The project aims at making available to the producers technologies that support the cultivation of the peach palm tree (Bactris gasipaes) for heart palm production on the Paraná Coast. Experiments were conducted by the Embrapa Florestas and partners throughout the production chain with emphasis on seedling production, new practices of crop handling and cost and profitability indicators.

 

The application of the developed technologies provides early firsts cut that can be done at 18 months. The tillering ability of the peach pal tree allows more than one harvest per year. The activity shows positive returns from the fourth year of exploration. In the fifth year (base year 2016) the net return (without discounts) was R$5,926.00 per hectare/year. It is also stand out the development of a post-harvest protocol to increase the shelf-life of fresh heart of palm from 10 to 21 days. The results show that the cultivation of peach palm trees is a good agroecological alternative to diversify and improve the income of the producer on the Paraná Coast.

  

A - General Information

 

START: January 2000

CONCLUSION: In progress  

EXECUTING ENTITY: Brazilian Agricultural Research Company - Embrapa Florestas

CO-EXECUTING ENTITIES: Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Institute of Paraná - EMATER-PR – Cirino Correia Júnior and Sebastião Bellettini; Embrapa Foods Agroindustry - RJ – Antonio Gomes Soares; State University of Maringá (UEM), Maringá-PR – Dauri José Tessmann; Agronomic Institute of Paraná - IAPAR, Curitiba-PR – Francisco Paulo Chaimsohn.

PARTNERS: State University of Ponta Grossa (UEPG), Ponta Grossa-PR; Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), Curitiba-PR; Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUC-PR), Curitiba-PR; Agricultural Research and Rural Extension Company of Santa Catarina (EPAGRI), Joinville-SC; Embrapa Milho e Sorgo, Sete Lagoas-MG; Embrapa Soy Beans, Londrina-PR; 25 de Julho Rural Development Municipal Foundation, Joinville-SC; Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte-MG; Federal University of Paraná Foundation (Funpar), Curitiba-PR.

SUBMITTED BY: Álvaro Figueredo dos Santos (Project Leader), Edinelson José Maciel Neves, Joel Ferreira Penteado Junior, Antonio Nascim Kalil Filho and Cristiane Vieira Helm. 

RESOURCES: Own and third parties

VALUE RANGE: Up to US$ 5 mil 

CATEGORY: Project

MAIN THEME AREA: Agriculture

KEYWORDS: Peach palm tree for the production of heart of palm, Family farming, Embrapa Florestas, Emater-PR

TARGET AUDIENCE: Family farmers; rural entrepreneurs; rural extension agents; technicians from city government; self-employed technicians.

LOCATION: Rural area

GEOGRAPHICAL SCOPE: Micro-regional

MICRO-REGION MUNICIPALITIES: The cultivation of the peach palm tree covers the municipalities of the Paraná Coast, which are: Paranaguá, Morretes, Antonina, Guaratuba, Pontal do Paraná, Matinhos and Guaraqueçaba. 

SPECIFIC AREA OF IMPLEMENTATION: Municipalities of Antonina, Morretes and Paranaguá - PR.

 

B - Description of the practice

 

1- BACKGROUND

The rural activity of the Paraná Coast is characterized by subsistence family farming in small properties. Over the years there have been a lack of sustainable agricultural systems that can be used by farmers. The practice of uninterrupted, unprofitable subsistence farming favored the rural exodus and/or the exploitation – sometimes predatory – of the resources available in the Atlantic Forest. The Açaí palm tree (Juçara palm tree) was one of the species that was most affected by this kind of activity due to the extractivist and illegal exploitation of heart of palm, which puts them under threat of extinction 

Illegal extractivist practice together with society's call for foods produced on ecologically sustainable basis, generated the demand for a heart of palm species that could be cultivated in a sustainable way and whose product could be consumed in natura. The pupunha heart of palm stands out in relation to other species because it does not oxidize and because of its early cut and abundant tillering. The fact of not oxidizing allows its commercialization in natura. 

Embrapa Florestas, being aware of the opportunity, identified the need to strengthen the peach palm tree production chain and offer an alternative of sustainable exploitation to farmers in the region. In 2000, peach pal trees cultivation for pupunha heart of palm production on the Paraná Coast – covering the municipalities of Guaratuba, Pontal do Paraná, Paranaguá, Morretes, Antonina and Guaraqueçaba – presented the following peculiarities: family farmers and small cultivation areas (0.2 to 1 ha); low/medium technological level; difficulty in purchasing seedlings and seeds; slow expansion of planted area; and lack of raw material for agroindustry. Paraná Coast had only 65 producers and 75 planted hectares.

