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Brazilian Producers May Be 'Shooting Themselves in The Foot' by Boosting the Production of Acai Berry

05/04/2018 - 12h00

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REINALDO JOSÉ LOPES
FROM SÃO CARLOS

The harvesting and cultivation of acai berry has become an important economic option for Amazon residents in recent decades, yielding about R$ 500 million (US$ 141,7 million) per year to the region, but the excessive increase in production may kill their 'golden goose'.

Or, to be more accurate, the native bees which are largely responsible for the success of acai harvests.

This is the main conclusion from a research by EMBRAPA (Brazilian Agricultural Research Company), which mapped the presence of pollinators and their role in acai production in different rural properties of Pará.

The study indicates that a healthy fauna of native insects leads to crops having up to 25% more pulp, and the presence of such insects, in turn, depends on neighboring forest areas. Cutting down trees to plant only acai berries, therefore, could backfire from an economic and environmental standpoint.

Cristiano Menezes
Acai Palm
Acai Palm

"I think it's an important change of philosophy in the Brazilian context," says Cristiano Menezes, researcher at Embrapa Eastern Amazon and one of the authors of the study, recently published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

"The producer often sees a legally protected forest area in his property as a liability, something he can't take advantage of. We see that, in fact, it is the opposite: This area is an asset."

Translated by ANA BEATRIZ DEMARIA

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