Isabelle Marjorie Tremblay
Special collaboration November 4, 2023
Photo: Socodevi Tara, cultivated for its tannins and its gum, allows the Andean population of Bolivia to diversify its crops.
This text is part of the special International Solidarity section
Ultimately, farming families in Bolivia can expect an income ten times higher than what they currently earn.
“Our desire was for these Andean families living in the high mountains of the Chuquisaca region of Bolivia to earn more than their current $300 per year income,” explains Martin Beaurivage, Socodevi director for Bolivia and Peru. Our team researched around forty products over several months and Tara stood out. The tannins can be extracted to dye leather, and the gum for food or cosmetic purposes. These products are very popular around the world and the pods are not perishable. »
With its 38 years of experience in the international development of cooperatives, Socodevi today supports hundreds of Andean families so that they benefit from the tara pod harvests.
< p>Inspired by practices already implemented in Peru, the Socodevi team first consulted the population to share the results of its research. “In the first phase of the project, called Promavi, there was training in agri-environment through what we call the field school. We also covered topics such as safe water, hygiene, gender equality and women's leadership, and even climate change,” adds Martin Beaurivage from his office in Bolivia.
< h2 class="h2-intertitle">A processing plant
Because the influence of climate change is already being felt. More frosts and exceptionally heavy rains are forcing farming families to adapt their practices, but above all to increase the variety of products they grow. It is in this context that the first shrubs were planted.
“You had to take the time to get to know him well,” says Mr. Beaurivage. This is an integral, global development project, which also includes an economic component. »
Thus, the opening of a tara pod packaging factory in the village of Tomina, on November 4, 2021, a first in Bolivia, marked a turning point. Some 6,000 tonnes of pods per year could thus be processed.
“The Andean populations already cultivate corn, potatoes, beans,” he continues. Tara is therefore one more element which will allow them to diversify their agriculture and their income. For families, this factory represents a giant step: the certainty that their production will be purchased. Besides, from that moment on, the phone didn't stop ringing. And then, the mayors of other municipalities, the representatives of other communities, everyone wanted to know more. »
It has now been three years since the first tara trees were planted, and phase 2, called Sayaryi, is underway. As it takes three years before a first harvest can be made, the Tomina factory is currently little used. But outside, the teams are busy. The goal: to plant 1.2 million shrubs over the next three years. “A family with 500 plants will be able to receive US$2,800 [around CA$3,900] in annual income from tara alone. With target markets like Argentina, a major buyer of tannins, Europe and Asia for gum… Demand is there and is likely to increase over the years.
“The real success from this project, it will be when we can withdraw for good, concludes Martin Beaurivage. There is already an association which is autonomous and sustainable which will be able to continue without us. However, we will still be with them for a while, but our reward will be to withdraw and see that all this continues. »
This content was produced by the Devoir special publications team, relating to marketing. The editorial staff of Devoir did not take part.