The tree known as andiroba, which can grow up to 40 meters high (131 feet), has its name derived from the Nheengatu, an Indian language from Brazil’s Tupi-Guarani family. “Nhandi” means oil and “rob” bitter. A quite appropriate same since the oil, which can be applied on the skin but also ingested. has an acrid taste.
Common throughout the Amazon, the andiroba tree, from the same family as the mahogany, is found in the wild associated with other well known plants like rubber tree, ucuúba, and pracaxi. It belongs to the meliaceae family and is known scientifically as Carapa guianensis Aubl. It grows mainly on rich soils and swamps.
Andiroba, which is called crabwood in Guyana is also known by other names like andiroba-saruba, bastard mahogany, Brazilian mahogany, caoba bastarda, caoba del Brasil, caobilla, iandirova, carapa, cedro, cedro macho, figueroa, iandirova, krapa, mahogany, nandiroba, requia, tangare, y-andiroba.
Resembling a chestut the andiroba nut contains several kernels or seeds that yield about 63% of a pale-yellow oil. When the andiroba fruit is ripe it open letting the seed to drop to the ground. Each fruit contains from 7 to 9 seeds. The ripe seeds fall to the ground from January to June. Another less abundant fruiting period occurs in October.
A single tree bears annually, on average, 200 kg (441 lbs) of nuts. You’ll need about 6 kg (13 lbs) of nuts to produce 1 kg (2.2 lbs, about a liter) of andiroba oil using the traditional and primitive extraction method.
Some have confused andiroba with West Africa’s touloucouna. While the seeds’ shape on both are very similar, the chemical composition of the oils they produce are quite different. The Touloucouna oil is always solid while the andiroba oil becomes liquid at room temperature.
The kernels gathered by the Amazon caboclo from the rivers or jungle floor are boiled in water and then left to rotten for a couple of weeks. After that they are pressed in the tipiti, an elastic plaited cylinder made of palm. This crude process allows only about half of the oil to be extracted
Bark, leaf, fruit and seed of andiroba are all used to make medicine. Oil can be extracted from the fruit and the seed and is taken for coughs. A tea made from the plant’s bark or leaf is ingested in the Amazon as a tonic and muscle relaxer as well as to fight fever, worm infections, parasites and herpes.
Applied directly to the skin the plant’s bark and leaf are known as effective treatment of sores, ulcers and all kinds of skin problems as well as removing ticks and skin parasites. It’s also effective to fight arthritis, swelling and inflammation, rashes, joint and muscle aches. It’s equally very useful for killing bacteria and treating wounds, boils, and ulcers.
Andiroba is also used as lamp oil, soap and as an insect repellent. At the beginning of the 19th century, Belém, an Amazon city in northern Brazil, capital of the state of Pará, used to light its streets with andiroba oil. The fuel had several advantages: besides being grown locally the andiroba allowed for a cleaner burn, with little smoke and the extra advantage of keeping mosquitoes and other pesky insects at a distance.
The US furniture industry has been a great fan and a big importer of the Brazilian mahogany, another name given to the andiroba tree, which is soft yet durable with the additional benefit of repelling insects. This interest has contributed to the fact that the species has virtually disappeared in areas close to major towns in the Amazon.
As for the Brazilian Indians they’ve known and used andiroba for centuries. The Munduruku Indians, for example, who live in the states of Pará, Amazonas and Mato Grosso and are also known as Black-Faces used to mummify the heads of their enemies killed in war using andiroba oil.
Other tribes like the Creole, the Wayãpi, the Palikur, who live in the French Guiana, use the oil for treating skin problems and to deal with parasites and ticks. There also those who wear a mix of andiroba oil and annatto to spread it all over the body. The concoction serves both to prevent insect bites and protect them against the frequent rain in the rainy season.
Following on the steps of jungle dwellers known as caboclos, city residents in Brazil have learned to benefit from andiroba. Among the products they have available is a soap they use for skin disease, which is a mix of andiroba oil, cocoa skin and ash.
