World Fair Trade Organization – Beyond Beautiful

simiatug lLakta (Basketry)

The Paramo ecosystem is in the Northern Andes region of South America including Colombia, Ecuador, Peru,
and Venezuela. It is the eco region above the forest line and below the permanent snow line, typically between 3,000-5,000 masl. In general, Paramo ecosystems are protected areas because of their importance as a biodiversity hotspot and as a main source of water.

Indigenous communities have inhabited the Paramo for thousands of years dating back to the Inca Empire,
and are still home to many. Thanks to the presence of local communities, the Paramo continues to be cared
for and preserved.

The force of reciprocity, or Ayni (in Kichwa) is a fundamental value of the Andean worldview. The ancient
populations of the Andes believed that there is a constant exchange of energy between humans, nature, and
the Cosmos. This belief continues today and is the ethos behind the Artisans basketry craft and their
community way of working.

Pachancho is a small isolated village located at 4,000 masl in the Central Andes of Ecuador. Here, an
association of 24 women produce home goods from local materials including paramo grasses and fique-jute.
The craftswomen cut the long grasses from the paramo allowing its natural fertilization. Then, they sun-dry
the grass for a period of up to two weeks depending on the weather. Following the natural curves of the
straw, they form home goods that mirror their daily needs and surroundings.