Developing a sustainable value chain of Brazil Nuts for Swiss Consumers: an Interdisciplinary Approach (SUSTAIN)

Project leader Manuel Guariguata
Location Peru
Project status CLOSED
Project start 2016-09-01
Project end 2019-03-31

The Brazil nut is a giant tropical rainforest tree found in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. The nutritious nuts, harvested from the wild, are one of the most economically important non-timber forest products in the world. Annual exports of Brazil nuts are valued at tens of millions of US dollars, but only a small fraction is sourced ethically through certification. Brazil nut harvesting is a crucial part of rural livelihoods across the Amazon region. The same rural communities also depend on timber harvesting from the same forests to keep them above the poverty line. Forest degradation, as a consequence of unplanned intensive timber harvesting, has potentially negative consequences for Brazil nut production, biodiversity conservation, and climate change.

This project is focusing on the Madre de Dios region of Peru, which contains 26,000 square kilometers of the most biologically diverse and carbon dense Brazil nut-rich forest in South America. The ultimate aim of this project is to help COOP develop a resilient value supply chain for certified and sustainable Brazil nuts from Peru. This will provide an opportunity to alleviate poverty, conserve tropical forest and mitigate climate change through reduced forest degradation. Despite the excellent nutritional and health properties of Brazil nuts, they remain a peripheral food product in the Swiss market.

This project is using an interdisciplinary systems-based approach to: a) Provide the scientific basis for the certification of sustainably harvested Brazil nuts through a clear understanding of how habitat degradation influences Brazil nut production; b) Understand and reduce the barriers harvesters face in adopting certification (Fairtrade and Organic) of Brazil nuts due to unpredictable demand, and lack of local capacity; c) Raise consumer awareness in Switzerland of the nutritional, environmental and social benefits of certified Brazil nuts to sustain a larger and more resilient supply chain.


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