Brazil Posts

Forest Trends feedback in the Amazon

Posted mercredi 26 juin 2019 by Urs Riggenbach.

We started our cooperation with Forest Trends last year in the Amazon with the Surui. Today, the US based NGO reported that "The pilot installation of the Lytefire dehydrator unit for drying the babaçu mesocarp [tree nuts] has significantly reduced from 4 days to 5,5 hours." We hope to be able to continue the good work together and we wanted to introduce you to Beto Borges, Director of Forest Trends’ Communities Initiative.

→ Beto, can you introduce yourself and Forest Trends briefly ? Since how long are you working there and what’s your role ?

Together with partners around the world, Forest Trends pioneers innovative finance for conservation - promoting healthy forests, sustainable agriculture, clean water, robust climate action, protected biodiversity, and strong communities. For the past 13 years, I have been the director for Forest Trends’ Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative, promoting economic, political and cultural innovations with indigenous people and local communities. I have over 30 years of experience working with indigenous and other traditional forest communities to benefit from conservation and economic incentives that recognize their forest stewardship practices. A Brazilian national, I graduated from UC Berkeley in Natural Resource Management and have an MBA in Strategic Leadership focused on social responsibility.

Beto Borges of Forest Trend's Communities Initiative (left), has worked for over 30 years in partnership with indigenous peoples of the Amazon.

→ What are the most significant challenges facing Indigenous Communities in the Amazon today ?

The Amazon is home to approximately 1 million indigenous people with rich and diverse cultures. These unique cultures, as well as the region’s biodiversity, forest resources, and carbon storage are under alarming threats from large-scale infrastructure and extractive projects that largely proceed with inadequate enforcement of measures designed to reduce environmental and social impacts. The key threats are a massive boom in oil and gas exploration, mining, rampant illegal logging and the rapid spread of ranching and farming. Despite these mounting pressures, indigenous communities of the Amazon are deeply committed to creating a sustainable future for their people on their lands. Yet few viable economic opportunities exist for them.

→ The very first pilot with Lytefire is very successful it seems. Now how do you see the next steps happening so that the Surui can actually integrate Lytefire tech in their supply chains ?

Developing sustained income streams from harvesting, processing and selling babaçu products is still in early stages for the Surui People in the Brazilian Amazon. The pilot installation of the Lytefire unit for drying the babaçu mesocarp has significantly reduced the drying from 4 days to 5,5 hours, which is fantastic. One of the Surui’s associations, SOENAMA, already have FSC certification for their babaçu and are trying to sell it to local schools for integrating in meals for the children. Selling to local schools will be a very important step in consolidating their babaçu supply chain.

Lytefire dryer installed at the Surui's village.

→ Do you think that it can be extended to other communities in South America ?

We are confident that appropriate technology such as Lytefire solar dehydrators and ovens can be a powerful and liberating tool for multiple forest communities in all the Amazon and throughout Latin America. The low cost of building these units, wide local availability of materials needed and the relative basic requirements for operating them, make them highly scalable in the region.

In addition to their viability, these units can be easily adapted to process a great variety of forest and agroforestry products, such as cacao, coffee, bananas, Brazil nuts, among others. Therefore, Lytefire’s solar technology combined with Forest Trends’ years of on the ground experience working with forest communities, can directly contribute to increase income opportunities for indigenous and local communities.

As forest communities are strengthened, so is their stewardship of the forests, biodiversity, water and carbon for the benefit of themselves and humanity as a whole.

To read more about our ongoing work with Forest Trends, read here.

Indigenous Suruí using the SOL5 & Dehydrator in the Amazon

Posted Saturday 19 January 2019 by Will Cleaver.

The first phase of our project in Brazil with Forest Trends to empower indigenous Suruí peoples with solar thermal energy shows a great success. Here are a few insights on this phase!

Local construction of the Lytefire
One of our Lytefire designs is optimized for local construction. With help from a local metal shop in Cacoal, William Cleaver was able to fabricate the equipment in 3 weeks, including everything from sourcing materials, welding and installation of the Lytefire.

One of the the reasons it’s easy to build a Lytefire and dehydrator or oven is that the materials needed are readily available almost all over the world.

We rented a space in a local metal shop, hired professional welding skills for some of the more complicated welding and painting works.

Soon enough it was time to bring the Lytefire solar concentrator and solar dehydrator application to their new indigenous Suruí users living on the edge of the Amazon jungle.

Construction of the Lytefire 5 Solar Dehydration application.
It can be built in a small space using simple, locally available tools and materials.
The new home of the Lytefire solar concentrator at the edge of the Amazon forest.
Together with the help of the Suruí, the device was quickly installed.

Forest Trends and the Suruí

This was all made possible by our partnership with Forest Trends, whom we partnered up with to get started with this project in Rondônia, Brazil.

Now the indigenous Suruí are dehydrating the Babassu Nut with the Lytefire Dehydrator, and the results are great: the Lytefire dehydrated the nuts in five and a half hours whereas before it took them 4 days to dry them on the ground under the sun.

