Two men are settting nets in a fishpond surrounded by forest.

Diversifying diets in the Peruvian Amazon

Chocolate, inga, fish. It’s not the start of a lockdown cookbook. Instead, these three ingredients may be a successful recipe for the Awajún to earn a living, feed their families and protect their forest.


On the banks of the Rio Marañon lie the Awajún villages of Urakuza and Huaracayo. The past six months has seen efforts focussed on supporting people in these remote rainforest settlements to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

From food to seeds and access to medical care, their urgent needs have been Cool Earth’s priority. Now, with new procedures in place, we’re helping people plan for the future with sustainable income opportunities.

At the start of October Felix Iván Mejía Pérez, Cool Earth’s Fish Farming Technician along with 37,000 fish fry, arrived in the Awajún. He’ll be following strict protocol including a Covid-19 test before entering the partnerships and using personal protective equipment (PPE) to conduct activities. Felix is back at the request of the community to help them work on re-starting innovative sustainable income projects. First up: fish ponds.

Two people practice the sustainable income method of fish farming, they check a fishing net for catch in a large pond surrounded by vibrant tropical rainforest.

Raising fish will help 97 direct beneficiaries diversify their food intake, supplement their diet with a valuable source of protein and achieve greater food security. Technician Felix will be on hand to support with all they need to ensure the fish grow up healthy and strong. Farmers will receive advice on feed quality, natural nutrients, cost-effective methods to produce fish feed and support in collecting biometric data on the size and weight of fish.

It’s also a complex science constructing new ponds that keep fish and the surrounding forest healthy. Ensuring correct soil combinations, water levels, dams to prevent water escaping and planting up terraced banking will keep the community busy in the months ahead.

Urakuza Secondary school will run a course on the installation, management and monitoring of fish ponds, complementing the communities’ project. Helping today’s dedicated students to become tomorrow’s successful farmers.

The forest benefits too as poverty is a common driver of deforestation. If families are healthy and secure, the forest is more likely to be healthy and standing strong too.