The Cacay tree is one of the most promising species of Amazon biodiversity, reason why it has been studied by scientists and institutions in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.
Even though its benefits and economic potential have been published for over 60 years, it is surprising that none of these countries has industrialized it in the past.
The Cacay is a spreading tree, that reaches between 50 and 65 feet height. It is a rustic species, adapted to acid soils poor in nutrients, such as those of the eastern plains, which are Colombia´s untapped agricultural horizon. Males and females, only female produces.
Cacay trees are long lived, individuals within 80 and 100 years old, are still in full production.
The harvest is in the summer, when other crops are not producing, generating income for farmers in the most difficult time of year.
The fruit falls to the ground at its optimal stage of maturity, which facilitates collection, and in plain lands, allows mechanical harvesting.
It is an ideal crop for peasant economy as it is feasible from small areas, it is easy to handle and is well associated with other crops such as: cocoa, banana, rice, corn and forages.
Being a rainforest tree, it is excellent for illicit crops substitution and reforestation.
It is an alternative for poverty eradication and a mechanism for pension, as one hectare generates an average household income, of more than one minimum wage per month, for over 50 years.
Unfortunately, these trees are being deforested for firewood, making it more and more difficult to find them in the wild.
"The Cacay is an Amazon tree that produces nuts,
oil and meal with a wide range of applications in the cosmetics,
pharmaceutical and food industries."
Regarding the environment, Cacay crops generate significant benefits, especially now that everything revolves around protecting the planet.
The tree captures large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere and, by constantly shedding its leaves, it improves soil.
Due to the high impact and innovative potential it represents for the country, the Cacay is destined to become Colombia's biodiversity icon.
Fruits & Uses
The fruit is the size of a lemon and all its parts are usable.
The peel is used as cattle feed or as compost.
The shell has high heating power with slow combustion, which makes it an excellent bio fuel.
Cacay nuts are an important food safety alternative for communities in the region.
For its high nutritional value, large size and full flavor, it is considered a "Super Nut".
These nuts are used in confectionary, as functional snacks and for diets.
A very healthy oil is extracted from the nuts, which is also used for skin care.
Its high content of omega 3, 6 and 9, helps in cholesterol lowering.
Due to the healing properties of the oil, natives use it as an emollient; in the treatment of skin irritations and burn injuries; and for cicatrization processes.
The remaining meal, after extracting the oil, is rich in protein, minerals, omegas and fiber, which makes it ideal as a food supplement.
It contains over 40% protein, all essential aminoacids, and is more digestible than soy meal.
Nut milk is prepared from the meal, which substitutes animal milk and is used for functional beverages.
For its multiple uses, some communities have named the tree: “The Vegetable Cow”
The investment to establish a hectare of Cacay is minimal.
By grafting the trees, crops start producing within the 3rd and the 4th year from stablishment, and return investment around the 8th year.