Brazil nuts come from the Bertholletia excela, a tree native to the Amazon that can reach up to 50 meters in height and live for over 500 years. The nuts grow in clusters inside large pods the size of coconuts that drop from the tree between January and March each year. Brazil nuts only grow in pristine forest areas, relying on pollinizing insects to reproduce. They cannot be successfully cultivated on plantations and are naturally organic.
Brazil nuts are harvested by castanheiros or Brazil nut collectors who walk along the forest floor with large baskets strapped to their backs. These collectors maintain customary rights to resources in these areas. The castanheiros travel by foot and boat to remote areas of the forest each year to forage for the nuts, only entering after the pods have dropped from the trees. Once harvested, they carry their loads to collection points often along the banks of the Amazon or one of its tributaries. The nuts are then transported on river barges down the Amazon to a local processing facility, where they are shelled, sorted, dried and cleaned by hand. During the harvest season, mostly female workers are employed in the processing facility, providing a much needed additional income to the communities in the area.
Working with our local partner, our sourcing program covers nearly 50,000 hectares of protected nature reserve in the Brazilian states along the northern tributaries of the Amazon river. The program benefits over 600 collectors and their families from communities in and around the reserve. As part of the program, these collectors are educated on sustainable wild harvest practices to improve their productivity and maintain future yields. By training these collectors in sustainable collection practices and certifying their groups as organic, communities in the area are now able to directly connect with our premium international market.
The Amazon Rainforest – the largest in the world and referred to as the “lungs of the Earth” – is increasingly encroached by illegal loggers, miners, and cattle ranchers in areas where monitoring and enforcement are difficult. These forests are critical to combating climate change, etc. The brazil nut provides non-timber value to the forest and a strong incentive for communities to protect collection areas from environmental exploitation. To keep the Brazil nut trees producing at their full capacity, collectors must protect the other trees and plants that grow around the Brazil nut trees as well. The protection of habitat means that the collectors play an important role in protecting large tracts of rainforest from deforestation and predatory practices. In doing so they provide an important service to Brazil and the world. By purchasing Brazil nuts, consumers can support a sustainable rural livelihood that directly promotes the protection of the world’s most important rainforest - the Amazon.
Tradin Organic Agriculture B.V.
Stationsplein 61 - 65
1012AB Amsterdam, NL