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April 26, 2011

Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum): traditional rainforest food for healthy forests and families

Friday 6th May 2011, 2.00pm - 3.00pm


Neil Chalmers Lecture Theatre, Darwin Centre, NHM, South Kensington

Erika Vohman


Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum) is a delicious, nutritious and abundant neotropical rainforest tree from Latin America whose seed was a staple food for pre-Columbian hunter gatherers. As well as being exceptionally nutritious, providing high quality protein, calcium, iron and folate this species is drought tolerant making it resistant to changing climates and so potentially important for food security. A changing and unstable climate in the near future may result in the rural poor having to rely on this species. Maya Nut is also an excellent forage species and shows great promise for environmentally friendly cattle production. As an important food source for neotropical birds and mammals, Maya Nut is also critical for wildlife conservation. Unfortunately, throughout its range Maya Nut is threatened and local knowledge about the species is in decline.

This award-winning program rescues lost traditional knowledge about Maya Nut in Latin America and the Caribbean. We focus on women as the caretakers of the family and create leadership, educational and economic opportunities for women. Since 2001 we have trained over 15,000 women from 900 rural communities. As a result of this program more than 22 microenterprises to produce and market Maya Nut have been formed and 1,350,000 Maya Nut seedlings have been planted. In 2010 this programme was bolstered by an award from the Darwin Initiative for a collaboration with The Natural History Museum aimed at generating some of the scientific information necessary to underpin sustainable harvesting and reforestation.



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