Andiroba oil is also rubbed on the joints to relieve arthritis pain. Mixed with water and human milk the oil is used to fight ear infection. And a tea made of the andiroba tree’s bark is known to help with digestion problems.
Other uses include the treatment of wounds, bruises and skin diseases as psoriasis. Add to this moisturizer and massage oil.
Studies in Brazil have shown that andiroba candles burning for 48 hours in a closed space were able to protect 100% against bites from the Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits dengue. More studies, however, are needed to verify the efficacy of the product when applied direct on the skin.
Lab tests of crude andiroba oil made in Brazil have proved the product’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. At least three andiroba chemicals have shown to have antiparasitic and/or insecticidal actions. In 1999, a patent was filed in the US to use andiroba oil to prevent the formation of cellulite.
More recently there have been studies on andiroba’s anticancerous properties. In 2002, for example, researchers reported that the seed oil could prevent and even reverse a precancerous condition known as cervical dysplasia.
There also evidence that the andiroba’s leaf, bark, seeds, and flowers help to fight in-vitro sarcoma cancer cells.
There is a consensus among Brazilian experts that sustainable forest management is the best option for Brazil if the country wishes to sell its timber without destroying the forest that still covers about half of the country. The difficulty has been finding a way to make money in a sustainable business, which costs 30% more than conventional ways of the exploring wood.
The company Orsa Florestal, after five years in the red, seems to have found a formula to survive in this world that everyone praises but few know the difficulties of turning it into a profitable enterprise.
The business of Jari’s certified wood – the Jari project was made famous by American billionaire Daniel Ludwig, who acquired the area in 1967 to build there a model agroindustrial pole – purchased in 1980 by Orsa has been radically redesigned and if everything goes according to plan it should become profitable this year.
The company expects profits of 10 million reais (US$ 5.46 million) in 2012, rising to 14 million (US$ 7.65 million) the next year when the new model is totally implemented. They operate in the timber, pulp, paper and packaging fields. Their operations involve 545,000 hectares in the Amazon, an area a little larger than the state of Delaware.
“I almost gave up the business in 2009,” reveals Sergio Amoroso, president of the Orsa Group. He took a big risk in 2000 by acquiring the Jari project, which was on the verge of bankruptcy, US$ 415 million in the red.
The world recession of 2009 hit many international customers of Orsa. Some were from the Netherlands, their best client for certified products. The Dutch and others then tried to buy the wood as if it were conventional lumber. Orsa, however, refused to lower the price and still has difficulty selling stocks valued at 10 million reais (US$ 5.46 million).
In 2010, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, recognized the Brazilian company as one of the 25 models of excellence in forest management in Latin America and the Caribbean. One differential of the firm is that they provide social protection through the Orsa Foundation to poor communities who live in or close to their property.
Although his company seems to be on track to become profitable Amoroso believes that sustainable management in the Amazon is something that’s still not economically feasible. He criticizes the critics who only see faults when talking about companies that explore the Brazilian rainforest:
“There is this idea that you can have a sustainable business without investing money, but this is not possible,” he says.
One big problem, he argues, is the paperwork involved in doing things according to law. “Anything that you want to do legally becomes very difficult. And this only causes the proliferation of lawlessness,” he adds. “Creating difficulty so they can sell you an easy way out it the most common thing there.”
Amoroso also believes that it’s important to invest in projects that produce economic gains for the population, and not just give them education and instill environmental awareness.
“If people don’t have some kind of cost-effective solution, trees will continue to be felled illegally,” he concludes.
Not everyone agrees with that, however. João Meirelles, the director of Peabiru Institute Peabiru, an NGO that works to preserve the Amazon’s biological and social diversity, for example, defends the idea that priority number one in the are should be the creation of political communities.
According to him, only with such political education, it will be possible to form regional leaders and managers who will be able to maintain the functioning of social projects brought by the companies to the Amazon.
He argues that the new arrivals usually bring their own agendas and structures and have a hard time communicating with the community. “There are already 500 billion reais (US$ 273 billion) allotted to major projects in the Amazon,” he says. “Companies must have interlocutors who can bridge the gap.”
