Brazil Nuts

Brazil Nut Collectors ~ "recolectores de castañas!"

Coco collection

The Brazil nut is the principal cash crop in sustaining the livelihoods of many collectors.

Grapefruit-sized pods containing up to 25 nuts drop to the forest floor during the rainy season Nov-Feb. Nut gatherers don't enter the forest until February when almost all of the cocos have fallen, because they fall at a speed of 50 mph and can sometimes be deadly if they fall on your head. Then they go to the base of the trees and collect the cocos. Each tree produces about 500 cocos each year.

The nut gatherers often crack open the cocos and take out the brazil nuts, as the cocos are large and heavy to carry. The nut gatherers then fill bags weighing up to (a back-breaking) 70kg, which are carried on their backs through narrow forest tracks or by boat to drying and shelling factories.

Nut gathering plays a vital role in attempts to preserve the rainforest by providing a way of earning a living that doesn't involve cutting down trees for timber.

A stable market and a fair price for Brazil nuts ensure that the Amazon ecosystem is conserved despite the commercial pressures on being put on it.

In Peru, areas of forest with dense stands of Brazil nut trees are known as castañales. These areas are given as concessions to local Brazil nut harvesters, called castañeros, who manage them under contracts with the Peruvian forest service. Brazil nut concessions are privately managed conservation areas that allow harvesters and their families to make an income from intact forest. Brazil nut harvesters sell the nuts to local shelling factories, which pack and export the product overseas. This extractive activity provides more than half the yearly income for thousands of families in the Amazon and protects several million acres of forest from deforestation.

Brazil Nut Collection

Learn more about forced labour in Bolivia here.

Learn more about Fairtrade in Bolivia here.

Learn more about Fairtrade in Peru here.


Brazil Nut Harvest

 Country  %*  Tons
Bolivia 50% 10,000
Brazil 40% 8,000
Peru 10% 2,000
   These figures are estimates for the year 2000.
   * % of overall harvest.


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