A loan of $6,000 helped to buy plantain seed stock, fertilizer, tools and pay labor for a plantain project.


Benicio's story

Embera Puru is a 200-person Emberá indigenous community in Panama’s Darien province. Embera Puru’s sister community Arimae has been working with Planting Empowerment for more than six years, and Embera Puru is partnering with Planting Empowerment to maximize the agricultural output of their land in a sustainable and profitable way. Embera Puru will use the $6,000 loan to buy locally-sourced plantain seed stock and cover the costs for their planting, maintenance, and harvest. With the proceeds from the plantain harvests they will finance community development projects, especially related to the preservation of their local culture, such as traditional dances and their artisan group. The proceeds will also support legal efforts to secure their reservation.

Benicio lives with his wife and children in Embera Puru, and is currently the noko, or traditional leader of the community. He has watched Planting Empowerment expand plantain production in Arimae, and is especially excited at the prospect of creating employment within the community, so that local youth do not have to travel away from home to make a living.

The residents of Embera Puru are ancestors of the Chocó people who migrated from the Chocó region of Colombia during the 16th century, and subsisted for generations as hunter-gatherers and fishermen. Today, the community members depend mostly on subsistence agriculture and day labor to put food on the table. Embera Puru is part of a network of indigenous reservations that once stretched for hundreds of thousands of hectares in the Darien. Over the past 30 years, however, their land holdings have declined sharply as illegal loggers and cattle ranchers encroach into their reservation in search of tropical timber and pastureland. Embera Puru was established as an outlier community to guard against further encroachment of the reserve from the Agua Fria boundary.



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Loan details