Meirelles reminds that in the past there were 400,000 miners in the region. Now they have been cut in half to 200,000, but there are another 400,000 workers at new construction sites. These changes contribute to the population’s political demobilization, he says.
The newcomers, he explains, are from other regions of the country and are not used to the way things are done in the Amazon. Companies tend to offer higher wages in order to get workers, but employers give little information to help them adapt to the new life.
“The arrival of the workers has to be less simplistic,” he contends. “Amazon has to be a life project, not the country’s backyard where everything is easier.”
About 500 people from several countries, including scientists, biologists, students and those interested in green are gathered in Belém, capital of the state of Pará in northern Brazil, until Saturday, March 31.
They will be discussing how to enhance green spaces in urban areas of the country and how to preserve the Brazilian fauna. The main theme of the meeting, however, is the Amazon Wildlife Conservation.
They participate in the 36th Congress of the Society of Zoos and Aquariums in Brazil, which opened Wednesday in the Hangar – Convention Center and Amazon Fair.
The meeting is offering conferences, short courses, workshops and lectures by experts in wildlife conservation. One of them is Canadian scientist Gabriela Mastromonaco, PhD in Reproductive Biotechnology and curator at the zoo in Toronto, Canada. The curator of a zoo is the person in charge of acquiring animals.
Another authority on the subject being highly anticipated by the participants of the meeting is the Brazilian biologist Sergio Rangel, nationally known for his TV shows, where he popularized the theme of protecting the Brazilian wildlife, particularly in the Amazon.
Speaking at the opening of conference, Pará’s state Secretary of Culture, Paulo Chaves Fernandes stressed the importance of holding the congress in Belém:
“When you have a meeting like this, where people are involved and engaged in the preservation of the environment, the biome and biota of the Amazon, we should say ‘Amen’, since we will have the opportunity to exchange updated information between various institutions and the government of Pará, and find out how to proceed so that we can preserve the Amazon the way, the size and the manner it should be,” said the secretary.
According to Chaves Fernandes, “we are included in a large natural zoo, which is the Amazon, which has one of the richest biodiversities on the planet. This zoological vision, in order to preserve, is essential so that people value, admire and feel how important it is to maintain the ecosystem. Humankind itself benefits from this. ”
In the city of Belém do Pará, spaces such as the Zoobotanical Park Bosque Rodrigues Alves and the Goeldi Museum are examples of the focus of the event, which will feature themes related to the world of zoos and aquariums, focused on the local scene.
“We will discuss topics such as their importance in the economy of a city as a tourist attraction, the laws involving environmental problems in the country, research and environmental education. All from the perspective of the Amazonian reality”, added biologist Igor Seligmann. the manager of Mangal das Garças (Herons Mangrove).
He also highlighted the changes zoos have undergone through time, and the importance they have for society. “In the past, zoos were places seen as a space where people would go just to see animals as something like a museum collection. Today, these spaces seek, above all, to inform people. Since people no longer have much contact with nature due to urbanization zoos have become important sites for providing that, being also a mechanism for protecting and preserving the environment,” he said.