The Babassu Nut in the tree.
The Babassu Nut shelled and de-shelled.
The Suruí de-shelling the Babassu Nut.

We look forward to continuing working with Forest Trends and the Suruí to scale up this success, build more Lytefire solar dehydrators for the Suruí peoples and others, and also diversify into solar ovens that they can use to bake goods with the sun for free; greatly augmenting their produce and making then more autonomous.

The Lytefire Dehydrator in use by the Suruí for Babassu Nut drying.

Lytefire 5 in the Amazon: solar drying nuts for Suruí Indigenous People

Posted Wednesday 19 December 2018 by Will Cleaver.

After building the Lytefire 5 solar concentrator and dehydrator in Cacoal, I was ready to take and install them for the Suruí people that live 3 hours down a bumpy off-road track on the edge of the Amazon jungle.

Introducing the Suruí

To give a bit of context. The specific Suruí family I was heading to visit live in an aldea (village) that consists of two big houses, a family in each. They are all Suruí, the father of the village lives in one house with his family and one of his older sons and his family live in the other. They explained that when a couple get together they can make a new village in the forest for themselves and build a house there or if all parties agree they can build in a village they already live in. Very cool because they can chose to build a house anywhere on their indigenous territory for free.
This has been their territory since before first contact in 1968. Now they live on 600,000 acres of protected land and forest.

Village (aldea) on Linea 10 (Near Cacoal), Rondonia, Brazil. Two Suruí houses.

Forest Trends

This pilot project has happened thanks to our partnership with Forest Trends. They presented us with this opportunity and introduced us to the indigenous Suruí people of Brazil. Forest Trends worked with us in Brazil and the USA to work toward empowering the lives of the indigenous people and help conserve the rain forest. Future blog posts will go more in depth about Forest Trends and our partnership.

Solar dehydration is needed in the Amazon

Now that I had the Lytefire 5 and dehydrator built the next step was getting them to the Suruí on the edge of the jungle and using them to dehydrate the babassu nut. As per my first post it currently takes them 4 days to dry the babassu on the ground under the sun. We are trying to raise the ambient temperature from around 30°C to between 50°C and 60°C in the dehydrator to speed up the drying process. Any more and the heat would start to cook the nut instead of dehydrate it.
To be specific, the part of the nut they dehydrate is the "mesocarpo", the flesh or pith of the nut. They use the dehydrated mesocarpo to make flour and bread. They sell both in local markets and eat some of the bread they make too.

"Mesocarpo", the flesh or pith of the babassu nut.

I got the Lytefire 5 & dehydrator installed in the aldea. There are always unforeseen obstacles in the way and this time it was that the aldea was on the side of a hill and the Lytefire 5 needs a flat area where it can be installed and rotate to follow the sun. Luckily it didn’t seem to be a problem as once the Suruí understood the situation they promptly started working a space and digging and moving earth from a high to low ground to create an area for installation. At the same time me and a couple other Suruí guys got to work preparing the Lytefire 5 for installation. A day later we where up and running!

Lytefire 5 & Dehydrator up and running in aldea on Linea 10 (Near Cacoal), Rondonia, Brazil.

Going into the Jungle

At this point the project had come together nicely. The only thing left was to get some babassu mesocarpo to dehydrate. When I asked about this they said they did not have any fresh babassu at the time. It’s the rainy season so they are not drying the babassu at the moment. They dry the babassu between April and October when there is much less rain. But they said we could go and get some fresh babassu to try out the dehydrator and this means a 12km trip into the jungle to get it; 11km by motorbike followed by a river crossing on a boat they have out there followed by a 1km walk to the babassu trees and fresh babassu nuts that have fallen to the jungle floor. I could feel the adrenaline pumping though me at the thought of going 12km deep into the jungle!
The plan was to go the next day. Witch we did but as it was rainy season there were many fallen trees along the trail and the river had risen flooding our path to where to boat was moored. So it was a much longer adventure that we expected but we got there in the end as you can see in the short clip at the end of the post.

Fresh babassu nuts in the Amazon jungle, Rondonia, Brazil.

Successful dehydration in rainy season!

The next day I had to leave. I was sad to leave them, the jungle and the solar concentrator. It was very nice getting to know the Suruí indigenous people and it was exciting and an adrenalin rush to go into the jungle! It’s also very exciting to see if what we have achieved and proved in East Africa could replicate in the Amazon context so I look forward to getting the first data collected, building more units and training more people so they can get more outcome from the solar concentrator to improve their livelihood.

It’s the rainy season out there at the moment so there was not one dry day during my stay but after I left, they got a day of sun and started to dehydrated mesocarpo as we can see in the short clip they sent. They used the Lytefire from 9:30 to 15:00, shortening the drying time from 4 days to 5 and a half hours! They’ll now reinforce the ground with gravel stones to make it flatter and less soft.


