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Revitalising Maya nut in the Caribbean

Maya Nut is the seed of Brosimum alicastrum, a large tropical rainforest tree native to Latin America and the Caribbean (Maya Nut Institute)
Maya Nut is the seed of Brosimum alicastrum, a large tropical rainforest tree native to Latin America and the Caribbean
Maya Nut Institute

An institute dedicated to the promotion of Maya nut has expanded its activities into Jamaica and Haiti to teach rural women about the propagation, nutrition and processing of Maya nut. Extinct in Haiti for more than 200 years, the Maya nut is now being re-introduced by the Maya Nut Institute. Although less than five per cent of the first batch of seed sent from Guatemala for reforestation survived, 35 seedlings have been successfully established. Although the trees will take time to mature and provide fruit, over 80 women from 34 communities have been trained to process and prepare dry seed into a variety of local dishes, including sauces, ginger cookies, patties and drinks, to develop their business skills and create a market. With further funding, the Institute plans to provide more seed for reforestation as well as dry seed for use by the women.

As a result of discovering extensive Maya nut forests in Jamaica in April 2010, the Institute is also working with the Jamaican Forestry Department. Since raising awareness of the importance of Maya nut as a valuable source of food and fodder, the Forestry Department has incorporated Maya nut trees into its reforestation programmes. "Because our mission is to rescue lost indigenous knowledge about the Maya nut throughout its native range, our vision is to continually expand to new sites," explains Erika Vohman from the Maya Nut Institute. "Teaching rural people, governments and land managers about the food and fodder potential of the Maya nut tree helps to improve health, create jobs and income for women, and motivate conservation and interest in reforestation."

Date published: September 2010

 

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