Schedule of March 29 – Thursday
9:00 to 12 noon – Short Courses
– Sanitary handling of wild animals in zoos (Rodrigo Teixeira – Sorocaba Zoo; Anderson Augusto – Rio Zoo)
– Handling and research in situ and ex situ of neotropical primates (PhD Mauricio Talebi – Federal University of São Paulo – UNIFESP; PhD José Augusto Muniz – National Primate Center)
– Environmental enrichment and conditioning as tools for animal quality and welfare (Marco Majolo)
– Artificial breeding of wild pups (Aline Imbeloni – Park Mangal das Garças)
– Biology and management of aquatic mammals in the Amazon (PhD José Anselmo Neto – INPA)
– Identification and management of cats of the Amazon (Biol. Kátia Cassaro – Beto Carrero World, Tadeu Oliveira – UFMA)
– Management of large and ornamental fish from the Amazon Basin (Antônio Paulo Pina Araújo)
– Taxidermy: utilization of biological material in zoos (Biol. João Aparecido Galdino – Harpia Institute)
– Courses for animals caregivers (Lázari Ronaldo Ribeiro Púglia – Reino Animal; Biol. Fernando Magnani – PESC)
– Social aspects of hunting in Amazon communities (Antonio Messias Costa – Goeldi Museum)
9:00 to 12 noon – Workshops
– Biotechnology of reproduction as a conservation tool used in zoos (PhD Gabriela Mastromonaco – Toronto Zoo, Ph.D. Moisés dos Santos Miranda – UFPA; PhD Sheyla Domingues – UFPA)
– Butterflies nursery: a contact with nature (Agronomist Ivan Assunção Pimentão)
– Scenography in zoos and aquariums (Set designer Lee Oliveira – São Paulo Aquarium)
12 noon to 1 pm – Break
1:00 pm to 3:00 pm – Lectures
– Ex situ conservation and rescue of species (PhD Cátia Dejuste – WCS Brazil)
– From intern to zoo director (Lázai Púglia – Reino Animal)
– Handling of aquatic mammals from the Amazon (PhD Vera Silva – INPA)
– Ex-situ reproduction of guarás (scarlet ibis) in Mangal das Garças Park (Biol. Mika Aihara)
3 pm – Break
3:30 pm to 5:30 pm – Conference
– Ex situ research and conservation (PhD Cátia Dejuste WCS-Brazil / Lecturer, PhD Mauricio Talebi-UNIFESP/Panelist, PhD Paul Castro – CENP/Panelist)
6 pm – Presentation of panels
The full schedule until March 31 is available in http://www.congressoszb2012.com.br/congresso/programacao.php
Figures released today by the president of the Brazilian Association of Toiletries, Perfumes & Cosmetics Industries (Abihpec), João Carlos Basilio, in a press conference in São Paulo, show that the Brazilian beauty and personal hygiene product sector had a turnover of US$ 42 billion last year, with growth of 12.8% over 2010.
The figure is still an estimate, but when confirmed, should put Brazil in the second position among the world’s main consumers in the sector, overtaking Japan.
According to Basilio, the earthquake and tsunami resulted in lower consumption in the Asian country. He believes that by 2015 the Brazilian market will be the world’s greatest, exceeding that of the United States, the current leader.
The executive pointed out that the country is already the main consumer of deodorants and children’s products in the sector, and the second in hair products.
In terms of exports, the Brazilian industry shipped the equivalent to US$ 754 million in 2011, growth of 8.7% over the previous year, according to Abihpec. Basilio pointed out that over the last 10 years, foreign sales have grown on average 14.7% a year, whereas the average import growth has been 16.4%.
“Appreciation of the Brazilian real against the dollar resulted in a deficit, albeit small, of US$ 126 million,” he said. “That is not concerning, we do not feel an invasion of imported products,” he added.
This opinion is very different from that of other sectors in the industry that are complaining about competition with imported products on the domestic market.
Among the destinations for Brazilian cosmetics is the Arab world. According to the Foreign Trade director at Abihpec, Silvana Gomes, the market in the Middle East has been generating an “excellent result”. “It is an important market, which accepts the Brazilian products and recognizes their quality,” he said.
In late May, the organization is going to participate in BeutyWorld Middle East, in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, through a project for incentive to foreign sales maintained in partnership with the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex). The Brazilian stand will have eight companies, according to Gomes.
Before, however, the industry should show its products at Hair Brasil, a sector fair to take place in São Paulo from Saturday (24) to Tuesday (27). Gomes informs that, at the event, there will be business roundtables with Brazilian companies and importers from Angola and Ghana.
Alexandre Rocha, Anba
Among the participants at the Expo West, this year, which is happening this weekend in Anaheim, California, is the Organics Brazil Project, developed by the Brazilian government through the IPD (Institute for Promotion of Development) and Apex-Brasil (Brazilian Agency for Export and Investment Promotion).
