The Production Chain Of Butterflies In Costa Rica

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The production chain of butterflies in Costa Rica


The butterfly chain in Costa Rica, is of great economic, social and environmental importance for the settlers of Limón, Heredia, Alajuela, San José, Guanacaste, Carthage, Puntarenas. dedicated to this activity. Therefore, this research was developed to analyze the type of chain to which this butterpy activity belongs. The investigation was based on the value chain approach. To obtain the information and the elaboration of the mapping of the butterfly chain, semi -structured interviews and meetings with key actors, related to butterflies were conducted. Producers, exporters, microenterprises and people who have the role in the national market, companies that are linked to tourist services participate in this activity. The production chain of the butterflies offers various opportunities in their various links, since the international market actively demands from the products that derive from these high quality standards, as well as the national market that sees an opportunity in international tourism,In addition to being a strategy for the use of their biological resources.


The butterflies have the gift of ubiquity, their beautiful patterns that make up the scales conceive them as unique and mystical beings, their charms make them object for different shop windows, from exhibitions of advertising and marketing campaigns, to crafts, butterflies are foundcontinuous form in the interest of the human being. The butterflies industry is dependent on native vegetation, so it makes an activity that promotes biological conservation and diversity contrary to what traditional agriculture obeys. At present we face economic and environmental crises, challenges that new generations must address. In the desire to find sustainable livelihoods, together with dissatisfied markets and with enviable natural resources, Costa Rica makes the right decision to take advantage of its resources promoting a sustainable industry. The reproduction of butterflies is developed in rural areas of producing countries, generating various benefits for those who are dedicated to this activity, from the economic, social to environmental part. In Costa Rica, the breeding of butterflies as a serious activity, for the purposes of lucros. Chacón & Montero (2007) mention that Costa Rica has 1567 daytime species of which 164 species are considered for breeding (Annex 1), however, about 60 species are currently marketed. The production of butterflies lacks exact data since there is no regulatory body that of exact figures of those who live directly from this activity, however, it is estimated that around 400 Costa Rican families obtain their main income from the sale of pupae of butterflies. The producers of butterflies pupae do not take advantage of products or by -products because they are a group that mostly has basic education, thereby limiting the opportunities that this activity could generate.

The butterflies market in Costa Rica

Since its inception in the year of 1984, Costa Rica opted for the promotion of the sale of pupae for international markets, something that has not changed considerably in recent decades, with a stable market demand, the commercialization of pupae is seen as a commodity, generating continuity in prices. Estimates indicate that on average Costa Rica has obtained around $ 1.8 million dollars annually for sale of pupae to foreign trade in the last five years, on average about 50,000 weekly pups are exported with value that is around $ 2 to 2 to the producer (Umaña, 2019). Growth in the last four years has slight variations in export issues since in 2015 five thousand kilograms were marketed in international markets and in the next two years around four tons, it is worth mentioning that in 2018 the growth was six tonsUmaña (2019) mentions according to Procomer’s figures.

The work of the butterpy activity

The experience of three decades has managed to consolidate the daily work of this activity. Know the period of duration in Pupa, the monthly export demand

The pupae that are marketed have a period that lasts from 8 to 15 days, depend on two aspects: the species and the temperature. Uevar a control of these data is very important since they are an exportable product, which should not be born during the transport period.

Materials and methods

Location and description of the study place

Costa Rica is located in the Central American Isthmus. Limit to the north with Nicaragua and south with Panama, to the east with the Caribbean Sea and to the west with the Pacific Ocean (Figure 1). Has an area of 51.100 km2 and its relief is very rugged: to the north, the central volcanic mountain range is prolongation of the rocky mountains, and to the south the Talamanca mountain range is the last foothold of the Andes (Mideplan, 2017). The country has a total population of 5,003,402 inhabitants according to figures from the National Institute of Statistics and INEC Census. The official language is Spanish, in addition (INEC) reports that 10.2% of the population dominates or speaks English.

