Pacó is the fruit of a medium-sized tree from the Quibdó region (in Chocó Province) and is part of the region’s food heritage. The fruit is hard, green on the outside and yellow on the inside. It thrives in both wet and dry soils, together with other food crops. The trunk is medium-sized or long and the tree has many long, tightly packed branches with groups of leaves. As it grows, the leaves are reddish, whereas afterwards they turn an attractive opalescent green. The flowers are yellow and the fruit are pods containing small seeds. Sowing and harvesting may take place all year round.
Pacó is peeled before being eaten. Next the seeds and flesh, which, although rather firm, can be eaten raw, are removed. When cooked, the flesh becomes soft and can be used for stews, together with local products such as fish or vegetables. Pacó is traditionally used to make sancocho (traditional soup) of dried meat and cheese, sorbets, juice and for traditional tapas of fish with plantain or banana.
According to oral tradition, the origin of pacó is associated with various movements in Latin America, but it is not known for sure where it originated from. In the Quibdó region, it has always been planted in household gardens, in parks, along rivers and on local hillsides. There is no association to protect cultivation of this fruit. For that reason, production is very low at under a tonne per month. It can be found at Quibdó market every day, though the largest harvest is in January. It is mainly harvested for family consumption, as it is not very profitable.
Pacó is facing extinction because the population is increasingly less interested in growing it, as it is not profitable, and also because many families, particularly among the younger generations, are not familiar with the traditional methods for cooking this fruit. However, for adults and elderly people, pacó is still highly valuable, culturally and symbolically.