Expo West, being held from March 8 to March 11 is the largest organic fair in the western United States, bringing together 1,200 exhibitors of organic products from 99 countries.
The Brazilian companies in the Expo are Bela Iaçá (selling açaí) Liotécnica (ingredients and food technology), Tribal Brasil (matte tea) and Native (sugar). They will all try to renew contracts with major retail companies on the west coast like Whole Foods while prospecting for new clients.
The Organics Brazil Project, which counts on 74 companies, has exported US$ 87 million in the past year.
Liu Ming, the project’s executive coordinator talks about the importance of the Anaheim exhibition: “Expo West is a very important fair because the retailers of the American West are the ones who sell organics the most and they set the trends for the entire American market, since the local population is more closely linked to health, quality of life and sustainability.”
Bela Iaçá is a company based in the Brazilian northern state of Pará, which specializes in fruit pulp processing, in particular, from the açaí. They also extract juice from acerola, bacuri, cacao, camu-camu, cashew, cupuaçu, graviola, guava, lemon, mango, muruci, passion fruit, pineapple, taperebá and uxi.
Founded in 1964, Liotécnica is an expert in dehydrating foods, with an emphasis in Amazon superfruits like açaí and acerola. Among the technologies it provides for food drying are lyophilization, vacuum and hot air dehydration.
Tribal Brazil’s proposal is to cultivate the soil in harmony with nature. They have yerba mate plantations in Brazil’s southern state of Paraná. Their teas are mixed with typical Brazilian flavors, such as guaraná, plus mango, mandarin, and many more.
Native, which already sells its products in the United States, through Whole Foods, is known as the world’s largest producer of organic sugar. They offer a vast line of products including alcohol, cocoa mix, coffee, cookies, fruit spread, juices, olive oil.
Talentos do Brasil (Brazil Talents) is a range of 18 Brazilian cooperatives, which together offer over 1500 products, all promoting the work of rural artisans throughout Brazil.
There will also be 52 Brazilian associations and family farmers cooperatives, all part of the Brazilian Association of Organic Family Agriculture (Abrabio), showing their goods at Expo West.
Abrabio coordinates the work of over 12,000 family farmers, agrarian reform settlers, former slaves, fishermen, gatherers and river-side dwellers. According to Iran Trentin, Abrabio’s president, his association is present in 18 Brazilian states, and the cooperative network has annual revenues of about 25 million reais (US$ 14 million).
With over 300 products, the association, which already exports to 15 countries, including the US, Canada and the European nations, will present at the fair items like brown sugar, baru nut, Brazil nut, guaraná and coffee.
“Over 80% of the farmers who are part of Abrabio are certified organic, and at Expo West we will only show this kind of product.” The associated companies are already exporting to 15 countries including the United States, Canada and European Union nations.
Besides Abrabio, headquartered in São Paulo, and the Talents Program other groups will be represented in the collective stand of the IPD: the Itápolis Solidarity Cooperative of Ranchers (Coagrosol); Ciano Food Industry Ltd., of Rio de Janeiro; the Cooperative of Ecological Citrus Growers from the Caí Valley (Ecocitrus), of Rio Grande do Sul; Bio Fruit, from Mato Grosso do Sul; the Biodynamic Agriculture Association of the South, of Santa Catarina; the Mixed Cooperative of Family Farmers, Extractivists, Fishers, and Tide-Water Settlers, and Tour Guides of the Cerrado (Coopercerrado), of Goiás state; the Weber Haus Cachaçaria, of Rio Grande do Sul and the Talents Program of Brazil, a project that brings together 18 productive groups and 2,000 artisans from 16 states.
According to global market expert, London-based Euromonitor International, skin care is still the most important category in value terms within beauty and personal care market in the world, comprising 23% of global sales in 2010. In the personal hygiene, perfumery and cosmetics universe, Brazil has become a giant rising to third place in the world just behind the United States and Japan.
Since 2010 when Brazil sold US$ 6 billion in perfumes compared to the US$ 5.3 in the US, Brazilians became number 1 in perfume consumption.