Mountains and valleys dominate the topography of the small extension of the country that is Costa Rica. In it, two mountain systems dominate, which travel longitudinally on the central part of the country: the Northern Volcanic mountain range and the Talamanca mountain range that is located to the south. The stocks of these two mountain ranges fragment the country, emphasizing the three physiographic regions: North, Central and South. This mountainous provision, together with the predominant winds of the northeastern (Alisios), have provided the space for three different climatic regions: the humid tropical region of the Atlantic, which belongs to the northern and Atlantic region, the intermontana central region to which theCentral Intermontane Valley and Mountainous South, the Pacific Tropical Region, to which the North Pacific, South and Central (Figure 2) regions belong (Figure 2). These promote two well -defined stations, wet and dry (Solano and Villalobos, 2001).

Approaches and instruments

In the investigation a non -probabilistic sampling was used (from Cid Pérez et al. 2007), under the chain method or by networks focused on the identification of informants and key actors, with greater links, knowledge and information on the subject. At the beginning of the first interviews it was possible to meet new actors

to provide broader data;Therefore, the number of individual to be considered for the search for saturation was not determined;That is, finding repetitive or redundant information, the data collection process (Hellin and Meijer, 2006) was concluded. The methodological recommendations in the design of the chain analysis and the functions were adapted from the Methz-Valuelinks value chain promotion guide (Weiskopf and Landero, 2011)


The collection of the information was carried out in September – December 2018. It consisted of four phases that will be described below in detail.

  • Phase 1: Survey. This phase consisted of identifying people who contribute to the list of microentrepreneurs, producers and other actors on tours made to a first canton of the province of Carthage. As well as a search through Internet pages to contact the key informants of this research. After this, visits to producers from the canton were made.
  • Phase 2: Tours. Tours were made to production butterflies, exhibition butterflies, to a company dedicated to export, craft store, tours of the different ventures or companies dedicated to this activity.
  • Phase 3: Interview application. Semi -structured interviews were applied for the collection of technical and economic information (Figure 3), aimed at the main actors of the chain, they included production issues, commercialization, organization, business relations, type of problem that recounts in their activity,information, institutions, supports;The participant’s observation method was used to have information related to the social and economic of the production chain (Hernández et al. 2006).
  • Phase 4: chain and actors mapping: a dynamic was made with different actors and key informants. Information from the current butterfly chain (from producers, service providers, exporters, entrepreneurs). The validation of information obtained during the inquiry process (interviews) was carried out, which consisted of a presentation of the information collected and at the same time it was consulted whether the information was correct, otherwise if it was necessary to modify or complement it. It should be announced that the investigation was carried out at the time of lower production and sales of pupae;Technical information was provided and an explanation of the breeding protocols for specific species was provided in some cases.

Analysis of the information.

The information was analyzed qualitatively through the process of the trend or patterns of the opinions, ideas and comments expressed by the participants. To give validity and reliability, it was subject to external cases in similar conditions, always oriented to the investigation questions (Alvarez- Gayou Jurgenson, 2003). The analysis was accompanied by a process of triangulation of information obtained in interviews, meetings and observations of the researcher, including the review of secondary information of the sector to give validity of the results (Benavides and Gómez-Resrepo, 2005). For information analysis, no specialized software was used.


Butterflies in Costa Rica

The breeding of butterflies in Costa Rica was established as a commercial activity for profit in 1984, with a company called Costa Rican entomological supplies, the investor and owner was a foreigner who found a virgin and unknown market, since the marketing of theWildlife in Costa Rica as in large part of Centro and South America was unimaginable. Producers with more than three decades working with butterflies. During the first twenty years, there was no competition on the part of new exporting companies that gave competition in the butterfly market, until 2004 when new actors are presented that are incorporated into this activity

The increase of exporters was due to the void and monopoly that existed, in addition to the fact that market prices allowed to conceive an encouraging landscape to exercise this activity. The factors that promoted the butterpose industry (Figure 5) were both the economic situation in rural areas, as well as the unsatisfied demand of a virgin market.

