"Little by Little, the Community Is Improving."After years of grappling with adversity, San Juan de Cheni is entering a new era of hope and progress.
And a lot of that is due to sustainable farming techniques adopted with help from Rainforest Alliance. While conservation wasn't exactly front of mind when the Peruvian community was contending with the presence of Shining Path rebels, it has since become a pillar of the community's identity.
"People have stopped hunting and cutting down trees," says Abel Yaranga, a farmer who helped found APROCHEN, the community's farmers association. "Twenty years ago there was a lot more forest and a lot more animals. Now we are trying to recuperate what we lost. We have a reforestation program. If only we had started working with the Rainforest Alliance 20 years ago, we could have conserved a lot more.”
But by getting their farms Rainforest Alliance Certified™, the farmers of San Juan aren't just committing to conservation—they're also taking steps to achieve social progress.
Of APROCHEN's 35 members, 11 are women, signaling the community's efforts to advance gender equality. One of those women is Eva Llanes, who also serves as APROCHEN's secretary.
"If only we had started working with the Rainforest Alliance 20 years ago, we could have conserved a lot more."
“As a woman, I feel that I’ve accomplished something and that I can serve as an example to the others," Llanes says. "I’m also providing a good example for my children, so that they continue on this route.”
APROCHEN has made strides not just toward gender equality but toward providing future generations with a brighter future.
“With better production and prices, health and education in the community have improved," Yaranga says. "People are now able to buy things like clothes and school supplies for their children.”
All of these things have added up to make APROCHEN a model for sustainable progress in a region that's struggled for decades to find a way forward.
“Now more farmers want to join our association," says José Andrés Cipriani, a farmer who also serves as the village's headman. "They see that life has improved for people in our community. Little by little, the community is improving.”