Brazilians have created in recent years a new middle class. If by middle class we understand households with an annual disposable income of over US$ 15,000 then the country counts on 32.4 million middle-class households, placing Brazil in fifth place, ahead of France and the UK.
Even when defining middle-class as households with an annual income of over US$ 25,000, the South American country would get 19.8 million households, more than Spain or Canada, for example.
Even though a little late to the party, Brazil is also playing catch up to the organic cosmetics movement around the world. With half of its territory still covered with green the country is a natural in this new health-conscious, forest-preserving, self-sustainable universe. It is estimated that the organic cosmetics segment will grow 7.4% in Brazil this year alone.
Take Beraca, for example, one of the pioneers in the market, which was created in 1991. The company has become a global leader in supplying Amazonian raw material for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry. And they seem to be making good money while growing at an enviable rate of more than 20% a year in the last five years.
The company is also famous for its sustainable practices and for their work inside local communities that gather fruits and seeds. They train small farmers to extract the right way the raw material they need.
“We work with about 1500 people who live in riverside communities around the Amazon Forest and the Atlantic Forest. Before, these people used to burn trees and cut down trees to sell them to loggers. They’ve learned now that can earn more money while at the same time protecting the forest,” informed Filipe Sabará, Beraca’s director for new business.
Small farmers learn with instructors from the company how to properly gather the material needed in a way that the active ingredient is preserved to be used in its whole strength in the cosmetics industry.
The world is fast learning that the greener a cosmetic is, the better it can provide a healthier alternative to chemical and refined products.
“Consumers began to associate skin, nail and hair problems to synthetic cosmetics. Organic products give the feeling of not harming the body,” says Sabará.
For Sabará, the main challenge for any organic company is the high investment required together with the need to maintain a level of quality required by the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry. It’s much harder to insure the same high standard of a product when dealing with natural products derived from plants that depend on weather, soil, plagues.
Another biggie in the Brazilian cosmetic industry is Natura. Created in 1969, it has become a leading company for personal products like lotions, creams, perfumes, deodorants and sunscreens. Having adopted a direct sales approach in 1974 the company was able to surpass Avon in Brazil since 2006. Natura presents itself as an eco-friendly sustainable company.
Describing itself in its site, Natura says, “Our products are the highest expression of our essence. To develop them, we mobilize social networks able to integrate scientific knowledge and wisdom of traditional communities, promoting at the same time, the sustainable use of the Brazilian botanical’s rich biodiversity. We do not use animal testing and adhere to the strictest international safety standards.”
Alessandro Mendes, Director of Natura’s Packaging and Products Development, says that 80% of the raw materials used in the cosmetics they make come from plants, which are grown in a sustainable way. The remainder uses synthetic ingredients.
Mendes recognizes that natural doesn’t translate always in better benefits for the health of the consumer adding that organic products, however, are always more concerned with the environment than the synthetic items, like the ones extracted from petroleum.
While it develops active ingredients in their labs, Natura also relies on local suppliers – mostly small and medium businesses from whom the company demands strict commitment to green and sustainable rules.
This Brazilian farm was created in 1992 with a specific goal: to show children how the ecosystem works. Nowadays, however, the Quinta da Estância Grande, in Viamão, Rio Grande do Sul, in the southernmost tip of Brazil, offers more than reproduction of the animal world.
The farm has become a place for contact with nature and a small laboratory showing what it is necessary to do to make use of natural resources without destroying them. On the 100 hectare property, on which over 2,000 animals live, nature gets back everything that it offers to visitors and residents.
Many of the animals on Quinta da Estância were born there or got there after the Federal Police seized wild animals that were to be turned to trade. Among the toucans, macaws, capybaras, parrots and alligators that live on the property, 28 kilometers away from Porto Alegre, many were generated in the first conservationist breeding grounds of the country, established in 1995.
Most of those born there are of species that are faced with extinction. Apart from seeing these animals in the breeding grounds, it is possible to observe them a little closer while on some tours, like the hike to a river spring.
