When the jussara palm was on the brink of extinction, the indigenous Guarani people of São Paulo, Brazil, decided to plant thousands of trees on their reserve, thus saving the tree and keeping the ecosystem in balance.
Upon the creation of the Indigenous Guarani reserve in 1987, the Ribeirão Silveira families turned themselves from collectors to producers of jussara seedlings. Since 2008, more than 10,000 trees have been planted using the agricultural technique of agroforestry. Among the benefits of agroforestry is thriving wildlife – 58 bird and 21 mammal species like toucans and squirrels feed on jussara berries – food production, and carbon sequestration.
More than a hundred families from five villages take part in the jussara project. The next step for the Guarani people is to extract the pulp from jussara berries, a fruit similar to the açaí berry. “The seed returns to the land, repopulating the species and at the same time generating income. That is jussara’s most sustainable process,” says Maurício Fonseca, a sociologist who assisted the Guarani in developing the agroforestry project.
In 2019, the government of Brazil granted the Guarani people $80,000 to create a sustainable jussara pulp supply chain, from remodeling nurseries and training teams to processing facilities to freeze the pulp. All this to make sure the jussara palm trees are no longer cut down.