Heiko Thoms; French ambassador Brigitte Colett; Norwegian Deputy Chief of Mission Camilla Rie Høgberg-Hoe; and USAID/Brazil director Ted Gehr.

USAID partner institutions were represented by Andreia Bavaresco, from the Brazilian Education Institute (IEB); Pedro Constantino, from the US Forest Service (USFS); and Adevaldo Dias, president of the Chico Mendes Memorial and member of the Carauari Rural Producers Association (ASPROC). 

The menu was signed by renowned chefs Ricardo Lapeyre, who ran Laguiole for six years, and recently opened Escama in Rio de Janeiro; and Mara Alcamim, owner of Universal Diner in Brasília.

USAID/Brazil has supported pirarucu sustainability projects since the 1980s, when this Amazonian fish was added to the endangered species list. It later supported the first efforts by traditional communities (including Indigenous and riverine people) to create sustainable management areas in natural lakes. 

Currently, support is provided through the Sustainable Value Chains Project, implemented by the IEB with technical assistance from the US Forest Service. Both organizations are implementers of the Partnership for the Conservation of Amazon Biodiversity (PCAB). The Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) provides additional technical assistance.  

“USAID/Brazil is proud to support projects such as Taste of the Amazon”, stressed Ted Gehr, adding that “in addition to helping to preserve the species, the project provides income to traditional communities living in the Amazon”.

All fish sold during the festival is provided by the Pirarucu Collective, a consortium of civil society organizations and community-based families that practice community management. The Carauari Rural Producers Association (ASPROC), works with riverine communities in the Médio Juruá Territory (in the state of Amazonas). They centralize all sustainable pirarucu commerce in the state.

Results – The pirarucu sustainable chain project sells about 10 percent of all managed pirarucu produced every year in the state. As a result, more than 2,100 people have seen an increase in their income, which adds up to R$1.2 million. 

The initiative promoted a 75 percent increase in the price paid to fish managers, directly protecting nearly 200,000 hectares in the Amazon, and indirectly preserving over 11 million hectares in 16 protected areas.

Thanks to their increased income, managers and their families are now able to engage in sustainable activities, rather than giving in to the pressures of degrading activities, such as deforestation, land grabbing, wildlife and drug trafficking, and illegal mining – which can have severe negative impacts on fish production chains in the region. 

Through the Sustainable Value Chains Project, Gosto da Amazônia has managed to insert wild pirarucu management in more affluent markets. For the 2020 harvest, 30 percent of all fish caught are expected to be sold outside the state of Amazonas. 

Another strategy of the project is to strengthen community organizations so they may protect their territories, add value to their production, and access public marketing policies. Currently, more than 70 percent of the production is used for school meals in the state of Amazonas, ensuring quality food for children, and a fair income for the communities involved. 

According to Dias, “this event was an opportunity for us to showcase our work and talk about the importance of this project for all communities involved. We have managed to improve the market for managers, and now we can see the positive impact for families."