Upscaling of the value chain of fish leather was achieved, adding economic value to the paiche, through supporty by PPV and ¨Fundación Valles¨!
One of the objectives of the PPV project was the upscaling of innovative solutions. This objective was pursued through diversification in the production of paiche (Arapaima gigas) byproducts, thus achieving greater benefits for the indigenous communities and artisanal fishers of the Bolivian Amazon.
In the first stage, PPV supported an artisanal tannery, led by Lincon Zapata, a fish leather specialist who has been working on the subject for 15 years. Lincon received additional training from ProBolivia, a public institute that supports the leather chain. In addition, Fundación Valle awarded a seed-grant to FAUNAGUA, to build an experimental tannery, equipped with an innovative water treatment system. PPV gave all the initial support to consolidate this new chain, introducing best practices in fishing and in the extraction of the skin.
Lincon managed to consolidate its tannery and currently processes 10% of the fish skin available in the Bolivian Amazonian. But this initial process generated a spectacular snowball effect. Other tanneries appeared, with greater capacity than Lincon, which began to buy skins (previously discarded). Nowadays approximately 50% of the skins are transformed into leather and used in the manufacture of shoes, belts and wallets.
The environmental, social, economic and cultural impacts of this upscaling process are enormous:
• Best practices were introduced in the fishing activitiy, resulting in less environmental impact;
• Thanks to the adoption of best practices, the meat of the paiche arrives now in better conditions to the market, favoring food security
• The economic benefit of the fishers increased with percentages between 10 and 20%;
• New links were created in the fish chain, with greater participation of women
• The indigenous, whose subsistence fishing based on native species was affected by the arrival of the paiche (an invasive species), actively participate in this new chain and in this way can reduce the negative impact of the paiche on the ichthyofauna within their territories.