Guaranà, or waranà in the indigenous language, means “the beginning of all knowledge”. The fruit has been grown in Brazilian Amazonia for hundreds of years, in an area between the Rio Tapajós and the Rio Madeira, corresponding to the ancestral forests of the Mawé Indians. It was classified in the 18th century by botanist Christian Franz Paullini as Paullinia cupana of the Sorbilis variety. In the heart of this vast area, a small region of 8000 square kilometers, around the sources of the Andirà and Marau rivers, is now home to an indigenous reserve that the native Indians consider “sateré-mawé éco ga’apypiat waranà mimotypoot sése” or the ecological and cultural sanctuary of the waranà of the Sateré-Mawé.
The Mawé do not actually cultivate waranà, it is more accurate to call it semi-domestication. The Mawé honor the “Mothers of Waranà” in the forest, wild lianas that can reach a height of 12 meters, and collect the seedlings growing from seeds that have fallen to the ground. They transplant them in forest clearings and grow them into bushes so they can be productive.
Waranà has panicles of white flowers and bunches of red fruit. Flowering occurs in the dry season. The fruit then splits to reveal part of the seed and the white flesh, which resembles a human eye. According to legend, the Mawé are descended from a murdered and resurrected child, whose eye, buried like a seed, grew into the first waranà plant.
If the fruits are intended to make traditional bread loaves, they are collected a little before they are ripe. The flesh is removed and the seeds are washed in suitable containers, before being roasted slowly in terracotta ovens. They are then separated from the outer skin, pounded in a mortar, shaped into batons of various sizes (from 150 grams to more than 2 kilos) and laid on suspended mats, where they are smoked with aromatic wood (mainly muruci). When eaten, the bread, called waranà bread, is grated with a basalt stone.
When the seed is dry and stripped of its outer skin, it contains an average of 3-4% caffeine and is rich in phosphorus, potassium, vitamins and tannin. The combination of these ingredients combats fatigue and stimulates cognitive functions and memory.
The project is run by producers linked to the Consortium of Sateré-Mawé Producers (CPSM), which is part of the General Council of the Sateré-Mawé Tribe (CGTSM), the largest body of political representation for this indigenous people. The CPSM works on the management, control and marketing of waranà em bastão (waranà bread) and ground waranà. It also represents the Sateré-Mawé producers at national and international events and promotes indigenous issues in various political contexts.
Andirá Marau indigenous area, in the basin of two rivers of the same name, Amazonas-Pará, Norte
Carlos Demeterco (Slow Food Brasil - North Facilitator):
Tel. +55 92 99492-3900
Presidium producers’ coordinators
Obadias Garcia (CGTSM)
Tel. +55 92 99514 8143
Sérgio Garcia Wara (President of CPSM)
Tel. +55 92 99417 5310
Wilson Alves de Andrade (Treasurer of CPSM)
Tel. +55 92 99373 0564
Leonson Ferreira Batista (Managing Director of CPSM)
Tel. +55 92 99147 4352