Jatobá

Ark of taste
Back to the archive >
Jatobá

Jatobá-açu, jatobeiro, jatobai, Katepó, Yawra Species of the Fabaceae family, they are arboreal, occur in the Cerrado biome (a kind of Savanna), and are present also in the transition areas between the Cerrado and other brazilian biomes, like Caatinga, Amazon, Pantanal and Atlantic Forest. The jatoba-do-cerrado occurs in the Cerrado’s driest areas, while jatoba-da-mata occurs in relatively wetter zones, especially riparian forests. The mature trees (over 8 years), without suffering the effects of fire, produce an average of 50 kg of raw fruit per season, with annual production in the period from July to September, which is the dry season in Cerrado. The fruits of both species are dark pods with a yellow or pale green, sweet and very tasty pulp and a very characteristic odor. Each fruit produces an average of four seeds, and the pulp is the part traditionally used as food, in the form of flour. The jatobá flour is consumed in natura or as an ingredient for the preparation of cakes, breads, crackers and porridge.For the extraction of jatobá flour, the ripe and healthy fruits are selected. The shell is broken down with a hammer, and the pulp is separated manually with the aid of a small knife. The pulp is then passed through a fine sieve, resulting in the flour, which must be dried and packaged to maintain its conservation. Jatobá is very important to many indigenous peoples of Xingu Park (Parque Indígena do Xingu – PIX), being a resource present in the forests of the central region of the brazilian state Mato Grosso. For the Ikpeng (one of the ethnic indigenous group at PIX), the jatobá tree has many uses and is considered the ‘owner’ of brushwood (a kind of secondary vegetation that regenerates by itself after cutting the original forest – at the PIX this usually happens in abandoned gardens). Jatobá is a traditional food, but unfortunately it has been rarely used by the younger generations, who are losing their tradition.In Ikpeng language, it is called Katepó or Yawra, an important food in the past, when warriors used to walk long distances through the woods, or while away from their food gardens. In the PIX the jatobá flour is produced during the dry season, from August to September. Its production does not demand great material resources and refrigeration is not required for its preservation. Jatobá fruits fall to the ground, which facilitates the collection by the family members.For the Ikpeng, the most appreciated form of consumption is the flour mixed with honey, turning it into a rather sweet paste. By adding water the flour turns into a porridge, which is also greatly appreciated. Previously, in times of shortage of manioc (cassava), the jatobá flour was used to prepare a kind of beiju (indigenous bread), mixing the jatobá flour in water to form a mass, which was then roasted in a clay dish and eaten with roasted fish. The Cerrado biome, in which the jatobá tree is native and more abundant, has undergone a rapid fragmentation process due to urban and agriculture expansion, especially the expansion of soybean, corn, pine and eucalyptus monoculture and extensive cattle raising, besides being subjected to out of control annual burning. In addition, jatobá wood produces an excellent charcoal and wood to cover houses, and therefore has been exploited in a predatory manner. These facts are greatly reducing the number of native trees in the Cerrado and contributing to the extinction of jatobá. The product has been sold in local markets, such as ice cream stores, bakeries, small shops and farmers’ markets. At the national level the products are marketed by the Central do Cerrado, a cooperative with the following members:At AGROTEC (Centro de Tecnologia Agroecológica de Pequenos Agricultores) the production is carried out collectively by 11 families of farmers (associate partners), in an area of 125 ha, where 96 ha (76%) are preserved with the original native Cerrado vegetation and the remaining area used for organic cultivation of grains, oilseeds and forage crops, intended for complementary feed for wild animals. At CEPPEC (Centro de Produção Pesquisa e Capacitação do Cerrado), 10 families of farmers, settled at the community of Boa Esperança, are directly involved in handling and processing of the jatobá flour. Besides, many families in the region (CEPPEC partners) make use of jatobá as food and for the local market. In the Xingu Park about 19 families are involved in two villages. The collection of jatoba is held by the families, and the products are sold by women organized in the Group of Collectors of Forest Seeds – Yaranga.

Image: DoDesign-s

Back to the archive >

Territory

StateBrazil
Region

Mato Grosso

Production area:Xingu Indigenous Park

Other info

Categories

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

Indigenous community:Ikpeng
Nominated by:Luis Roberto Carrazza - Pytha Ikpeng, Gabriel Romeo Guimarães