Andiroba: The Seed that Generates Income and Enables People to Plan for their Future

This year the Médio Juruá Territory is expecting the best harvest this decade; families will buy equipment

June, 2022 - The Amazon forest product chains have become more structured over the years. In addition to contributing to the preservation of biodiversity, they support local income generation. As a result, residents are able to plan their financial future post harvest. 

In 2021 a flood destroyed most of the seeds in the region and ruined the harvest.  Families that collect seeds from the forest, mainly andiroba and murumuru, at the Médio Juruá Territory are expecting this year's harvest will be the best in 10 years.

According to initial projections, communities along the Juruá River, in the municipality of Carauari, sold 27,000 cans of andiroba seeds in 2022. The seeds can yield at least 33 tons of oil used for the production of cosmetic and personal hygiene goods. On average, production in the region ranges from 22 tons to 25 tons. 

Data provided by the Uacari Agroextractive Association (AMARU), one of the entities responsible for marketing the seeds and processing the oil, show that in the first trading round 14,000 cans of andiroba were purchased. After processing, they are expected to yield between 15 and 20 tons of oil.

This will provide R$108,000 to seed collectors in several communities located on the banks of the Juruá River. 

“In previous years, families used this harvest money to buy food, fishing gear, and other items. Now, as this year’s harvest is exceptionally good, several of them are looking to invest in the purchase of solar energy equipment. This is very important to them,” says Franciney de Souza, president of AMARU.

Many riverine communities living on the river banks are not connected to the electrical energy grid, and rely on generators — a costly solution that runs on fuel. 

The communities are located in rural Carauari, a territory that covers 1.2 million hectares, with two conservation units (the Médio Juruá Extractive Reserve and the Uacari Sustainable Development Reserve), as well as part of the Deni do Rio Xeruã Indigenous Land. 

According to Souza, for the second trading round, they expect to spend another R$110,000 to buy another 15,000 cans of andiroba seeds from the communities. 

The Médio Juruá Agroextractive Development and Energy Cooperative (CODAEMJ), another organization involved in marketing their products, has collected 13,000 cans of andiroba seeds, which should yield 18 tons of oil.

“This harvest is going very well. I could even collect more seeds. In addition, women are expanding their role in this activity, and earning their own money. Part of their income is used for their daily needs, but the rest is used to buy higher-value equipment,” says Francisca Figueiredo from CODAEMJ.

How it works All the andiroba oil produced in the region is purchased by Natura, one of the strategic partners of the Médio Juruá Territory Program (PTMJ). The other partners are USAID/Brazil, the Partnership Platform for Amazon (PPA), and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. 

The PTMJ is coordinated by SITAWI, and community organizations (ASPROC, ASMAMJ, AMECSARA, AMARU, CODAEMJ, and ASPODEX) implement the project. 

ICMBio, the State Secretariat for the Environment (SEMA), and OPAN support the program. The vegetable oil chain counts on the support of the Juruá Institute, the Sustainable Amazon Foundation (FAS), and other partners in the region.

Currently, seed collection and the processing of murumuru butter and oil engage more than 600 families and 2,652 agroextractive workers in the region. The collection of andiroba seeds normally takes place January-May, while murumuru harvesting begins in June and continues until mid-August.

The process After the seeds are collected, mostly by women, they are purchased by the AMARU and CODAEMJ, and sent for processing. 

Upon arriving to the processing units, installed in the Bauana Conservation Center and at the Roque community, seeds are dried from 15 to 20 days and are processed. Finally oil or butter is extracted. 

Reginaldo Oliveira dos Santos is the production coordinator at the Bauana community-based company (EBC), and a resident of the Bom Jesus community, at the Uacari Reserve. He says that the seed and oil production chain had a very positive impact on income generation. 

“Many families derive their subsistence from crops and fishing, especially pirarucu. Seed collection has increased their income. This work has been very gratifying, as it has improved people's quality of life,” he says. According to Santos, the project contributes to forest preservation because residents care for the trees.