 

2- GENERAL OBJECTIVE

To make innovative technologies available for rural producers. These technologies must support peach palm tree production in a sustainable way, by using areas abandoned by agricultural activities within the Atlantic Forest.

Specific objectives: 

  • Developing management techniques for the production of pupunha heart of palm;
  • Setting cost, productivity and profitability indicators of the heart of palm production business;
  • Developing post-harvest technology for minimally processed pupunha heart palm, aiming at extending its shelf-life.

 

3 - SOLUTION ADOPTED 

In 2000, the first joint action was established with Pupunheira para Palmito (Peach Palm Tree for Heart of Palm) in Southern Brazil, by the constitution of a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary group led by the Embrapa Florestas and the participation of the IAPAR, State University of Maringá, UEPG, Funpar and EMATER-PR. This group, with the support of city governments and associations, created a project which was funded by the Prodetab/Embrapa (Brazil's Agriculture and Livestock Technologies Development Support Project), coordinated by the Embrapa Florestas, aiming at developing and adapting technologies for the production and processing of pupunha heart palm in the state of Paraná.

The initial stage of the project "Pupunha para Palmito na Agricultura Familiar" (Peach Palm Tree for Heart of Palm in Family Farming) was to hold meetings with producers, extension agents, agro-businessmen and agriculture secretaries in order to identify bottlenecks, opportunities, and research topics. The choice was for the peach palm tree because farmers are already familiarized with this activity due to their experience with the extractivist exploitation of the juçara heart of palm. Society's call for ecologically sustainable products demands a kind of heart of palm that can be cultivated in a sustainable manner and also consumed in natura. The peach palm tree stands out over all the species from which heart of palm can be extracted, since it does not oxidize, making it suitable to be commercialized when fresh. 

For the management of the project, a team was set up with members of the research institutes – Embrapa Florestas, Embrapa Agroindústria de Alimentos (Foods Agroindustry) and IAPAR–, technical assistance (EMATER-PR) and universities (UEM and UEPG). Experiments were carried out in producers' areas, with the participation of local extension agents in the selection of producers in the municipalities of Morretes and Paranaguá. For the development of the experiments the following steps were carried out: 

- preparation and correction of soil acidity;

- density of 5,000 plants/hectare;

- planting; fertilizing;

- weed, pests andseedling production;diseases control;

- cutting season and management of the clump;

- research and introduction of new technologies to increase fresh heart of palm's shelf-life.

The extension agents were trained to act as multipliers for the technological solutions and took part in the farmers training, technologies validation, visits to the experiments, technical meeting and publicity of the results through field days, observation units and publications such as books, primers and leaflets. The university facilitated the involvement of master's and doctorate students, as well as undergraduates. On the other hand, the partnership with agroinidustries enabled the processing of heart of palm and its byproducts. The results of the Project contribute to municipalities in other regions and other states to foster the cultivation of peach palm tree.

 

4 - RESULTS ACHIEVED

The project "Pupunha para Palmito na Agricultura Familiar" began in the year 2000 in Morretes and Paranaguá. At that time, the region had 65 producers of pupunha heart of palm in a 75 ha area. During the last 15 years, the cultivated area and the incentive to use new production technologies have been expanded throughout the Paraná Coast, reaching in 2015 the expressive mark of 640 producers, with approximately 1,800 planted hectares. In Paraná, the production of pupunha heart of palm grew an average of 26% in the period from 2001 to 2010, increasing from 119 tons in 2001 to 1,214 tons in 2010, in which it generated nominal revenue of 5.4 million reais. 

Currently pupunha heart of palm is sold pickled or fresh in Curitiba and other cities. The diversification of the producing area and the increase in the productivity facilitate the farmers' approach to restaurants. These establishments offered consumers only pickled hearts of palm and now they offer the fresh product on the most diverse and sophisticated dishes. The producer has the option of selling the fresh heart of palm to the agroindustry for R$3.00/stalk or at R$10.00/stalk directly to the consumer (price base, 2016) in fairs and markets. Market has also adapt to the increase of pupunha heart of palm production; new processing agroindustries for the fresh and pickled product were established in the region. Currently, 12 agroindustries of pickled heart of palm and six of the fresh product operate in the Paraná Coast.

In addition to becoming the consumer preference – that used to be the açaí heart of palm – the pupunha heart of palm has also been gaining market share which was previously dominated by the juçara heart of palm. The juçara heart of palm is exploited in an extractive system and can only be commercialized through the approval of a strict management plan, which has led to a drastic reduction of production. 

