The Cerrado, the typical vegetation covering a large part of central Brazil, has similar characteristics to African and Australian savannas but with greater biodiversity and lushness. Included among its numerous plant species is the Baru (Dipterys alata Vox), a woody, leguminous, large tree with fruit that matures in September and October, and contains a delicate-tasting almond called the Castanha de Baru.
The castanha can be toasted, acquiring a taste similar to peanuts or cashews, or used naturally in the preparation of typical sweets made with cane sugar and milk such as Pé-de-Moleque and Paçoquinha. The oil extracted from the Baru nut is used to flavor local dishes or as a treatment for rheumatism. The nut has a high nutritional value and is rich in protein. If preserved correctly it is capable of maintaining its nutritional characteristics and taste qualities for a period of approximately three months.
The tree is also used in reforestation programs, thanks to its fast growth rate, resistance to very dry climates and high quality wood.
The Presidium was launched in the state of Goiás. Here, several communities dedicate themselves to collecting, toasting and marketing the Baru nut, a traditional component in the rural population’s diet and particularly loved by children who like to hide from the heat under the shade of the Baruzeiro.
The Baruzeiro (baru tree), along with other fruits native to the Cerrado, is also the object of study, research and experimentation on behalf of the Cerrado EMPRAPA (Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture Research Division). The Presidium intends to improve processing and conservation techniques for castanha de baru – developing the necessary infrastructure to obtain a good fi nal product – and to support the community promoting the Baru both at local and international level.