Since beginning in 1970, Earth Day has brought together millions of people in over 190 countries to fight for a more sustainable future. This Earth Day takes place on Saturday 22 April. The campaign will shine a light on how we can invest in our planet together. We may not always think about the origin of items when we buy them but it is becoming increasingly important to understand the challenges faced by farmers and craftspeople.
In the Andean Region of South America, the challenging altitudes and landscapes are limiting in terms of income opportunities. Food insecurity is an issue in rural regions, where many smallholder farmers produce basic food crops, mostly potato, at a subsistence level.
Peruvian social enterprise Inka Moss offers training to support communities to supplement their income by collecting moss in a way that complements the natural ecosystem. They purchase the moss at a fair price and sell it internationally for various uses including in horticulture, to add nutrients to soil.
Access to finance can be an issue for organisations like Inka Moss. Agriculture can be seen as a high risk sector, with production often unpredictable, an issue which is intensified by climate change. Often, in the Peruvian Amazon, interest rates are over 20%, with short repayment periods.
Newcastle-based social lender Shared Interest has provided finance to Inka Moss for over five years, providing fair finance to help pay farmers when the moss is harvested.
The main change I have seen in the community is that the children can now get the proper food that they need to be healthy and that the community as a whole has an additional source of income to cover the needs we have.Fiorella Anchiraico Montalvo, moss collector
Working with the moss increases farmers’ annual income by almost a third. The additional employment also makes a huge difference to families, meaning that fewer men migrate to the city for work and women are able to earn their own money alongside caring for their livestock.