Kallari — Sustainable Crafts And Organic Chocolate Preserving Amazonian Culture

With reference to our post yesterday on Caboclo’s Amazonian Jewellery we’d like to tell you about Kallari. Like Caboclo, Kallari promotes traditional Amazonian craftwork, but rather than Brazil they are based in rainforests of Ecuador. They started in 1997 as a craft cooperative with less than fifty families from the Kichwa tribe. Their mission was to provide an alternative income from deforestation whilst also preserving their own distinctive culture. Now the cooperative includes 660 families, and as well as craftwork they now produce organic chocolate and coffee. These products are being exported to 12 countries around the world and provide a sustainable income for the Kichwa people without them having to succumb to logging, mining or petroleum interests.Before the Kallari cooperative was started it was difficult for the local people not to sell out to the highest bidder, no matter the ecological impact, but since 2002 the exported crafts have generated an income higher than any other source, including the sale of timber. The girl in the photo you can see on the left is called Marcia Shiguango Yumbo, she is holding the base of a basket she has been learning to weave. She and other youths like her have been encouraged, by Kallari’s success, to learn the traditional crafts as a way of providing for themselves. This trend is growing as other locals begin to see the advantages of preserving their culture and working the land in a sustainable way. In five years the farmers have doubled the value of the cacao, and now with the organic certification from BioLatina they are hoping to double the prices again as they start exporting to America and Europe, eventually reaching the highest level of Fair Trade income.

You can visit Kallari online to order products, find your local stockist, express an interest in stocking their products, or even volunteer your services. You can also learn more about Kallari’s work, and its founder Judy Logback, in this interview in Grist Magazine. ::Kallari