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Brazils: a Bolivian story

Eat Natural's Varun Gupta reports from North Eastern Bolivia on the Brazil nut crisis

Where are we talking about?

VG: My travels took me to Riberalta, a town in the Northern Bolivian district Beni where around 70% of the population relies on Brazil nuts for their livelihood. Here people call the Brazil nut ‘castaña’ or ‘almendra’; it grows on mighty Berthlletia Excelsa tree, a true giant that only thrives in wild, natural forests. This year, however, there was almost no fruit to harvest. The causes are complex but the result for local Bolivians is a devastating drop in employment.

What did you learn?

VG: My visit came at a quiet time for Riberalta; processing plants were deserted, the machinery was frozen and our voices echoed around unlit warehouses. The people are really suffering. Working on the Brazil harvest is all many of the people I met have ever known, so collectors and peelers have no prospect of finding other work.

So what’s next?

VG: Despite everything there are good news stories. Growers are developing new models to better understand harvest fluctuations and predict problems earlier in the future. The people I spoke to have shown amazing reliance to the situation. They see healthy nuts on the trees, and that gives them confidence that things will get better. You can learn more in this short film…

How are Eat Natural helping?

We’ve teamed up with CIPCA, a Bolivian NGO that supports rural farmers and indigenous people in the Northern Amazon. Our funds are paying for tools, seedlings and training for vulnerable families keen to diversify into new edible forest crops such as wild cacao and açaí. Our support will also enable the replanting of Brazil trees to guarantee the long-term future of those who build their livelihood around this important crop.

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