Strategic services

In the input link, suppliers of nurseries are considered, since this activity requires the production of non -commercial plant species, in the production link it is estimated that there are between 200 – 400 producers or microentrepreneurs that provide pupaeto the next link. The National System of Conservation Areas Process 962 Permits for Export, however, Procomer, in 2018 considers companies that sell more than $ 12,000 annually (Umaña, 2019) so that for this link only six are considered sixcompanies, mentioning the most representative. In the transformation link only artisans are mentioned for their low reference that was obtained, since the operation of this link operates in some cases in the limits of legality, thereby prevents having precise data on the economic contributions that this link this linkwould have. For the national market as the International, the marketer must have licenses and permits, as well as certificates to be able to develop this activity.

Within the production of butterflies the most important product is the pupae. Which indicates that the chain is made up of independent and isolated actors;Having little information in the production link, producers do not have information on legal provisions, market opportunities, with this their activity is limited to only the production of pupae. Under those characteristics, according to Hobbs cited by Pérez et al. (2010), the evaluation corresponds to a productive chain, therefore it will be necessary to have economic and social scaling mechanism.

Characterization of links

Input link

The required inputs and materials are this activity are plant -plant plant fabrics, not considered in the commercialization of the nurseries, since they handle ornamental, exotic and introduced species, however they are the work of who performs said activity the production of plantations necessary forPerform butterflies, as well as fruits for ferments;Auxiliary inputs are those that can commonly be seen in nurseries, from manual shower, zaranda, pruning scissors, graft knives, rakes, machetes, hose, black polyethylene nurse. To maintain quality standards, genetic and breeding feet come from gardens for adults or nearby zoocrilician. Larvarios and puparios are from local carpentry.

Production link

  • Producers

The production link is estimated that it is made up of around 400 producers, these figures are estimated since there is no institution that corroborates said information. The producers incorporate the members of their family into the activity, thereby obtaining labor with few or no benefits. The participants of this link is estimated that it is made up of 70 % of women. The incorporation of women in butterpy activity is because of the benefits that this activity also requires its easy handling. Schooling in producers is 90 % basic level.

  • Technical management of production butterflies

To obtain the pupanes it is necessary. Each zoocriader. Pupa producers raise 10 to 25 species, this allows them to diversify and have the opportunity to place their production with fully established buyers. In production -related data, 20 % of it is destined for breeding foot, of the remaining 80 % is placed with exporters, which is destined to various countries, however, by competition among producers not all production isAcquired by these companies, the remaining production is accommodated with buyers that supply the national market. The top quality pupa goes to international markets, after spending a rigorous selection process that these companies have. The pupa with some defect or bad formation or with indications of parasites, parasitoids or viruses is discarded and the producer has sanctions regarding the incidence with some type of quality problem. The top quality classification has a value higher than the second pupa, which is the one that is marketed in the national market.

  • Production cost

Collection link

Butterflies producers work directly with the collector who is generally the exporter, few are intermediaries. Company with SECSA, Forest Nuevo are the largest buyers of Pupas, located in La Guácima and Guanacaste respectively, others are the small buyers that supply the national market and regularly are those that acquire the least quality. Your purchase processes are similar. However, these large buyers are those that establish market prices in Costa Rica.

Transformation link

This link is made up of a small group that gives added value to butterflies. Conforming for two aspects (Claro, 2005), one where the artisan or transformer uses the butterfly that fulfilled its cycle and then give them a different use to their wings, they will have certain defects, such as incomplete wings, scales sweeping;Others use butterflies that are sacrificed after birth since this guarantees the quality of the raw material with which work is. In both cases it is necessary to carry the drying process, to have a quality of the different specimens to work. It is worth mentioning that this link does not have records of the economic impact that it generates. The actors are not fully identifiable so it generates voids in the information

Marketing link

The sale of the pupae depends on the national and international market. In the case of exports, pupae sales decrease due to weather factors that affect countries that import butterflies according to Barquero (2002), as shown in Figure 7, the months of November to February exports decrease considerably.

