The strength of the baru nut

21 dezembro 2022

The harvest produced by Ceppec (MS) cooperative members almost doubled from 2020 to 2022, reaching about 100 tons of collected and processed fruits and benefiting more than 100 families
Written by WWF-Brazil 

Thanks to the work of organizations such as the Center for Production, Research, and Capacity Building of the Cerrado (Ceppec) - an association based in the Andalucia settlement in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul - the production chain of baru nuts is one of the most structured of the biome. Linked to Central do Cerrado, Ceppec develops with the support of WWF-Brazil projects that help families obtain income from the fruit. 

For example, Eliane Sanches and Silvano Valério settled in the Andalucia settlement 20 years ago. In the couple's backyard, there are banana trees, a vegetable garden, an orchard, cassava, beans, and coffee crops, and some cows, calves, poultry, and pigs, which guarantee the livelihood of the family composed of four people. "We also have some native trees, including dozens of baru trees. But for all these years, we never paid much attention to them," says Sanches. 

The couple knew for a long time that baru nuts are considered a superfood and delicacy as profitable as Brazil nuts, with significant commercial potential, including for export. "But we didn't even pick the baru because we didn't have clients to sell it. Nuts were all lost in the yard and the pasture. Today, we harvest, store, and deliver to Ceppec for marketing," says Sanches. 

Of the about 70 baru trees in the yard, 22 are producing. The couple collects about 15 bags of 30 kilos monthly. "We also started to break the baru nut. Each bag of 30 gross kilos yields, on average, one kilo of baru nut. Ceppec pays about 70 cents per kilo gross and 16 reais per kilo of baru nut," says Sanches. Silvano adds that work with the baru increased from 800 to 1,000 reais, adding to the family income. "In the last two months, we worked hard and complemented our income by 1,800 reais. It's significant money for us," he says. 

"Our source of income was all around calves, but it took eight months to raise and sell an animal, and we used everything to recover degraded pastures," Silvano says. According to him, the harsh conditions, meager income, and lack of support led many people to leave the settlement. "Today, that has changed. Many families had sent their children to study in the city, but they ended up remaining in the countryside thanks to the income of the baru," he says. 

According to Altair Souza, director of Ceppec, the Andalucia settlement consists of 164 families. Not all are part of the association, but the activities of Central do Cerrado also extend to other communities. "Since 2021, the partnership with WWF-Brazil has consolidated our work in settlements, lands of the Terena people, and quilombola communities in ten communities of Mato Grosso do Sul - all with a strong role of women," he says. 

Growing crops 

Souza explains that Ceppec was created in 2003, incubated by the NGO ECOA – Ecologia and Acao, and today is supported by several organizations and the Cerrado Resiliente Project (Ceres), composed of ISPN, WWF-Brazil, WWF-Paraguay, and WWF-Netherlands. "We operate in the chains of baru, pequi, jatoba, bocaiuva (macauba), and other products of socio-biodiversity. But since 2008, the baru has become our flagship," he says. 

The first partnership with WWF-Brazil in 2021 involved an investment in strengthening the baru chain. After a grant in 2022, a new contract will keep the work in 2023. The resources were essential for the agro-industry's adequacy, hiring a technical manager, acquiring equipment to improve logistics, and dealing with the crop. In 2022, the partnership also allowed Ceppec to be part of a growth acceleration program developed by Impact Hub. It resulted in the participatory construction of the organization's business plan. 

The baru crop produced by Ceppec's cooperatives rose from 55 tons in 2020 to 63 tons in 2021. The prospect is to close 2022 with 99 tons, which will result in about four tons of chestnut after processing. Souza points out that "WWF-Brazil support was fundamental because the articulation and logistics of the chain are essential. The resources were also invested in the processing. We bought a new oven that roasts about 50 kilos of baru every 40 minutes. Before that, our capacity was ten kilograms." 

In addition to increasing families' income, the valorization of the products of socio-biodiversity helps conserve the environment. "Today, when people look at a baru, pequi, or jatoba tree, they see them with other eyes. Nobody cut them down anymore, and the landscape of our municipality is becoming more and more beautiful," says Ceppec's director Souza. 
The harvest produced by Ceppec (MS) cooperative members almost doubled from 2020 to 2022, reaching about 100 tons of collected and processed fruits and benefiting more than 100 families
© Silas Ismael / WWF-Brasil
Eliane Santos and husband Silvano Valério settled in the Andalucia settlement 20 years ago. The couple harvests, stores, and delivers to Ceppec for marketing
© Silas Ismael / WWF-Brasil
"Many families had sent their children to study in the city, but they ended up remaining in the countryside thanks to the income of the baru", Silvano says
© Silas Ismael / WWF-Brasil
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