All carbon emissions by Quinta da Estância have been neutralized since 2007. According to the market relations director, Rafael Sittoni Goelzer, the property issues on average 140 tons of carbon a year.
“All we issue is accounted for by a registered company. Our calculations include the trips of people who come here by airplane, the emissions of school buses, water and electric energy consumption, my travels and the emissions of our tractors,” said Sittoni.
Emissions are neutralized through the plantation of trees within the property. These plants remove CO2 from nature. Apart from neutralizing carbon emissions, Quinta da Estância recycles solid waste, treats sewage and returns it to nature as well as transforming organic waste into fertilizer.
The farm is a signatory of the Global Compact, an initiative by the United Nations (UN) that brings together 380 companies and organizations and proposes the aligning of business with ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and the fight against corruption. The project includes companies that provide incentives to the respect of diversity and to the development and promotion of eco-friendly technologies.
The farm is also among those participating in the Caring for Climate (C4C), a group of signatories of the Global Compact that meets and presents solutions to fight global warming. In Brazil, the farm is the only tourist destination that has signed the Global Compact.
Although the property has a few heads of cattle and produces food, its focus is “pedagogical tourism”. Today, it shows visitors how to preserve the environment, but when it was created by Sittoni’s mother, Sônia Goelzer, the company owner, the objective was different.
Sônia was a state school teacher and, in 1992, started taking her students to experience on her 1.5 hectare property what they learnt about plants and animals in their classes. Ever since, the demand for this kind of outing has grown and diversified. The public has also changed.
Today, 40% of visitors are students and 40% are companies that take their employees there for training and celebrations. The remaining visitors are families, groups of elders and groups of foreigners. In 1992, the farm received 1,500 people. In 2010, there were 75,000 people.
Most of the visitors were Brazilians, from Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná, Santa Catarina, São Paulo and the Federal District. Foreigners also showed interest in the site. From Uruguay, even schools take students there. Europeans and even a group of South-Korean diplomats have already been there. For this reason, the farm has monitors who speak Spanish, English and French, as well as Portuguese.
To visit Quinta da Estância you must be accompanied. Daily visits are from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm with three meals, and prices start at 69 Brazilian reais (US$ 40) per person, but in some cases, school groups can get discounts.
It is also possible to spend the night at the site. To visit the farm during the day, it is necessary to form a group of 12 people. For packages including night stays, it is necessary to have a group of at least 25. All groups are guided by an exclusive monitor.
Quinta da Estância
Tel.: (+55 51) 3444-2655
Marcos Carrieri – Anba
Biodynamics is an agricultural technique gaining space in the Brazilian market. Thanks to cultivation free from pesticides, and to the fact that it is developed in balanced environments, which integrate man, animals and plants, biodynamics promises to bring tastier and more resistant products to consumers. And even better than organic ones.
Although the technique is more widespread in some cultures than in others, those producing through biodynamic agriculture state that it is more profitable. The great consumer market, however, is still abroad.
Biodynamic agriculture was developed by Swiss philosopher and educator Rudolf Steiner, in 1924. The technique determines that farms producing biodynamic food should respect the cycle of the moon, of planets and even of the stars, so that the plants may be energized.
Ever since 1998, Tamanduá Farm has been planting and trading its biodynamic products in Brazil and even exporting to the Netherlands and Spain. Mangoes, melon, guava and red rice are some of the biodynamic products it makes in Paraíba state, 300 kilometers away from state capital João Pessoa.
Agricultural technician and farm manager Manoel Zacarias Lima Neto said that what is picked on the farm is the result of ecological balance between man, plants and animals.
“With the manure from the cattle we develop composting and plant mangoes. The mangoes that are not appropriate for human consumption are used for cattle feed. In another area, bees pollinate melon flowers. In exchange, we produce honey,” he explained.
At Tamanduá Farm, which covers an area of approximately 3,000 hectares, pesticides are not used. Cattle urine is used as an insect repellent. Whey from milk is used to prevent pests. “We use bacteria and fungi that kill certain kinds of pests. They are natural insecticides,” said Manoel.
