The Indigenous Association Kĩsêdjê reclaimed degraded lands in the Xingu region and devised a pequi oil-based sustainable production system, with a record harvest in 2018

The Indigenous Association Kĩsêdjê (AIK), which represents the indigenous ethnicity carrying the same name, located in Querência, Xingu region, in the state of Mato Grosso, was one of the Equator Prize 2019 winners. The award is granted every two years by the United Nations (UN) to local and indigenous sustainable development solutions. The Conselho Indígena de Roraima was also awarded.

For this year’s edition, the UN received 847 applications from 127 countries, and chose 22 winners. The award ceremony is to be held in September, in New York, when the indians will be granted the prize worth US$ 10 thousand, a result of the work made with the production of pequi oil in the Indigenous Land Wawi.

Why has the UN awarded the Indigenous Association Kĩsêdjê?

The Indigenous Land Wawi was conceded only in 1998, when the Kĩsêdjê were allowed to return to their traditional lands. According to ISA (the Socio-environmental Institute), the Kĩsêdjê found their territory degraded and, to date, they struggle with extensive agricultural pressure – the city where the lands are located, Querência, had 6.2 thousand hectares deforested in 2018 alone, according to data from the Project for Satellite Monitoring of the Deforestation in Legal Amazon (Prodes).

“Located in one of the most deforested states in Brazil, this association changed the status quo, restoring its traditional lands and developing an innovative business model that used native pequi trees to restore landscape, encourage food safety and develop products for local and national markets,” said an UN statement about the homage to the ethnicity.

Production of pequi oil is a tool for development

In this setting, the indigenous community started the plantation of pequi trees to recover lands, produce more food for its population and generate sustainable income.

“When we said we were going to plant here, many people said that it’d take too long to show results. And I’d reply: I’m not planting for myself, but for the future,” says Yaiku Suyá, coordinator of economic alternatives at AIK, to ISA. “It’s an honor to win this prize, which encourages work and encourages the community.”

All production is made by the Kĩsêdjê, from reaping the fruits collectively between October and December, to the production of oil itself. In 2018, the association hit a record performance: the harvest yielded 315 liters of the substance.

“There’s still a lot we can do with pequi. It can yield nuts, make sweet, chili sauce, and we are starting to make soap. We’ll use the resource for improvements, and this should help our work a lot,” reiterated Suyá in an interview with local agribusiness magazine Globo Rural.

Pequi oil is traded with restaurants, high class stores and markets. You can also purchase it at the Socio-environmental online store.

Content published in July 3, 2019

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