Brazil nuts: This valuable and eco-friendly cash crop is also harvested in Peru

22 February 2016 (2434 visits)

Madre de Dios is the only region in Peru where the beautiful giant Brazil nut tree grows. The forests of neighboring Bolivia and –of course- Brazil are also home to this highly-prized rainforest product.

A typical tree will reach maturity in about 15 years, though maximum production is not reached for at least 25 years, after which the tree, which can live for more than 500 years, is able to produce a crop of 300 coconut-sized fruit per year. Within this extremely hard fruit are nestled an average of 15 Brazil nuts.

During the first months of the rainy season the fruits, which take two years to develop, fall to the ground and are collected by local people who call themselves "castañeros"; individuals who hold collecting concessions up and down the major rivers around the town of Puerto Maldonado (the major processing and export center).  A 50 kilo bag of nuts will typically fetch around $60 or $70 on the Puerto Maldonado market.

Brazil nut trees have never yielded to domestication and produce very poorly in a plantation system. Research has revealed that the tree has a highly specialized pollination system which is served by only a handful of Euglossine bee species. The tree flowers for just two or three days each year and Euglossine bees are only found in undisturbed forest, as they rely on specific orchid species for their own survival. Orchids are extremely sensitive plants and do not grow in disturbed or secondary forest.

The natural regeneration of this tree is also fascinating. It relies on the humble agouti (Dasyprocta sp.) to open the hard fruit and release the nuts. The nuts germinate more readily if buried and agoutis tend to hoard their food by burying it during times of plenty. The tree relies on swamping the agouti with nuts and taking advantage of its hoarding instinct. Over time an agouti will forget where some nuts are buried, or the rodent will die, leaving the nuts to germinate successfully.

The Brazil nut, often called the “eco-nut”, is classed as a non-timber forest product (NTFP). The future of many rainforest areas will depend on such products, increasing as they do the value to local people of undisturbed forest. Readily exploitable eco-friendly NTFPs include fruits, dyes and medicines. Although sustainable exploitation is practiced, increased awareness of the economic value of forest products is still needed, as a tool for enabling the survival of virgin forests in the face of the threat posed by those who would like to see trees replaced by cattle ranches or vast tracts of arable land.



Click on image to enlarge:


Weather -

Check out the itineraries we offer:

25% off May to July

rainforest EXPERIENCE

3 days (USD 494.00)
25% off May to July

rainforest EXPLORER

4 days (USD 677.00)
25% off May to July

rainforest ENCOUNTER

4 days (USD 761.00)
25% off May to July

rainforest ADVENTURE

4 days (USD 932.00)
25% off May to July

rainforest JOURNEY

4 days (USD 1148.00)
25% off May to July

rainforest EXPEDITION

5 days (USD 1370.00)

What your rainforest visit means

In Peru ecotourism has helped make it possible to create national reserves and save the forests of the Amazon basin from destruction. By implementing our ecotourism-based conservation model (see our video), we are ensuring the forests will be around for future generations to appreciate. Pioneering projects like Tambopata Ecolodge, which was established in 1991, serve as a conservation model, by showing how responsible ecotourism can support conservation initiatives.
neuro(drive).pro() /
Enjoy an upgrade to SUITE for the cost of a SUPERIOR room. This offer is subject to availability. To take advantage of this offer, click here and fill out the form, indicating your selected dates, and requesting this promotional offer.
Enjoy 25% off any room type, available for the Rainforest Experience or Rainforest Encounter programs. To take advantage of this offer, click on the program you’re interested in, enter your dates, and select the room type available, number of people, and the other options. The discount will be applied to the rates automatically.
The comfort of our guests is our priority; we do not operate camping itineraries from November 1st to March 31st.