Building a Fish Farm in Puerto Firmeza: Towards Food Security and Cultural Preservation

 On September 20th, Alianza Arkana and the indigenous community of Puerto Firmeza held their first minga (community work day) to begin the construction of the school´s fish farm, an  important next step towards creating a productive and intercultural education in the community. The fish farm will not only provide a nutrient rich food source for the children, but students will also learn how to maintain and take care of a fish farm as well as traditional skills of fishing using bows and arrows. The construction of the fish farm is made possible by our supporters, who just helped us raise nearly $10,000 in a recent fundraising effort, through Global Giving.

Alianza Arkana has been working with Puerto Firmeza since the beginning of 2011 to create a fully functioning new model of intercultural and ¨productive¨education, in which Shipibo students are not only provided a high-quality Western education, but also learn about their culture and cosmovision, as well as being directly involved in food production as part of their education.

The production of healthy food is extremely important, as a significant number of students suffer from malnourishment, as a result of environmental degradation in the community primarily caused by overfishing, illegal logging, and slash and burn agriculture. Children arrive to school in the morning not having eaten and therefore cannot concentrate in their classes. The ultimate aim of the school is to offer every student a breakfast and lunch every day.


Throughout 2011 and this year, Alianza Arkana has been helping build the basic infrastructure for the provision of food to the school based on permaculture principles. Traditional food crops and fruit trees have been planted, and recently, with the help of the local community, a chicken farm has been established.

In combination with the fruits and vegetables now planted, the chickens and eggs that will be ready by the middle of next year, the fish farm will provide an important source of food for the school students of high nutritional value.

The minga was attended by 50 adults and 30 older studnts. A series of 5 more mingas will be held during the next weeks to implement the basic infrastructure of the fish farm so that when the rainy season begins in Novemer, the land in front of the dam will fill with water to form a lake.

Once the dam is built and the area filled with water, 15,000 small fish called boca chica (literally translated “small mouth”) will be introduced into the newly created lake. These will grow in size to reach nearly one kilogram each, until they are ready to be harvested in October 2013. Fruit trees that have been planted and other trees that already exist in the area will provide the food for the fish.

Deborah Rivett, Friday, 28 September 2012