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The Ecology and Harvest of Andiroba Seeds for Oil Production in the Brazilian Amazon

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Plowden, Cambell
Journal: Conservation and Society
Volume: 2
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2834
Sector: Forestry
Region: South America
Subject(s): Amazon River region
traditional knowledge
forest products
Abstract: "Andiroba (Carapa guianensis Aubl.: Meliaceae) is a canopy tree found in moist tropical forests in Amazon, Central America and Africa. Manual and mechanical methods have been used to extract oil from its seeds for use in insect repellent and traditional medicine, and as an ingredient in mosquito repellent candles and medicinal soap. Forest communities need a better understanding of the ecological and economic aspects of aniroba seed and oil production to decide if and how collecting more of these seeds can be done sustainably and profitably. I worked with Tembe Indians in the eastern Brazilian Amazon in 1998-99 to investigate the ecology and economics of andiroba seed production. We found that andiroba tree (?10 cm DBH) density in mostly intact forest near Tekohaq village averaged 6.5 trees ha-1. While some trees started reproducing in the 10-20 cm DBH class, 46-63 per cent of trees ? 30cm DBH had flowers or fruits in the two seasons observed. Trees reached peak flowering in the mid-rainy season in March, and most fruit fell in the early dry season in June and July. In 1999 a group of forty-six reproducing trees yielded an average of .8 kg of seeds tree-1. Up to 29 per cent of these seeds had been infested by moth and fly larvae, partially consumed by mammals or germinated. Each tree produced an estimated average of 1.2 kg seeds with 33 percent being removed by mammals. This production is much less than the 50-300 kg seeds per tree averages cited in other accounts. The study's one measurement of seed transformation to oil (14.4 kg seed to a litre oil yield)."

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