When we think of gaining reliable access to electricity, we often think about general lighting at first and the health benefits of displacing kerosene lanterns and diesel generators. But ask yourself this question, “How do I use electricity in my work?” Around the world, beyond lighting, electricity is one of the essential building blocks for economic opportunity. This is the case for the small community of Bretaña, Puinahua, Loreto, Peru where gaining access to renewable energy has enhanced their fishing industry.
Ice Making in the Amazon
Bretaña lies deep in the hot and humid Peruvian Amazon, within the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve buffer zone. Built next to the slow-moving Puinahua Canal, the village is in a prime location for local fishing. There are 11 artisanal fishing associations in Bretaña, and while 20% of the fish caught are kept for household consumption, 80% are sold at the local market. Unfortunately, a larger regional market where they could sell their goods at a higher price is too far for the fisherman to travel with fresh fish. Their income is further reduced by the high price of ice, necessary to keep the fish fresh in the heat of the jungle.
To address this challenge, Bretaña partnered with Green Empowerment and Energia, Ambiente y Sostenibilidad (EA&S) to design and install a community refrigeration system and ice plant powered by a 30 kW solar photovoltaic system. The ice-making facility is owned by OSPPA Bretaña (Organización Social de Pescadores y Procesadores Artesanales Bretaña) which groups the 11 fishing associations involved in the project. By producing ice locally, each fishing family saves 400 soles (~ 107 USD) every month!
Not only is locally sourced ice more cost-effective for fishermen, but it also promotes the local economic development of the community by generating paying jobs. To ensure long-term functioning and sustainability, EA&S trained 30 women from the community who are in charge of the administration and operation of the ice plant.
“This process [ice making] is possible thanks to the work of the women from the community (Punchi Warmi microenterprise) who are in charge of the operation and maintenance of the ice plant. After receiving different training in financial, organizational, accounting and information management issues, they are now working hard in keeping their accounting and financial information up to date, selling the ice produced and working hand in hand with the fishermen of the community aiming towards the self-sustainability of the ice plant.”Katya Díaz Salcedo, Peru & Bolivia Program Coordinator
We completed the project and training in May 2022. One year later, Bretaña’s ice-making facility continues to thrive, a communally owned business with local women operating and administering all parts of the project. A huge thank you to EA&S, PETROTAL, Despensa Amazónica, and the local government and fish associations for your contributions to the success of Bretaña.
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