It is important to emphasize that the lack of information about the cultivation and the profitability of this crop were hindrances in the propagation and development of the productive chain. Therefore, the initial phase of the project was devoted to determining costs, productivity and profitability indicators of the heart of palm business. Studies confirm that the activity shows positive returns as for the fourth year of exploration.

In the fifth year (base year 2016) the net return (without discounts) was R$5,926.00 per hectare/year. It is also stands out the development of a post-harvest protocol to increase the shelf-life of fresh heart of palm from 10 to 21 days. In this procedure the heart of palm receives a filmogenic solution (edible coating). The use of this technology gives producers and agribusinesses new market perspectives in Brazil as well as abroad.

 

5 - REQUIRED RESOURCES

For the installation of a one (1) hectare (10,000 m2) planting module, you will need:

 

Human Resources: One technician (technical assistance on appropriate practices for conducting planting);

 

Material resources: Inputs - 5,000 plants/hectare (10,000 m2) (spacing 2 X 1 meter), limestone, fertilizers, according to soil analysis.  
Required equipment: equipment for soil preparation, opening of pits, ploughing equipment.

 

 

6 - PRACTICE TRANSFER

As the worked areas are located at the properties, it facilitates the access to information and increases the impact of the research actions in the communities and their immediate incorporation in the heart of palm agrobusiness productive chain. These areas were previously selected with the participation of extension agents to act as a convergence point in the transfer of results. 

At the beginning of the project, in 2000s, 65 pupunha heart of palm producers who were developing their activities in Morretes and Paranaguá were identified. In a recent survey (2015), there are already 640 producers that expanded the area of production of pupunha heart of palm to the coastal municipalities of Guaraqueçaba, Antonina, Guaratuba, and Pontal do Paraná. The project is followed up by a social and environmental impact assessment, whose purpose is to collect data on income, social inclusion and environmental conservation of the property. 

The methodology used to expand the practice in other regions consists of field days, demonstration units, courses, distribution of leaflets and other publications. Regional Meetings involving producers, researchers, students, agro-businessmen and extension agents were held for a greater coverage, such as: 1st Meeting on Cultivated Heart of Palm of Paraná: the Peach and Bangalow Palm Trees Agribusiness, September 5 - 7, 2002, in Pontal do Paraná; 2nd Meeting on Cultivated Heart of Palm of Paraná: the Peach and Bangalow Palm Trees Agribusiness, September 16 - 17, 2004, in Umuarama; Meeting of Palm Trees Producers for Heart of Palm of Paraná Coast, December 10, 2003, in Paranaguá, among others. The technologies/experiences can be replicated in other states/countries, as in the case of packaging for fresh heart of palm, as well as other technologies related to crop handling (seed treatment and control of diseases, pests and weeds, liming, fertilization, cutting, management of tiller and clump, and costs).

 

7 - LESSONS LEARNED

Among the positive points in the development of the practice stand out the following: (1) heart of palm is a product with a good price on the market and well accepted by consumers; (2) the awareness of the consumer about the illegal exploitation of native heart of palm boosted the sustainable development of the pupunha heart of palm productive chain; (3) the experience of farmers with the juçara heart of palm extractivist exploitation facilitated the introduction of the peach palm tree cultivation; (4) producers accepted well the introduction of new production methods. It is also important to highlight that the heart of palm is part of the Brazillian cuisine, especially in South and Southest regions. This fact facilitated the commercialization of the fresh heart of palm for use in the most diverse and sophisticated dishes. The installation of experiments at the farmers' properties – with the participation of extension agents (EMATER-PR) selecting them – also increased the research outcomes impact on the rural communities and their immediate incorporation to the heart of palm production chain.  

The main difficulties for the implementation of the project were: (1) legislation - the legislation in force at the time required environmental authorization for the cutting of the peach palm tree as a mechanism to prevent the cutting of the juçara palm tree. The authorization was necessary even in the experiments developed by Embrapa. In the following years, adaptations to meet legislation requirements were made and releasing farmers from the need for authorization; (2) market resistance: coastal consumers were accustomed to consume the juçara heart of palm, which is white. This rejection was overcome by the publicity of the pupunha heart of palm and its use by chefs; (3) seedings production: the seed used by the few nurserymen at the time was purchased in the Amazon Florest, which increased the seedling final cost.

 

8 - ORIGINALITY OF THE PRACTICE

The peach palm tree is native to the Amazon region traditionally used for fruit consumption. The practice is characterized as original for adapting and developing its own technologies for the production chain of heart of palm in the coastal region of Paraná.

 

 

Visits can be held during the months of November to March. The number of people recommended for visits is a maximum of 10 individuals.

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