The main countries that are dedicated to export are in the first place Costa Rica, followed by the Philippines, Malaysia and Ecuador (Umaña, 2019). The main country that matters more butterflies in Costa Rica remains the United States with 37 % (Figure 8) of the exports that this country does, it is followed by the United Kingdom with 19 % and Mexico is located in the seventh position with a 2,4 % as mentioned by Umaña (2019) in Procomer data.

The worms for the breeding of butterflies according to Umaña (2019) with ProComer data, are among the main 15 export products of the livestock and fishing sector.

Consumption link

This link is divided into two: National Consumer and International Consumer. For the international consumer, the profile is for those who are attracted to nature or by those who have particular interest in this type of insects or for those who have a degree of knowledge by butterflies. The acquired butterflies are to be exhibited in zoos, butterflies, private collections, as well as for research centers or museums according to Barquero (2002)

The national consumer is one who has appreciation for nature, even if not passionate about this insect. Butterflies have the final destination exhibitions in butterfly, coffee shops, SPA, educational tours, hospitals, also in products established in handicraft markets, hotels, souvenir shops.

Operational services

The actors involved in the operational services of the butterfly production chain are related to local transport (the parcels) modality they adopt for the connection and delivery of the product.

Strategic services

These services are provided by different entities as government institutions such as: the Ministry of Environment and Energy (Minae), National System of Protected Areas (SINAC), National Animal Health Service (Senasa), National Learning Institute (INA) and InstituteNational Women (INAMU).

Limitations and opportunities

As in all agricultural activities there are limitations and opportunities for the growth and development process;In the case of the butterpous industry of Costa Rica (Figure 9).

The lack of organization affects considerably and puts this industry at risk. To avoid this situation, the association that unifies the links and allows the proper functioning of the chain must be consolidated.

Action plan to improve chain

Although the butterfly chain has deficiencies regarding the processes for development towards a value chain, coupled with the lack of responses to standardize opportunities, development of the demand and viability analysis of the links, there are methodologies so thatA production chain emigrates to the value chain, where the actors of the different links share visions and objectives in common to take advantage of the demand for products with differential characteristics in the market and to lead to being a sustainable business (Kaplinsky and Morris,2000). We can add aspects such as cost control, marketing capacity, as well as the relationship between companies in search of common benefits (Kaplinsky and Morris, 2000).

  • Knowledge management

The actors who participate in the chain have different levels of knowledge. There are advances in knowledge of products, functions and chain (Mendoza, 2006).

  • Articulation of actors

The actors of the chain are little articulated and carried out by their own interests, with this it limits commercial alliances, market share and value generation is not materialized. So it is necessary to have a solid organism that manages and seeks vertical alliances between the links (Iglesias, 2002)

Study levels, the lack of interest of producers does not allow them to function in international markets and neither in the decision making of the chain, which allows exporting companies to maintain control of the industry, so that a socio -organizational management demandsand business to forge a network of commercial alliances between the links of the chain, where they can share benefits and costs, visualizing as socially effective and efficient companies (Iica, 2005). The associative systems between actors become a competitive and permanent strategy in the market, which achieves a vertical and horizontal growth of the chain (Ariño, 2007).


The production of butterflies in Costa Rica arose from the deficiencies of the demanding market, an opportunity that under the conditions of the biology wealth that the country has flourished, however, the lack of organizational strategies, as well as commercial alliances, highlightThe opportunities for improvement to consolidate and prosper, in order to capitalize on growth vertically and horizontally.

The butterfly industry in Costa Rica, classifies as a productive chain since it obeys exporting companies, without value aggregation in much of their production, in addition to individualistic behavior that does not promote homologated benefits to the actors in the chain.

The needs of butterflies zoocropy are not solved in the biological control part, many of the production problems are due to the void created by the lack of an organism that meets the needs of the problem that the producer lives with the related problemswith diseases of both butterflies in their different states, as well as the problems that affect productivity in nurseries.


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