One of the differentials of biodynamics in comparison with other agricultural techniques is the use of concoctions, natural compounds to grant the earth more life. There are seven kinds of concoctions. In one of them, concoction 500, manure is placed in a cow horn and then buried for six months. Later, the horn is dug up and one gram of this manure is mixed into 200 liters of water for one hour. Then it is spread over one hectare of the plantation.
Each one of the seven kinds of concoctions has a characteristic. The 500, for example, takes life to the soil. The 501, made using silica powder, helps make the fruit more resistant. The others use camomile, nettles, oak bark and other leaves.
Apart from the concoctions, biodynamic plants follow dates in the calendar established by the German Maria Thun. According to Francisco Luiz Araújo Câmara, a professor at the College of Agrarian Sciences at the University of the State of São Paulo (FCA/Unesp), who is also the director of the Biodynamics Institute and of the Organic Production Commission of São Paulo (Ceporg-SP), the calendar shows when is the best moment to work with each culture. The calendar is based on the alignment of stars with planets and the sun.
The calendars used in the southern hemisphere are adapted, as Maria Thun developed her calendar according to the conditions of the Northern hemisphere. According to Câmara, the use of concoctions, calendars and the balancing of the plantation theoretically result in tastier and more resistant products.
Biodynamic coffee and wine, for example, are successful among their appreciators. “Biodynamics may present greater quality and aroma, characteristics that are appreciated by consumers of wine and coffee. They are subtle aspects,” said Câmara. As is the case with organic agriculture, he explains that biodynamics does not use pesticides and that both use covered soil (which receives less sun). Organic cultivation, however, does not use the concoctions and doesn’t follow the biodynamic calendar.
The general coordinator of the Biodynamic Association, Pedro Jovchelevich, says that one of the characteristics of biodynamic agriculture is appreciating the organoleptic characteristics of the product, those that may be identified by human senses.
“Biodynamic wine is famous abroad. And there is already a biodynamic wine producer in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. Biodynamic coffee has also been growing on the domestic market,” he said.
A wine producer in France, Nicolas Joly is adept to the biodynamic technique and runs the Renaissance des Appellations association, which brings together over 170 farmers from 15 countries. Most produce wine, but the two Brazilians in the group produce chocolate and coffee.
Henrique Sloper owns Camorcim Farm, which produces biodynamic coffee in Espírito Santo. “Five years ago, Nicolas Joly’s association included 70 people. Today, there are 170. Biodynamics still represents a small share of agricultural production, around 1%. However, it is growing on average 20% to 30% a year,” he said.
Sloper farm cover’s 300 hectares, 50 of them with six variations of biodynamic Arabica coffee, producing 1,000 bags a year. Sloper exports the coffee produced to New Zealand, Finland and France, among others.
“I react to the existing demand, but I want to expand the clients, of course”. He sells another 4,000 bags in partnership with other producers of biodynamic coffee. One 60-kilo bag of coffee produced on Sloper’s farm goes for between US$ 800 and US$ 1,500. A normal bag of Arabica coffee goes for 550 Brazilian reais (US$ 310).
The reasons causing him to bet on this technique are not solely commercial. They are also related to quality of life. “This concept is present in the first world, especially in Europe. It includes a lifestyle change. It is not just commercial. People will only abandon it if they don’t have money.
“Biodynamism is respecting energies. They are fruit of better quality, more resistant. If you cut a normal apple in half, it will oxidate in 10 minutes. If it is an apple from biodynamic agriculture, it will take one and a half hours to oxidate,” he said.
According to Jovchelevich, Brazil has around 200 producers using biodynamic techniques. Most are small farmers. However, the tendency is for this method to gain more adepts in the country in coming years.
“Biodynamic agriculture is more demanding, appreciating the rites of nature, it is like alchemy in the country. The domestic market is similar to the organic market. Abroad, this kind of product is more appreciated than here, especially in Germany, Switzerland and Australia. But we have continued growth in sales, as biodynamic products are directly related to quality of life,” he said.
Marcos Carrieri – Anba