Photo: Pequiá, by Julcéia Camilo
According to the Ministry for the Environment, Brazil is home to the world’s most diverse flora, with some 55 thousand species described so far (22% of the global total). Despite this diversity, exotic species account for the vast majority of the country’s cultivars, while native species are sold only regionally, by traditional communities. The project is part of an International drive by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Bioversity International and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and is financially managed by Funbio.
The main aim of the project “Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition (BFN)” is to promote the cultivation and commercialization of highly nutritious native species that are little known and seldom included in the Brazilian diet, such as camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia), mangaba (Hancornia speciosa) and marmalade-box (Genipa americana). Fostering a market for and scientific knowledge about these species could generate income for traditional smallholders and lead to a healthier diet for Brazilians.
This international initiative also focuses on Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey. The project supports partnerships with six universities across the country’s five regions. Seventy families from quilombola communities have been trained in how to process and store local fruits and their pulps and nutritional data has been compiled on 58 new species in the Northeast alone. Among the results of these activities is a book of recipes, two volumes on native species from the South and Midwest, and a databank on the nutritional composition of Brazilian biodiversity.