Improving the baru nut production chain
The baru nut is found exclusively in Brazil and is a typical product of the Cerrado, the country’s biome that suffered the highest rate of conversion in 2019 and which has already seen 50% of its original area completely destroyed.
Providing support to a sustainable production chain for this product offers a way of ensuring the conservation of the Cerrado – by halting the conversion of native vegetation and encouraging the preservation of native trees and fruits – as well as generating incomes and sustainable development for traditional communities and peoples (both indigenous and quilombo), which in turn helps to slow down migration from rural areas to cities.
As part of its objective to promote improvements to the baru nut production chain, WWF-Brazil participated in a workshop organized by the Cooperative for Sustainable Family Farming Based on a Reciprocal Economy (COPABASE) this Thursday in Brasília, during the 9th Meeting and Fair of the Peoples of the Cerrado is an initiative by the Cerrado Network – of which WWF-Brazil is a member organisation.
Producers, buyers, retailers, cooperative associates, chefs and representatives of organisations working to conserve the Cerrado took the opportunity to unite, exchange knowledge and draw up ways forward in improving the production chain for this exclusively Brazilian nut.
Manager of WWF-Brazil’s Cerrado Pantanal Program, Julio Cesar Sampaio, believes that the workshop represents an important step in identifying solutions for the problems that still persist. “There is a high demand coming from both within the country and abroad. There are buyers and producers, but the problem is that there are deficiencies between these two points relating to technological innovation, research and training for the harvesters,” states Sampaio. “This preliminary dialogue enabled producers and purchasers to exchange experience and their desire to improve. WWF-Brazil wants to continue to support this exchange as supporting the sustainable baru nut production chain will help to conserve the Cerrado and its traditional peoples,” he concludes.
Fabrício Ribeiro, partner of LABRA – the company that currently exports the nut to countries such as the United States and Canada – participated in the workshop. “It was really useful to get an understanding of the vital role that the cooperatives, rural communities and quilombo settlements play in the Cerrado. The baru nut cannot be preserved without these communities,” commented Ribeiro. “The production chain can be improved if we all work together to establish quality standards and minimum prices, and invest in innovation and technology – mainly in cracking the nuts and improving hygiene by training producers,” he added. “We need to show consumers that by purchasing baru nuts they are generating incomes for communities and conserving the Cerrado. This product has a very significant socio-environmental element,” he concluded.
COPABASE also presented the impressive results achieved by the baru nut production industry. Ten tons of the nut were processed from the 2018 harvest, and 15 tons are expected to be sold in 2019. "The baru nut is not just an economic product that generates income for the families harvesting it. It also generates autonomy and restores self-esteem to family farmers. The cooperative’s aim is to keep these families out in the fields working in a sustainable manner, contributing to the environment while generating incomes. This workshop will highlight the principles of fair trade that should be practiced by the food industry, farmers and harvesters," stated Dionete Barbosa, technical coordinator for the cooperative.
The workshop was sponsored by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), a joint initiative between the French Development Agency, Conservation International, the European Union, Global Environmental Management, the Japanese government and the World Bank.
WWF-Brazil and the Cerrado
WWF-Brazil has been working to protect the socio-biodiversity of the Cerrado since 2010, with the support of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and the Humanize Institute. Its actions seek to encourage the adoption of best practices in agriculture (BPAs), the implementation of social technologies and agroforestry systems, and the strengthening of integrated management of protected areas. WWF-Brazil also promotes territorial mapping activities with a focus on the systematic planning of the conservation of the Cerrado, and supports the sustainable harvesting of the fruits of the Cerrado alongside farming cooperatives and community associations. It also carries out communication actions to raise awareness of the importance and preservation of the Cerrado.