Kisêdjê Pequi oil, or Hwĩn Mbê for the Kisêdjê, a Jê-speaking people who live in the Wawi land, in the Xingu Indigenous Territory (TIX) of Mato Grosso has an amazingly fragrant, flavor. Pequi oil is of enormous cultural, economic and environmental importance for the Kisêdjê people.
A native domesticated tree, pequi has been a feature in Kisêdjê gardens for centuries. Pequi oil has many uses for the Kisêdjê: a major source of nutrition, a skin emollient and ritual paint. Now that they have a surplus supply, they are offering this product of culinary distinction and socio-cultural, economic and environmental importance.
The Kisêdjê have and continue to reclaim forests formerly degraded by ranchers by planting pequi. While living on an island of forest surrounded by large deforested areas, planted with crops such as soy which depend on heavy use of agrochemicals, pequi offers a sustainable economic . In addition to preserving their forest, they have planted more than 3,000 seedlings of pequi in an area of about 63 hectares. Of this area, 3 hectares are already producing pequi and production is expected to begin in 2021 in the remaining 60.
Pequi has a value that transcends the cuisine and is present in the myths, rituals, and festivities of the Kĩsêdjê people. This activity aims to create alternative work and income capable of keeping the next generations in the village and their preserving their traditional culture. Today, medicines, fishing supplies, tools, clothes, fuel are part of their lives. Additionally, they need funds to understand the outside world in order to defend their interests, particularly land rights. They also want young people to learn to understand the intersection of global and traditional and socioenvironmental knowledge to teach them how to live as a thriving and resilient society, and with all beings that inhabit their lands, with enjoyment and respect.
The production of pequi oil is an activity traditionally carried out by women. The Kisêdjê women organize their work through the Kisêdjê Women's Groups (GMK), which is part of the Kisêdjê Indigenous Association (AIK). The leadership of this group is responsible for the organization and execution of the work and chosen at AIK's assembly. All of their initiatives, as well as the production of the oil, are approved at AIK's general assembly, where the participants are chosen, and tasks distributed. Women in the village always participate in the production of pequi and it is up to the GMK, the decision of which women will work and how the proceeds will be distributed. Kisêdjê women play an important role in the day-to-day routine of the Kisêdjê. For this reason, the development of an alternative source of income for women which is compatible with their way of life, like pequi, is so important to the Kisêdjê.
Kĩsêdjê Pequi oil is 100% natural, grown and processed with no artificial inputs or ingredients. is produced using a traditional process- entirely cold pressed - resulting in a unique product that preserves the flavor, color, fragrance, and properties of the fruit.
Formed in 2011, the Hwĩn Mbê Project is coordinated by the Kĩsêdjê Indigenous Association (AIK), with technical support from the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), financial support from the Instituto Bacuri and the Rezek Group, and additional support from Instituto Atá. Their work has been recognized as a Presedia Program, a project of the Slow Food movement.
Photo Credits: Eduardo Malta/ISA
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- Tags: Agroforestry, Artesanal, Cerrado, Hwĩn Mbê, Indigenous, indigenous food, Indigenous horticulture, Indigenous women commerce, Instituto ATÁ, Instituto Bacuri, Instituto Socioambiental, land recovery, Pequi, small batch, Xingu Indigenous Territory