Non Ráo – Our Plant Medicine
NON RAO is a medicine plant project the Shipiob Joi is helping to support through funding. It is being organized and executed by the Federation of Native Communities of the Calleria District (FECONADIC). FECONADIC is a Shipibo-Konibo organization that represents the Shipibo communities of the Calleria river basin. Its mission is to defend collective indigenous rights, to articulate to regional and national stakeholders, Shipibo-Konibo needs and problems through proactive participation in dialogue and decision making. FECONADIC works towards revaluing cultural identity, conservation of biodiversity and management of its forest in sustainable ways.
Through this project, the members of our Shipibo communities will grow and harvest a wide variety of medicinal plants such as Banisteriopsis caapi, Achiote, Mucura and Matico amongst many others and with them create an array of organic natural medicinal products. We will distribute these medicinal products nationally and internationally to support the livelihoods of Shipibo families who constitute a vulnerable population. Moreover, this initiative contributes to the upholding and transference of our ancestral knowledge and cultural identity.
Through this project we hope to secure health sovereignty and resiliency within our communities by reducing dependency on expensive pharmaceutical medicines. This is of utmost importance now when the COVID 19 pandemic has hit Indigenous Peoples hardest. We have lost our livelihoods and economic sustenance to the loss of tourism, as well as suffering the complete lack of state support both medically and economically during this extreme crisis. Many of our elders and fellow indigenous members have passed away from the COVID 19 virus.
This project puts into action economic reciprocity and cultural recognition of the Shipibo people. For years now, we have shared our wealth of wisdom and the healing knowledge of medicinal plants with the wider world. Buying these medicines directly from Shipibo communities creates a direct means through which the entire Shipibo community can benefit from the growing interest that the world is taking in our extensive plant knowledge.
The Non Rao initiative is starting with the participation of FECONADIC’s three communities: Calleria, Patria Nueva and Saposoa, but it will scale up to include more communities once the project gains support and momentum. The first stage of Non Rao began in December 2020, and in our first year, we aim to plant banisteriopsis caapi and chacruna on 60 hectares of Shipibo territory using sustainable forest management practices, combining the knowledge of our forestry specialists as well as that of Shipibo people in the communal territory.
Our current focus is on the production of Banisteriopsis caapi and Chacruna. To date, 2,000 seedlings have been produced for planting in the first 5 hectares, from which 22 families of 100 people will benefit directly. These families will become the stewards of a certain number of plants and will contribute to their maintenance and care until they are ready for harvesting in 5 years from now. At this point, each family will be able to sell their products as sustainable and ethical trade with the aid of a well developed business plan under the project brand name and create a livelihood for these families. Shipibo Joi provided funding for the first 5 hectares and are we currently looking for financing not only to complete the 55 remaining hectares but to also begin the second stage of the project. The second phase intends to create products that we can steadily sell within the next 2 years and beyond with our objective being to achieve the commercialization of our medicinal plant products so that we can participate in a self-sustaining economy. Our goal is to secure the continuity and enrichment of the livelihoods of the Shipibo Conibo population while preserving our culture and lands.