Lytefire 5 & Dehydrator with Suruí family. Linea 10 (Near Cacoal), Rondonia, Brazil.


Further Reading:
Forest Trends
Suruí people
Suruí: Perseverance under pressure
This is another interesting page on the Suruí people.
Indigenous territory
Babassu nut

Solar Forest - Evening Reception
November 27th, San Francisco

Posted Tuesday 20 November 2018 by Urs Riggenbach. (educational side of Solar Fire Concentration Oy) and Forest Trends are hosting an evening reception to celebrate our partnership to reduce deforestation and empower local communities with our innovative solar thermal solution. The event will bring together project supporters, impact investors, leaders from the environmental conservation community and friends of the Amazon.

Join us November 27th, 6PM in San Francisco

Solar Forest

An Evening Reception
Empowering Indigenous Communities in the Amazon

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
6 - 8 PM
26 Buena Vista Terrace
San Francisco, CA 94117

GoSol and Forest Trends would like to thank Z Woodman for generously opening her beautiful home to raise awareness for our critical work.

GoSol’s solar thermal solution is providing access to clean heat for farmers, entrepreneurs and SME’s in the developing world. With our SOL5 solar concentrator, entrepreneurs are baking, roasting and dehydrating food and boosting their income. Over the last two years we’ve empowered communities in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Now we are bringing our positive impact to the Amazon.

Through the Communities Initiative, Forest Trends supports the Yawanawa and the Surui people of the Brazilian Amazon to conserve their forests and improve their livelihoods. Agricultural expansion for soy, cattle ranching and illegal logging and mining are rampant in the Amazon, but indigenous communities are fighting against the loss of their forests and cultures. Forest Trends works with local communities in securing their rights, livelihoods and culture.

Globally, indigenous people are at the frontlines, protecting 60-80% of our world’s biodiversity but at the same time have very limited access to the world’s resources. By enabling them to tap into the power of the sun, create local wealth and run value-adding food processing without burning wood but direct sunlight, we aim to prove a new and scalable pathway to support forest-based livelihoods.

We will watch a short presentation, showing how high tech and low tech is working hand in hand to empower people. The project started October 2018 in the state of Rondônia, Brazil, working with the Surui indigenous people. We would love you to join us at this celebratory event. There will be drinks and light refreshments, and maybe even some of our solar baked cookies!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Starting in Brazil

Posted Saturday 17 November 2018 by Will Cleaver.

In the background of the above photo you can see Cacoal city. I’m in Cacoal building a solar concentrator and food dehydrator for the Surui people that live in the jungle a few hours by car from Cacoal, State of Rondonia.

It’s been a week and a half since I arrived in Cacoal. The project is to introduce the indigenous Amazon Suruí people to our solar technology, a solar concentrator and food dehydrator that I’m in the process of making. They plan to use them to speed up the process of dehydrating the babassu nut.

Cacoal is quite an industrial city with a population of around 80,000 people so it’s been easy to find materials to build with. We are working in partnership with Forest Trends and local Forest Trends employees Marcio, Carlos and Maria have been supporting me during this project; sourcing materials, communicating in their local network to find a metal workshop for me to use and connecting me with the leaders of the different Surui families that live in the jungle. They are in contact with about 25 Surui families that live in different villages near each other.

So far the build is going well. The weather is hovering between 30 to 35°C and the tropical clouds and rains visit once or twice a day, generally after sundown. The Surui people normally take 4 days to dehydrate the babassu nuts they gather from the jungle floor. The project is to see how much we can speed that process up. Stay tuned to find out!

View looking away from Cacoal, the jungle is in the foreground and in the distance behind the farmland.

Announcing Partnership with Forest Trends

Posted Saturday 20 October 2018 by Eva Wissenz.

Lytefire is landing in South America! We are very happy about our latest partnership with the organization Forest Trends and excited to start in Brazil where we have a lot of demand for our Lytefire.

Forest Trends is a US based NGO supported by USAID and IKEA Foundation. One of their goals is to support the creation of supply chains that allow the indigenous communities to market sustainable harvested forest produce. By supporting the sustainable production of for example roasted nuts, dried seeds and fruits, it becomes possible to leverage globalization to improve the livelihoods of the indigenous communities and strengthen their position to protect the forests.

The cooperation between GoSol (educational program of SFCO), Forest Trends and the indigenous communities starts by identifying the most value-adding uses for solar thermal energy and how to best boost the local communities’ livelihoods. For many energy intensive processes, such as dehydrating, roasting and other food processing, the Lytefire technology will allow the communities to tap into the free power of the sun, for processes for which they would have had to use firewood.

Once the first phase of the project is completed, the solution can then be scaled to support indigenous communities throughout the world’s rainforests to protect their livelihoods and enable sustainable supply chains.

The project started October 2018 in the state of Rondônia, Brazil.

The Amazon, the worlds largest rain forest home to many indigenous communities.
Indigenous communities are at the forefront of forest preservation.




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